AS WE PERSIST IN PRAYING AS JESUS TAUGHT US WE SHOULD HAVE THE EXPECTATION OF RECEIVING ANSWERS FROM OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
The disciples had the privilege of witnessing the prayer life of Jesus as He communed with the Father. They also saw how John the Baptist instructed his followers in this important spiritual discipline. Having been confronted with their own ministry power deficiencies, they were motivated to seek remedial help from Jesus to grow in this critical area. Jesus took the opportunity to train them up regarding both what to pray for and how to approach the Father in prayer with an expectation of receiving answers.
J. Ligon Duncan: Sometimes we think that a spontaneous, unplanned prayer is more spiritual than a planned prayer, but Jesus gave His disciples a pattern for prayer — not just words to repeat in rote, not just a mantra to say over and over again, but a structure, a pattern for prayer that starts somewhere and is going somewhere. And He’s taught us that that will in fact help us to pray more Biblically, more effectively, and so He takes us to the Bible and He gives us a pattern for prayer.
(:1) PROLOGUE – TEACH US TO PRAY
“And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.’”
3 AREAS OF INSTRUCTION REGARDING PRAYER
I. (:2-4) PATTERN OF PRAYER DEFINED BY TOPIC
A. (:2) Topics Relating to God
1.(:2a) Seek the Glory of God
“And He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be Thy name.’”
Intimate communication such as takes place between a child and a father within the context of a loving family
Steven Cole: In order to pray rightly, we must be able sincerely to address God as our Father. There is a general sense in which God is the Father of all people, since they are His offspring as Creator (Acts 17:26-28). But since the human race fell into sin, we enter life alienated from God. In fact, Jesus told the Jews that they were of their father, the devil (John 8:44). It is only when a person is born spiritually by God’s will and power that he becomes a child of God in the true sense (John 1:12-13) and thus can address the Almighty Creator personally as Father.
– “Father” implies the intimacy and love of a personal relationship.
– “Father” implies the respect and authority of a submissive relationship.
This focus on God’s glory was the constant focus of the Lord Jesus Christ. In His high priestly prayer, Jesus declared, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, … I have glorified You on the earth, … I manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me” (John 17:1, 4, 6)
Anyabwile: To honor God’s name is to respect God’s person.
J. Ligon Duncan: Point one, pray the Bible. It’s very clear that Jesus wants His disciples to pray the Scriptures back to God. Two, pray to your Father in heaven. Jesus says in this prayer that His disciples are to address their God as “Father.” That’s extremely important. It’s not just a passing thing; it’s not just an honorific title. It’s really, really important for your practice of prayer. And third, pray that God’ name will be glorified.
2. (:2b) Seek the Kingdom Purposes of God
“Thy kingdom come.”
Morris: looks for the bringing in of the kingdom that was the constant subject of Jesus’ teaching. There is a sense in which it is realized here and now, in the hearts and lives of men who subject themselves to God and accept His way for them. But in another sense it will not come until God’s will is perfectly done throughout the world.
Geldenhuys: “Let thy divine rule come.” The prayer is that the Father’s divine sovereignty should more and more fully attain its rightful place in the heart and life of fallen mankind, who otherwise are bound under the sway of the powers of darkness; that instead of living in sin and rebellion against God men should be brought to live their whole life more and more under the control of God’s sovereign rule. So this supplication refers to the extension of the divine dominion in the life of mankind in this age. But in the highest instance, it is a supplication that the kingly dominion of God which came with power into the life of mankind in the first coming of Jesus shall come in full glory and perfection through Christ’s second coming.
J. Ligon Duncan: He’s encouraging you to pray that God’s kingdom would come in the destruction of Satan’s kingdom, that God’s kingdom would come in the building up of His own kingdom, that God’s kingdom would come in the conversion of men and women and boys and girls, and that God’s kingdom would come finally in its completion when Jesus comes again.
MacArthur: It comes through salvation. That’s how you come into the kingdom. It grows through sanctification. That’s how the kingdom takes over more and more of your life. And finally, it consummates in the Second Coming, the Second Coming. When you say, “Your kingdom come,” you’re praying for Jesus to come back. You’re praying for the Lord to come. “Thy kingdom come, oh God, Thy rule, oh Christ, begin. Break with Thine iron rod the tyrannies of sin.” We understand that. “How long, oh Lord, are You going to let this go on? Lord Jesus, come back. Stop the sinning in this world. Stop the mockery and the reproach on Your name. Stop the blasphemy. Take over.” We look for the day when “Jesus shall reign where e’er the sun does its successive journeys run. His kingdom spread from shore to shore, till moon shall wax and wane no more.” We long for the day when Jesus reigns and rules the world. If you ask me what is your greatest single desire? I would have to say, and so would you as a believer, the greatest desire that I have is that Jesus would come and set up His promised kingdom. John said it at the end of Revelation, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Come. The day will arrive when He will come, He will gather His church. He will bring horrific judgment on the world. And then He will establish the glory of His 1,000-year millennial kingdom. His feet will come down, hit the Mount of Olives, change the geography of the land of Israel. He will reign for 1,000 years there with the saints who come back with Him, reigning with Him. His knowledge and wisdom will fill the whole earth, He will rule with a rod of iron. And we will have the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our God and of our Christ. There will be 1,000 years in which Satan will be chained and Christ will totally rule the world. At the end of that time, the universe as we know it disintegrates, God creates a new heaven and a new earth which is the eternal kingdom in which we will dwell forever.
B. (:3-4) Topics Relating to Us
1. (:3) Seek Daily Provisions
“Give us each day our daily bread.”
Durative aspect – need provision each day; need for constant dependence on the Father
2. (:4a) Seek Forgiveness
“And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”
Steven Cole: God’s forgiveness is granted only on the basis of His grace, not our works. The idea here is that if we, who are sinful, can forgive others, then surely God, who is perfect, will forgive us if we come to Him. But there is also the notion that the true mark of one who has been forgiven by God is that he will forgive others. I cannot honestly pray, “Father, forgive my sins,” if I refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against me.
3. (:4b) Seek Protection From Temptation
“And lead us not into temptation.”
Steven Cole: The idea is that, far from leading us into temptation (which He cannot do), God would lead us into His ways of righteousness where we will be kept from sin.
Morris: while it can be prayed privately, it is essentially a corporate prayer. All the pronouns are plural.
Donald Miller: Encouragement to prayer is given in two brief parables.
II. (:5-8) PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER IN INTERCEDING FOR OTHERS
A. (:5-6) Request Should Be Legitimate
“And He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him:’”
B. (:7) Rejection Must Not Discourage You
1. Nuisance Factor / Inconvenience
“and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me;’”
2. Timing Factor / Window of Opportunity Has Closed
“the door has already been shut”
3. Accessibility Factor
“and my children and I are in bed;”
4. Willingness Factor
“I cannot get up and give you anything.’”
The deck seems stacked against any type of positive response;
Instead of giving up and going away, you must double your efforts and persist in your request.
C. (:8) Principle: Persistence Matters
“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
J. Ligon Duncan: [“shameless” or “persistent”?] – Well, that’s exactly what’s going on in that story, isn’t it? Because in the story we’re going to read, a person goes and wakes a whole family up in the middle of the night. That’s why the ESV translates impudent here but it doesn’t mean it in the sense of being disrespectful or uppity. It means it in the sense of crossing the bounds of normally accepted social behavior. I just wanted to say that since we don’t use that word all the time. . .
Jesus wants us to beg. If I could put that in a little more elegant way, Jesus wants us to be importunate. Now there’s another word that we don’t normally use in our day to day conversation but it just means to beg, to plead, to appeal. Do you remember the story in the gospels of the importunate widow who went to the judge and she basically bugged him to death until he gave her justice? That’s what it is to be importunate. He wants us to beg, to plead, to appeal in prayer. . .
So why in the world would Jesus tell us that He wants us to beg in prayer? Because most of us have no idea how needy we are and how vulnerable our situation is.
James 4:17 “Elijah prayed earnestly”
Donald Miller: This is not to suggest that God is one whose reluctance to give must be overcome. It may, however, imply that although God is desirous of answering our prayers, he cannot do it lightly nor cheaply in response to half-hearted desire on our part. The importunity is necessary for us, not God.
This illustration of how persistence can lead to answered prayer moves us right into the next topic.
III. (:9-13) PROSPECTS OF ANSWERED PRAYER FROM YOUR GOOD HEAVENLY FATHER
A. (:9-10) Persistent Asking Leads to Receiving
1. (:9) Promise of Divine Response When You Ask / Seek / Knock
“And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”
We need to have the expectation that God will answer our prayers as we seek Him.
Steven Cole: Also, the idea of persistence is reinforced by the increasing intensity of the words “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.” Seeking is stronger than asking; knocking is stronger than seeking.
J. Ligon Duncan: not as you pray them, but according to the Father’s goodness He answers all your prayer.
2. (:10) Universal Principle – Receiving / Finding / Door Opening
“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.”
J. Ligon Duncan: Now, why in the world would Jesus say this? Because He knows that you pray and you stop, and sometimes you stop because you don’t think it’s working, because you’re not getting what you’ve prayed for, because it’s not turning out like you’d expected or hoped. And Jesus is saying, “Don’t stop praying, and if you have, start again because blessed is he and she who starts to pray over and over and over again.”
B. (:11-12) Earthly Fathers Don’t Disappoint and Give Something Harmful
1. (:11) Illustration #1 – Won’t Give a Snake Instead of a Fish
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?”
2. (:12) Illustration #2 – Won’t Give a Scorpion Instead of an Egg
“Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?”
Lenski: No father mocks his child in such a heartless way.
C. (:13) Principle: Heavenly Father Likes to Give Good Gifts to His Children –
Argument from the Lesser to the Greater
1. Contrast to Earthly Fathers
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,”
Heavenly Father far exceeds earthly fathers in the area of Goodness vs. Evil;
So the good gifts dispensed by our Heavenly Father should far exceed the good gifts given by evil earthly fathers.
2. Extent of the Gift Giving
“how much more shall your heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Our expectation should be of the “how much more” extent – even to the extent of the Father giving us the ultimate (all-inclusive) good gift = the Holy Spirit – a permanent and irrevocable gift.
But everything starts with the asking – no receiving apart from asking.
– Prayer is necessary
– Prayer should be natural within the family of God
– Prayer is effectual
– Prayer should be exciting
Rom. 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”