The fact that a father often says “no” to his child’s requests rarely keeps the child from continuing to make requests. They believe that their father loves them and provides for them.
Jesus teaches us a similar truth about prayer. The fact that our Heavenly Father often says “no” to our requests, should not keep us from boldly, shamelessly asking Him for what is in our hearts.
Lesson 1: Prayer is essential to our spiritual life (Luke 11:1).
Luke 11 begins with the only time in the gospels that the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them how to do something. They asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
Many people treat prayer like an airplane oxygen mask. It’s there for us to use only in case of emergency. But to Jesus, prayer wasn’t an oxygen mask, it was oxygen itself and it was vital to His moment-to-moment existence.
Jesus taught this spiritual lesson to His disciples, not by His word, but by His example. Throughout this gospel we have seen that Jesus prayed continually—before His temptation in the wilderness, before choosing the apostles, before performing great miracles.
Lesson 2: We should pray as Christ instructed us (Luke 11:2-4).
Jesus never intended this prayer as a mantra to be repeated privately or in public. In fact, there is no instance in the Bible of this prayer ever being uttered word for word.
Instead of a mantra, it was a model for how to pray. Prayer is based on our relationship with God (Gal. 4:6), conditioned by the will of God (1 John 5:14), and includes our requests to God.
Lesson 3: God rewards boldness in praying (Luke 11:5-10).
Jesus says we need to exercise persistence in our praying – keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Luke 11:9). Persistence is not unchristian. God honors persistence in every area of life, including our praying.
Jesus is not saying that prayer is a matter of wearing down a reluctant God to give us something He really doesn’t want to give us. In Luke 11, Jesus asks if a reluctant neighbor can be moved to action by persistence, how much more will our Heavenly Father reward us, His children, by our persistence in asking?
Lesson 4: God’s reputation and God’s love are His motivation for answering our prayers (Luke 11:11-13).
God is committed to anything and anyone who carries His name. And that is why we should continue to ask, seek and knock in prayer. Not because we are trying to wear God down, but because there is Someone on the other side who is listening and is committed to our well-being. The fact that we are the objects of His eternal affection, is the greatest motivation for us to ask, and to keep on asking Him for what we need and for what we desire. He promises to give us the best gift of all – the power of the Holy Spirit.
Can you imagine coming to God and asking for His power to love your family members as you should, for His grace to make it through a trial you’ve encountered, for His assistance to provide for yourself and for your family and then be turned away empty handed? It’s unthinkable.
That is why we should boldly, shamelessly ask God for His best gifts.