Proper 12 —
Prayer is at once the believer’s greatest privilege, obligation and spiritual weapon. Sadly, prayer is also our greatest neglect. In
this passage, Jesus taught us to pray by means of a pattern, a parable and a promise.
1. The Pattern for Praying (vv. 1-4)
Jesus was in prayer, not an uncommon sight to the apostles. As they watched Him talk with the Father in such intimate, natural
language, they asked Him to teach them how to pray.
A.When you pray, pray to the Father: “our Father.”
B.When you pray, pray for God’s will: “Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”
C.When you pray, ask for daily provisions: “Give us each day our daily bread.”
D.When you pray, ask for forgiveness: “Forgive us our sins.”
E.When you pray, ask for daily spiritual victory: “Lead us not into temptation.”
That last statement is an interesting request. Does God ever lead us into temptation? No. James said in
2. The Parable About Praying (vv. 5-8)
The intent of this parable is a contrast, not a comparison. Our father is not like the unwilling, calloused friend; rather, He is a God who never sleeps and who delights in His children coming to Him. The point is that if the midnight seeker received what he asked because of persistence, how much more shall God’s children receive from Him when we persevere in prayer!
3. The Promise of Answered Prayer (vv. 9-13)
With endearing words, Jesus promises that we have a loving Father in heaven who hears and responds.
A. The Promise of an Answer: “Ask…Seek…Knock”
Ask and keep on asking (the tense of all three verbs is present—ongoing action); it shall be given you. Seek and keep on seeking;
you shall find. Knock and keep on knocking; it shall be opened unto you. That’s the promise of prayer. Be persistent, and it shall be answered.
B. The Promise that He will Answer Correctly: “if you the being evil…how much more”
Here is another contrast rather than a comparison. He’s contrasting uncommon God from common man. He says, “If you who are evil” (and we are) know how to give good gifts to our children, surely a holy God knows how to give good gifts to those who belong to Him: “Have any of you ever been asked of your child for a piece of bread and you gave him a rock? Or, if he asks for a piece of fish, do you give him a serpent. Or, if he asks for an egg, do you give him a scorpion?” No. The promise of prayer is, God not only answers prayer, but He answers correctly.
C. The Promise that, Whatever the Answer, He gives the Holy Spirit
The sweet Holy Spirit of God, given to all believers, is our indwelling strength and incentive to carry on regardless of how or
when God chooses to answer!
How true are the words of William Walford’s hymn, “Oh what grief we often forfeit/Oh what needless pain we bear/All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”