Luke 11:1–13 . . . Bible Study Summary with Photos
When You Pray: Ask, Seek, and Knock
As we begin today's study of the Lord's Prayer, let's follow Jesus' prayer instructions, for this prayer is not the Lord's Prayer but the disciple's prayer. Bear in mind that it's introduced in Luke's and Matthew's gospels (Matthew's account being smaller; they're not identical). Luke breaks into three segments Jesus' prayer teaching account.
1. One Disciple's Request (v. 1)
Jesus was, once again, at prayer. (Note: Luke highlights prayer emphatically in his writing; some call it "Luke's Gospel of Prayer.") "Praying in a certain place" (v. 1), his disciples once again observed Jesus in another "season of prayer." Apparently they'd finally realized that, just as prayer played a vital role in John the Baptist's life, and in the life of the Lord, prayer should be vital to their own lives as well. One of the disciples, unnamed, asked Jesus to teach fellow disciples to pray, just as John had done to his disciples.
It's no accident that, at the very time our Lord had set aside time for his own prayer, one disciple asked Jesus to teach them all to pray. Our Lord's prayer life prompted the disciple to do so. Jesus wanted them to realize on their own how important prayer was. That one disciple's petition was an open admission that prayer was very much needed in the disciples' lives. Learning requires an admission of one's ignorance and a genuine desire to become informed.
2. Patterned prayer (vv. 2–4)
Jesus directs his disciples on how to pray by giving them a "patterned prayer." It's a short, skeletal one that doesn't include all of a prayer's elements. Though it lacks detail, it outlines the essentials. His patterned prayer highlights the following three areas of need.
1. -- The kingdom of God needs to come. We know from the Book of Acts that the kingdom of God approaches but it hasn't yet been realized. Possibly, the hallowing (v. 2) of God's name is synonymous with his kingdom's coming, which will take place at his second coming, when all creation is restored and rid of sin, and when God's holiness and splendor is totally revealed. This first area of prayer has to do with the Father's authority being fully established on earth and for his glory and splendor to be revealed at this time.
2. -- The disciples have physical needs. The Father provides for his children. Thus, the disciples are taught to petition him daily for their needs. The "daily bread" reference stands not only literally, but also for many of one's physical needs. Being our Sustainer of life, we may petition the Father to meet our physical needs.
3. -- Those who sin have spiritual needs. While we can be thankful that salvation delivers believers from the penalty of sin, we must rely on Christ's return to rid us of the presence of sin. Because life fails to provide sinless perfection, Jesus taught his disciples and us to pray for the forgiveness of sins. While creation eagerly awaits the coming of the God's kingdom, as our bodies yearn for God's provisions for physical needs, so the spirit of man desperately needs the forgiveness of committed sins, along with God's help with our efforts at avoiding subsequent sin. There's an on-going need for our sins to be removed by his forgiveness; Jesus emphasizes this when he teaches us how to pray. Verse 4b acknowledges that we not only need God's forgiveness, but we need God's help forgiving others. Verse 4b's "lead us not into temptation" asks God to enable us to deal with sin at its very roots, rather than waiting for it to bear fruit.
This disciples' prayer should acknowledge the reality of our sin and consequent need for forgiveness, while encouraging us to avoid sin altogether.
3. The disciple's motivation to pray (vv. 5–13)
Having provided us with the curriculum or pattern for prayer, the Lord moves next to our prayers' motivation. To do this he tells two parables: The first parable deals with a friend's request (vv. 5–10); the second with a request made to one's father (vv. 11–13).
Parable 1: Boldness and Persistence with a Friend (vv. 5–10) Jesus' first parable is a bit outlandish in its circumstances when you try to visualize it. A man has an unexpected guest arrive at his home. Even though it's midnight, the unexpected friend arrives at his buddy's house to ask if he can borrow bread. The homeowner, already in bed, perhaps in the same bed with his children, would have quickly given his friend bread if it weren't so late and wouldn't disturb the household. But even though the man in bed protests, the man in need boldly ("shamelessly" in many versions) persisted, prompting his homeowner friend to get up, open the door, and give him the three bread loaves he requested.
If the guest's request was granted as a result of his persistence, even though it was inconvenient, then persistence in seeking what one truly needs must pay off. The next two verses emphasize the lesson's application: "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." By persistently knocking, a door was opened; by boldly asking, a request was fulfilled. A person sought and found what he was seeking. So, too, it is with disciples in their and our prayers: Consistent, persistent, daily prayer, motivated by the assurance that God will provide, even when it's inconvenient, will likely be answered. So, pray boldly and meaningfully with expectation!
Parable 2: Good Gifts from a Father (vv. 11–13) If we can expect friends to give us what we ask for when we boldly persist, what can we expect of a father, better yet our Heavenly Father?
Jesus instructed his disciples to pray to God as their Father. In his second parable, Jesus begins by assuring us that earthly fathers love their children, delighting in giving good gifts to them; they don't give their children "bad" things when they've asked for "good" things. Fish and eggs are "good" because they strengthen the physical body. Snakes and scorpions are "bad" because they're harmful to our body. God, our Heavenly Father, would never give us "bad" or harmful things when we've asked for "good" and beneficial things.
Because God is a good and loving Father, we can expect him to beneficially answer our petitions. From our Lord's first parable, we learn that God answers our prayers. From the second, we can rest assured that his answered prayers are good ones in his eyes. The highest good that God gives to those of us who petition him in prayer is summed up in one amazing gift; the Holy Spirit. What better gift could our Lord give to his disciples?
The Lord's Prayer becomes a vain repetition when we don't understand it, or if we recite it without giving it the meaning it deserves. It isn't the complete word on prayer, but it's patterned to demonstrate the essence of our daily prayer life. Our Lord, in giving the disciples this prayer and both parables, is telling us that it should be on our lips constantly and consistently. There are no excuses for not praying.
If our Lord's model prayer is indeed a true disciple's prayer, then let's conclude by praying as our Lord has instructed (vv. 2b–4). Amen.
It Makes You Wonder . . . .
- Q. 1 Does the first parable teach that God won't help us unless we insist? What's the essential lesson of this parable?
- Q. 2 How can fear of God's response keep us from praying boldly and persistently? How does Jesus answer this concern? (vv. 11–13)
This Week's Passage
Jesus' Teaching on Prayer
11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
2 He said to them, "When you pray, say:
"'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.'"
5Then Jesus said to them, "Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.' 7And suppose the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"