The study of a Christian’s spiritual growth.
- How do we mature spiritually? What does God require of us? (Deuteronomy 10:12)
- We are blessed to know that our sins are fully forgiven by the atoning work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- We have the Christian’s hope in God which is not wishful thinking, but wholly certain, because our God is Faithful.
- Prayer is an essential element as we desire to grow spiritually.
Thought: Have we been maturing spiritually since we have accepted Christ as our Saviour? Which stage are you facing the most difficulty in?
Text: Luke 11:1-13
- To whom was Jesus praying to? It was directed to God the Father. Across the New Testament, Jesus always directed to His Father (eg. John 11:41) – except on one occasion, when He cried out unto God while on the cross (Matthew 27:46)
- Why did Jesus need to pray? We know that He is God and retains all attributes to God. Why was there a need for Jesus to pray? As a man, he was clothed with all his human infirmities. Jesus is God, but He prays because of His humanity – a need to pray and to pray continually. Jesus sets the example for us – if Christ needs to pray, how much more then should we (being who we are) need to do the same!
There is a difference in our prayers – prayers in the Old Testament are composed of those who called out unto God out of need, but we also pray because of our emptiness. Prayer was an integral and essential part of the life of Christ. He prayed at His baptism, before He chose His disciples, before Peter’s confession, at His transfiguration. He prayed and taught the disciples how to pray, and He prayed even at the cross (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35). That should also be our attitude when it comes to prayer.
Whenever Jesus had a duty to perform, he committed it in prayer. Even in the busiest seasons, Jesus still set aside time to pray. How often do we pray when we are swarmed with busyness? Do we make it a reason to not pray? Yet we see Christ making the toughest and most hectic times the core reason to pray.
Martin Luther – [I’m so busy that I could not afford not to pray!]
Jesus prayed even during crises in His life on earth (Matthew 26), even on the cross, He cried out to God. Similarly, we are driven to our knees in prayer even in our present situations (global pandemic around the world, uncertain circumstances in our lives).
Disciples did not seek after Christ’s power in miracles and His preaching, but to teach them to pray. The greatest demonstration of divine power was when Christ prayed. The disciples could not believe what they saw and heard, they have not witnessed this kind of communion between man and God. They saw in Christ the power and glory in prayer.
Christ speaks of the Lord’s prayer (verses 2-4), but the focus of this sermon is on the Persistence of Prayer (verses 5-10). Praying assumes a relationship with God (we must be born again to address God as our Father, and we must be committed to seeking first the Kingdom of God so that we will not pray amiss, and our prayer must have the goal of adoring God’s Name and seeing His Kingdom here on earth).
Thought: What is one thing you can learn from the example of Christ in His prayer life? Remember that prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s growth, and how more blessed it is to pray with like-minded brethren.
Persistence of Prayer (verses 5-10)
v8-9 “I say unto you” – it is an indication of an application.
Prayer is motivated by a need.
- The persistent man did not have the resources to provide for his friend.
- He had an awareness of the great need and lack of resources, and that should also drive us to pray.
Sometimes we forget to pray because we do not see our needs. We have to pray because we are needy people! We also assume our own sufficiency; where we assume that prayer is a booster for our lives. Yet, we are destitute of physical and spiritual resources, unless God graciously provides them for us. Furthermore, it is the great matter and salvation of the soul – which is man’s most desperate and urgent need, that should cause us to pray earnestly and fervently. As we approach God in prayer for our own needs, we should also use it to further the Kingdom of God (verse 2).
Prayer must be persistent.
Necessity drives the persistence in our prayer. Because of the man’s importunity (also referred to as persistence), the neighbour gave him bread in the end (verse 8). The man had to do what he needed to do even though the timing was bad. He was shamelessly persistent to make a request at an inconvenient time. We know that God is not like this neighbour, because God never rests, and He hearkens unto our prayers (…the prayer of the upright is his delight. – Proverbs 15:8b). God is not reluctant to hear our prayers, and the point of the parable shows the comparison of how much more God will respond to our prayers when we come to Him as compared to the annoyed neighbour who still helps the persistent man. Therefore, we should be bold and persistent to bring our requests to God at any hour and in any situation.
Prayer must be intensive.
In verses 9-10, we see that the act of Asking, Seeking, Knocking is continuous and increasing in intensity. Asking – is the basic level of prayer, and we know that there are certain needs that require us to ask of God (James 1:5-6). Hence, we must ask in faith. The question is not asking did God give, but rather will we accept what God has given? To seek is more intensive than asking, which involves a series of events in searching for something. In Matthew 18, the shepherd seeks after his sheep everywhere, and not just a corner of the pasture. Paul sought after God three times because of His infirmities. To others, they would have concluded that God did not answer Paul’s plea to remove these thorns in his flesh. But through it, Paul saw God’s goodness, His purposes in his life – because God’s grace is sufficient for him, and His power is made great in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The prophet Jeremiah also reminds us to seek God with all our hearts, for we shall find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Knock – we must not cease to pray despite obstacles in our lives (Romans 1:9 – Paul’s unceasing prayer for the Christians in Rome).
Thought: What are some ways we can recognise God’s goodness in our lives? How can we build upon that to improve our prayer life?
Certainty of Prayer answered.
From verses 11-13, Christ has changed the picture from a cranky neighbour to a loving Father who meets the needs of His children. The purpose is to encourage us to come to God – knowing that He cares for us and will meet our needs. Our minds are always focused on what we can gain materially from God. But Christ directs us away from material things to spiritual things (verse 13). We must know and remind ourselves that God is our Father. The devil causes us to doubt the goodness of God. The final resolution to the problem of sufferings, trials, evilness, lies not presently, but in eternity. These problems do not undermine God’s goodness and love for us in any way. We must come to Him in faith and ask Him for a fuller measure of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our greatest need is to be continually filled by the Holy Spirit. We have observed that Jesus’ ministry was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our prayer counts for nothing until the self is mortified. It is the end of the self, transforming into the total dependence on and submission to God, that makes prayer powerful. Christ is telling us to come before God as needy children, not for material things or earthly benefits, but because of the promise that God will not hold back anything from His children for our spiritual good. We must come to God in trust because He desires for us to prosper spiritually, and then would our perspective change for every circumstance that comes our way.
For those who are still outside the Kingdom of God – you must come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that should be your first prayer. And we know that Christ bestows unto us the wonderful promise of salvation.
For believers – prayer is the root of vital practical Christian living, the root of our experience of God’s power and His presence.
Matthew Henry – [Those who live without prayer, live without God in this world.]
His point is that prayer is the way we can experience assurance and nearness to God. If we are not praying, we are depriving ourselves of fellowship and communion with God. We must understand that prayer is a means of grace for us to come to God. If we really want to know God, to walk with Him, we must engage and come to Him in persistent prayer.