Maybe nowadays it is more normal to walk up to someone’s door at midnight and start knocking. And they don’t answer. So you knock a little louder. “WHAT?” they bark. “Sorry to bug you, but please lend me three loaves of bread to feed my friends who just showed up at my front door.” “Do you know what time it is? Go away! This is a one-roomed house and everyone will wake up if I open the pantry and go rummaging!” “But I really need it!” “I said go away.” “Come on, do it as a favor for me as a friend.” Sigh. Creak. Groan. Ooof. Door ajar, loaves shoved out. “Now go away! I’m not doing this as a favor. This is only so you’ll leave.”
The moral of this story? Pray more. Yes, this is Jesus’ teaching on prayer. For another version, enjoy the video below. It is priceless!
This is Luke 11, right after the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. He was always praying. John had taught his disciples. So Jesus’ disciples asked for His method.
Luke records a shortened version of the famous “Lord’s Prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13. It begins the same – focusing on God as Father. I wonder if that was shocking to the Jews, such a close view of God.
Hallowed. What a weird word. I googled it, and found the top listing as: honor as holy, or greatly respected.
Okay, but what does the Greek say? Yes, Strong’s dictionary agrees: to regard as special, to set aside, to designate for a special purpose. In everyday life, I set aside money for vacation. Or designate some cookie dough to eat cold. But “holy or “set aside” meant a lot more in the Jewish mind. There were years and years of God telling the Jews that THIS day of the week is not for working (the Sabbath). THIS location is only for certain people who are doing certain things to honor me (the Temple and priests). THIS people follows totally different rules than everyone else because I am the boss of them (Israel, the nation).
I never think of God’s name as set aside to be holy. So often I just jump in and start listing my requests. But it shows respect to Him. Jesus told them to pray, “Your kingdom come.” God is the One in charge, and His plan is the one that we are trying to work out.
I have always struggled with giving God control. I try to shake off reminders of “restrictive rules” so I can do what I want. Why not? Why let God be in control, follow words written down before English became a language? Because as much as I don’t like to admit it sometimes, they work better than my plan. And heal the gnawing of my gut that I bury with distractions until I finally come back to prayer.
Prayer is powerful. To a Father. Who just won’t give up on us, pushing us to not stop till our best. So different than anything I would expect.
Jesus goes on. Give us our daily bread. Forgive us our sin-debt. We’ve forgiven all the sin-debt others owed us. And do not lead us to temptation (I find it easily enough on my own).
Jesus tells the parable of the loaves. He elaborates on how much we should keep asking. Knock. Seek. Find. Persist. Be impudent with God! He’s not going to trick you. And what is the promised gift?
The Holy Spirit. Wait, I already have that. Oh, but do you live with the Holy Spirit in control? Jesus did.
The rest of the chapter shows more of Jesus’ life…and it’s intense. But He based His life on prayer. This gave Jesus the perspective to call out the Pharisees at their own dinner party. And when a scribe spoke up, Jesus called that group out, too! He spoke the truth boldly against the established, corrupt power base. Yet Jesus did this without sinning.
And we have His Spirit.
I really want to understand prayer better, this impudent knocking at God’s door. I’m going to start asking for that.