By Terry Kirby
Senior Pastor of Alpha Baptist Church, Morristown
With names like: bag, brick, flip, slide, and smart, cellular phones have come a long way in a few short years. Today’s smart phones are handheld computers that can do just about anything. Besides talking, smart phones are our calendars, cameras, flashlights, photo albums, to-do lists, maps, internet access and constant companions.
Imagine a day when you can just talk to someone in a distant place without a handheld device. Imagine asking that person for anything and getting as much of it as you need. That day is not in the distant future, it is today, it is tomorrow and it was yesterday and all the days before. You may have already guessed how that is possible. It is prayer. Prayer is the means for believers in Jesus Christ to talk to God. Sadly, many believers seem to be better able to use their smart phones than to pray. Jesus’ disciples apparently had concerns about how to pray.
At the point in Jesus’ ministry, as recorded in Luke’s gospel, chapter 11, Jesus had spent the majority of His ministry with His disciples. Jesus was making progress toward Jerusalem to face death on the cross. Over the years Jesus had been observed by His disciples praying. Now, as Jesus’ days were numbered on earth, His followers wanted to know how to pray. In Luke 11:2-4, Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer is recorded. The focal passage of our study is found in the verses that immediately follow Jesus’ model prayer.
Jesus continued to teach His followers about prayer by telling them about two different situations with which the disciples could relate. The first is found in verses five through ten and is about a friend going to a friend in need. As Jesus teaches about prayer, this story describes the one who prays.
The story involves a friend coming to a friend because a friend came to a friend. The friend was unwelcome because of the hour of his arrival. To provide for his needs would have involved disturbing everyone in the household. Only after persistence in asking did the friend provide all that the friend needed for his friend. Jesus concluded his story by telling His followers to be persistent by continually asking, searching, and knocking.
The second story Jesus told to teach about prayer focused on the One who answers our prayer found in verses eleven through thirteen. Jesus, in His model prayer, instructed His followers to pray to God the Father. In this story, Jesus asks a series of questions about how fathers provide for their children. Jesus compares our Heavenly Father to earthly fathers but of course there is no comparison.
Jesus states that any father when asked for a fish would not give his child a snake. Or, when a father is asked for an egg he would not give his child a scorpion. Jesus believed that a response from a father like that would be ridiculous. Jesus says that even evil men know how to give good gifts to their children. How much more, Jesus boldly states, is the Heavenly Father willing to give of the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Let’s pause and focus on that last statement for a moment. Luke describes the gift of the Holy Spirit being given in quantity. This is more than the aspect of the filling of the Holy Spirit at the point of conversion. The meaning of “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” in verse 13 includes the Holy Spirit being our advocate while serving the Lord after our conversion.
— Kirby is senior pastor of Alpha Baptist Church, Morristown.