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If you could have Jesus teach you anything, what would you request? Would you like to walk on water? How about feeding a large crowd of people with a few loaves and fish? What did the the men who had spent the most time with Jesus ask Him to teach them? His disciples were so impressed with His prayer life, that they asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).

Our Lord’s habit of prayer was one of the most significant aspects of His life to His disciples. Jesus graciously acquiesced to their request and gave them a pattern for prayer. Jesus went beyond a pattern because He know that if you don’t have the right mindset you won’t pray. Jesus therefore, gave them a parable,

Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says 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’; and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 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. (Luke 11:5-8)

Jesus used a negative example in contrast to God’s true nature. God is not reluctant to answer our prayer like the neighbor in this parable. Also, the locus of responsibility for answered prayer does not reside with our ability, but with God’s benevolence. The key to this parable is the word in verse eight that is often translated “persistence”. Luke uses a word that literally means “without shame”.  We have a tendency to focus on our performance whereas the emphasis is on God’s provision. E. Stanley Jones taught that “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but it is believing in a God who hears, answers, and even exceeds our requests.”

What folly to think that all our blessings come from God, but prayer, upon which everything else depends, must be obtained by personal effort.  Jesus then closed with a promise,

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”   (Luke 13)

This promise is the inheritance of every believer. Prayer is the opportunity that we have to commune with the God of the universe. Our God is the God of the how much more!  When you realize God’s gracious love for you and that it’s not based upon your performance, then you realize that prayer is not a duty, but a wonderful delight.


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