Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Father's Readiness

"Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread …’ ” (Luke 11:5).

The Lord’s Prayer seems to have some pretty strange petitions in it. One that confuses people sometimes is “Lead us not into temptation.” We can understand that request when we realize the Greek word for temptation also means “test.” We are asking God to spare us fiery trials, or at least not to test us beyond what we are able to stand.

Another petition that is sometimes misunderstood is the last one: “Deliver us from evil.” In Greek the word evil is clearly masculine, and thus refers to the evil one, Satan. Just as Jesus did battle with the devil, so His people throughout all ages will have to face the same enemy, even though our victory is assured in Christ. We are to pray that God will deliver us from the assaults of the devil and keep us in His kingdom.

Jesus then tells a parable to show just how ready the Father is to grant such requests. A man goes to his friend at an inconvenient hour to ask for bread, “because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (v. 6). The owner of the house does not want to climb out of bed, wake up the kids, unbar the door, and generally go through the hassle needed to satisfy his neighbor’s needs. But Jesus says, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (vv. 7–8). The meaning of the parable is given a few verses later: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (v. 13).

There is both a comparison and a contrast here. On the one hand, we need to go to God and ask, and sometimes we need to be persistent because God wants to deepen our faith by making us draw closer and closer to Him in prevailing prayer. On the other hand, God is never asleep at midnight and has no reluctance whatsoever to answer our prayers. Nothing inconveniences Him.

Take a look at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–12. You probably already know it by heart, but have you used it as an outline for prayer? Do so now. As you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to help you expand and apply each petition.