Answering With the Holy Spirit: Luke 11:1-13

Focus Passage: Luke 11:1-13 (GNT)

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:
 ‘Father:
    May your holy name be honored;
    may your Kingdom come.

3 Give us day by day the food we need.

4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
    And do not bring us to hard testing.’”

5 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6 A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ 7 And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. 9 And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. 11 Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? 12 Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 13 As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Read Luke 11:1-13 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While teaching the disciples how to pray and how God wants us to be dedicated and persistent with our prayers, Jesus shares in the gospel of Luke some of the most famous words about prayer and asking God for answers that are included in the entire Bible.

Luke tells us that after sharing a parable about being persistent with our requests, Jesus continues by saying, “And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks.” (v. 9-10)

If Jesus had stopped sharing here, which is where most people do, we would get the picture that God is like a genie in a bottle who is happy to grant any request we might ask of Him. This would include requests that are helpful, requests that are entirely selfish and self-serving, and even request that are harmful to us and/or others. Taking these two verses out of the context of what came before and especially what comes after distorts God’s character of love into being cheap, hollow, and something that can be easily abused.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t stop sharing in verse 10. He continues by giving a little more context in verse 11 and onward by saying, “Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (v. 11-13)

In this clarification, we find two key ideas that we should remember when looking for answers to our prayers. The first is that God, being the perfect Father, will only answer our prayers with things that are helpful and for our benefit. Sometimes the thing that is the most helpful for us is a trial that will help wake us up or develop some part of our character that is weak, while other times, the thing that is the most helpful is exactly what we are asking for. While the answers God gives us when we ask, seek, and knock are not always what we expect, we can trust that they are what God knows is the best for us.

The second key idea is that Jesus tells us the type of prayers He is referring to in the last verse. “How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (v. 13)

While God is free to answer or not answer any of our other prayers and requests, the whole context of this discussion on prayer, persistence, and asking, seeking, and knocking revolves around our requesting and desiring more of God’s Holy Spirit. In many ways, answering our prayers by giving us the Holy Spirit is God’s default way of answering our requests, because when eternity is on the line, the Holy Spirit is the best answer to help guide us into a saving relationship with God and Jesus. Every other possible answer is secondary.

So when we pray, when we ask, when we seek, and when we knock, don’t be surprised if God sends us the Holy Spirit as an answer to our prayers, because in the grand picture of History, saving us for eternity is the most important thing in God’s mind when He looks at us living in the world today.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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