Lent 9 (2012)–Unexpected Answer to Prayer

Luke 11:1 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’…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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. …13 If 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!”

I think Jesus was a really interesting guy.  He didn’t do the expected.

His disciples have just watched and possibly even listened to Him pray.  Yet, when He was done, they asked Him to teach them to pray just as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples.  It wasn’t, “Lord, teach us how to pray like we just saw you do.”  Why “just as John [the Baptist]”?  Were the disciples trying to keep up with the Joneses or the Baptists?  Was their desire for earthly hills, methods of prayer, or even a liturgical prayer that was “The Jesus Brand” since John’s followers had “The Baptist Brand”?  They were in the presence of Jesus–Emmanuel, God with us!  Why were they looking at earthly hills instead of gazing beyond them to the presence of God Himself?

Jesus didn’t take the bait.

He took the whole rod of comparison–hook, line, and sinker–and then the entire earthly tackle box of prayer.  In its place, He gave them (and us) the most heavenly perspective on seeking the presence of our holy and powerful God. 

He genuinely taught them how to pray.

Just like Martha learned in yesterday’s lesson:  Seek God’s presence; listen to Jesus; and whatever you truly need to serve Him will be given to you.   Daily bread—given!  Forgiveness and mercy—given!  The ability to forgive others—given!  Protection from opposition—given!

Jesus gives a few practical examples reinforcing the priority of seeking God’s presence and then He drops the most amazing statement on them in verse 13:

“If 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!”

The Holy Spirit’s previous activity in Luke’s gospel involved preparing the way and pointing to Jesus as the Son of God, Savior, and Messiah.  The Holy Spirit was now being offered to disciples of Jesus who ask God, in prayer, for God’s ongoing presence with them…even as Jesus heads “Up to Jerusalem” to His death.   Just amazing!

Jesus says, many good gifts come to people who don’t deserve them—it’s how God shows grace toward our physical needs.  But the heavenly perspective is that God knows what we need most is His presence, not things.  Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

To those who were already on a journey “Up to Jerusalem” with Jesus Christ, praying like Jesus involves a priority act of worship: coming into the very presence of God, inviting His Kingdom to come, and boldly asking that He will meet our deepest needs through His ongoing presence and through this, satisfying our lesser needs—both by His grace.


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 2, 2012

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