Luke Bible Study (Journey with Jesus)

Luke 11:1-13, How To Talk To God

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Luke has been using this section of his gospel to teach us about Christian discipleship. In our last lesson we noticed that Jesus taught that disciples realize there is only one necessary thing – sitting at the feet of Jesus. The scene before us in Luke 11 begins with Jesus praying. When he finished praying, one of the disciples as Jesus to teach them to pray. John apparently taught this disciples how to pray and now Jesus is going to teach us how to pray. Many of us probably think that we know how to pray. Many of us may not know how to talk to God. Jesus is going to challenge our prayer life as he teaches how true disciples talk to God.

Disciples Pray Pursuing God’s Purposes (11:1-2)

Jesus begins by calling God, “Father.” Jesus teaches his disciples that prayers do not need to begin with long flowing descriptions. We are instructed to speak intimately with God, speaking with him as our Father. Jesus does not say that only he can call God, “Father,” but we are also to God, “Father.” Talking to God does not require formalism. My children do not talk to me with Shakespearian English.

Jesus continues by teaching us to pray for the name of God to be kept holy. The NLT does a good job translating this verse. “Father, may your name be kept holy.” I believe God’s words to Ezekiel explains what it means for God’s name to be kept holy.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:22–23 ESV)

We are praying for the holiness of God to always be revealed. Further, we are reminding ourselves that we keep the name of God holy through our words and through our actions. We cannot exalt the holiness of God in prayer if our daily words and actions do not reveal God’s holiness. God told Ezekiel that he was acting on behalf of his holy name because the people of Israel had profaned God’s holiness through their actions. They claimed to be the people of God but they did not uphold God’s holiness. Disciples uphold the holiness of God through speech and action. We do not use God’s name as a curse word. We do not throw the name of God around as if it were a common exclamation. Our words uphold the high holiness of God. Our lives reveal God’s holiness not discredit the name of God to the world.

Jesus continues by instructing the disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom. It is possible that Jesus merely has in view the arrival of Christ’s kingdom which would take place in a year or two after speaking these words. But I do not think this is the case simply because this is the disciples asking how to pray. I do not believe that Jesus would teach them how to pray in way that future disciples would come to these words as say that we are not to pray these words because the kingdom already happened. Do not forget that Luke is writing to teach Theophilus in this gospel and writing for future disciples to come. When Luke writes, the kingdom of Christ had already arrived. Yet Luke still writes down our Lord’s words to pray for the kingdom to come. There is another aspect of that I believe is in view when Jesus teaches the disciples to pray for the kingdom to come. While the kingdom began in Acts 2 the scriptures teach that Christ must continue to rule in this kingdom until every knee bows and every enemy is destroyed. The apostle Paul states that Christ must rule in this kingdom until he destroys every rule and every authority and power (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). Jesus was not telling his disciples to pray for Acts 2 when the kingdom would arrive. Jesus is teaching to pray for the rule of the kingdom to come into the world and into the heart of every person. We are praying for all powers and authorities to be subjected to Christ. We are praying for every person to be subjected to Christ. The kingdom has come and the kingdom continues its reign until every enemies of Christ has been subjugated.

Disciples Pray Relying on God’s Provisions (11:3-4)

Finally, in verse 3-4 Jesus teaches his disciples to depend on God physically and spiritually. Praying for our daily bread reveals our dependence on God to provide our physical needs. We are recognizing that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. We are acknowledging that our physical blessings are given to us by God. Further, we rely on God for our spiritual protection. Every prayer rightly asks for forgiveness from sins. But our forgiveness is contingent on forgiving others. A disciple readily forgives, not holding grudges or using offenses for selfish manipulation, because God has forgiven us. When we are not readily forgiving those who seek our forgiveness, then we are no longer Christians because God will not forgive us. We are lost in our sins when we do not forgive others when they offend us and seek repentance. Prayer is the way we express our dependence on God. Prayer humbles us so that we accept in our hearts that we need God and understand that we cannot live without him.

Disciples Pray Boldly (11:5-8)

Jesus continues to teach his disciples about how to talk to God by telling a parable. Hospitality was very important in ancient near eastern society. The man has a friend who arrived on a journey and the man has no food to give him. There is not a Walmart or 24 hour convenience store to go get food. It is the middle of the night. The friend says he will not get up and give him anything because the door is shut and the children are in bed with them. We cannot think of our three bedroom home with quiet doors. The house only has one room and the whole family is asleep together. The whole family will wake up if he gets up and open the door. Verse 8 is the point of the parable. The friend will get up, not because they are friends, but because of this man’s impudence. Many translations read “persistence” but many scholars point out that persistence is not exactly the point. Regarding the Greek word that the ESV translates “impudence,” Bock states, “It is a hard word to translate into English, for it refers to a combination of boldness and shamelessness. Thus, the stress is not on persistence or repetition of the request, as much as it is on the boldness or nerve of the request. This petitioner has gall” (Bock, BECNT, 1059). Philip Graham Ryken states the word means the man “acts without any sensibility to shame or disgrace” (Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary, 585). The ESV Study Bible says it refers to “a lack of sensitivity for what is proper.” Thus, the ESV rendering of “impudence” is a good rendering as well as the NIV 2011 rendering, “shameless audacity.” Do you see that this is the point of the story? It is not the man’s persistence of the request. It is the timing of the request along with the persistence. This man had boldness and gall to make this request at such an hour. The friend in the house gives him the bread because he is such an irritant.

Jesus’ point is that disciples pray boldly with shameless nerve. Prayer is the audaciously bold request for God to do what he has promised. This shameless boldness is not for selfish requests. We are not praying for things to fulfill our selfish desires (cf. James 4:3). Further, we see this point in this context. The model prayer does not have room for selfish requests. Rather, we are revealing our complete dependence on God. We are telling God what is happening in our lives and the things that we need spiritually or physically. Go to God in prayer boldly. Ask for great things to happen in your life. You are given the offer to make bold, audacious requests to your Lord. What have you been afraid to ask God to do in your life? Are you struggling with daily food because of economic conditions or physical hardships? God said to pray for that and pray boldly for it. Are you struggling in your faith? God tells you to make audacious prayers for your spiritual life. Are you trying to encourage another brother or sister in Christ? God says you should pray boldly for them. Are you trying to teach your friends the gospel? Shameless pray for their souls.

God Responds to Prayer as a Father to a Child (11:9-13)

The final paragraph shows how God will respond to such prayers. Verse 9 tells us to ask and keep asking. We are given the invitation to prayer. Seek and keep seeking. Pursue God and his will. Seeking the goals and purposes of the kingdom. Knock and keep knocking. We are entering through the door into God’s presence to receive blessing. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. God answers our bold requests in his name. Notice verse 10. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” God provides for his children. This is the illustration that Jesus uses to explain why God answers prayers.

Notice verses 11-12. What father would give a snake to the son who asks for a fish? What father will give his son a scorpion when he asks for an egg? Here is the son who is in physical need. What father is going to give his child something that he does not need? Even more, what father is going to give his child something harmful? No father would do that. The father gives what the child needs and does not give what is harmful to them. Now watch the point in verse 13.

If we are evil people and yet we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give us the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! If we know how to give our children what they need when they ask, and we are evil and sinful, then HOW MUCH MORE does our Father in heaven know what to give us? How much more will our heavenly Father do for us? Notice the interchangeable use of “good gifts” and “Holy Spirit” in this text. Matthew 7:11 reads exactly as Luke 11:13 except Matthew says “good gifts” rather than “Holy Spirit.” I think this is a very important point that Luke is making. Luke’s focus is on the good gifts that were promised through the Holy Spirit. The prophets wrote that the Holy Spirit would be poured out and the imagery signified the restoration of God’s kingdom, the restoration of God’s fellowship with them, and the restoration of God’s blessings to his people. The restoration of God’s blessings to his people is in view by Luke. We are given a blank check request for the necessities of the spiritual life. God is going to give you everything you need to get through this life. Ask him boldly for the things you need as you depend on him. God is going to provide for his children. He is not going to give a scorpion when you need an egg. God will give you the Holy Spirit. Do not try to make this mystical and strange. It is a simple promise made repeatedly through the scriptures. God is going to give you his blessings when you ask. What do you truly need right now? Ask God. Shamelessly be persistent in your request to the God who gives you every good gift and perfect blessing for your life.

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