Praying ‘the Jesus way

Praying ‘the Jesus way’ (Luke 11:1-13) 

  1. The setting for his teaching (11:1, 13)

En route south to his death on Calvary (Luke 9:51), as ‘Jesus prayed’, ‘one of his disciples’ requested that he train them all ‘to pray’ (Luke 11:1). In reply, our Lord repeated his instructions from their earliest days with him (Matthew 6:5-15; 7:7-11) but in a condensed form (since this was revision time for his trainees!). But he ended with one fresh detail: those ‘good things’ that ‘your Father … in heaven [will] give to those who ask him (Matthew 7:11) now, closer to Pentecost, focus specifically on ‘the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 11:13). So, the key to praying is:

* our hunger for the Holy Spirit’s guidance (e.g. to achieve corporate agreement, Matthew 18:18-20) to prevent our praying becoming a religious chore. 

  1. His seminar’: How to pray in various situations (Matthew 18:2-13)

Praying routinely (Matthew 18:2-4): ‘When[ever] you pray, say…’ Note: Your kingdom’ takes precedence over our … bread’.

Praying in an emergency (Matthew 18:5-8) – detailed below.

Praying when our prayers meet resistance (Matthew 18:9-10) –‘keep asking…’ (Greek).

Praying relationally: by listening to the Holy Spirit (Matthew 18:11-13).           

  1. His strategy for an emergency: Pray rudely! (Matthew 18:5-8)
  2. The key Greek noun is anaideia (8), but what does it mean?

The stem of the word (= aideia) means respectability (decency, modesty). The prefix ‘an’ means ‘no’ (as in English anonymous = ‘un-named’, from Greek onoma). So this word in the text implies disrespect (indecency, immodesty). The English Standard Version renders it ‘impudence’, meaning ‘lack of respect’. Strangely, the ESV margin paraphrases it as ‘persistence’, even though nowhere in the storyline is there any suggestion that the man in his emergency makes a fuss at his neighbour’s door. The disturbed neighbour complains about all the hazards obstructing his way to solving his friend’s need at that very inconvenient hour. Nevertheless, he rises and gives him whatever he needs, not merely as a friend, but because of his friend’s impudence – his lack-of-respect for this family’s needs of privacy, security and sleep.

* Boldness gets answers (not just persistence). 

  1. But is ‘Father’ like this neighbour (Matthew 18:5-8)?

Surely our Lord throughout this brief seminar is emphasising God’s readiness to answer, in contrast to the reluctance of a human ‘friend’ or an uncaring earthly ‘father’ (who might offer ‘a sea-serpent’ for ‘a fish’ or ‘a scorpion’ for ‘an egg’, Matthew 18:11-12)? The predominant word throughout Luke 11:1-13 is ‘give’. It occurs nine times, together with ‘ask’ (x5), ‘lend’ (x1) and ‘receive’ (x1) – totalling sixteen indications that God’s simple response to prayer is his giving and our receiving. 

  1. The intercessor’s Supplier has to ‘rise’ from sleep

To ‘rise’ from one’s ‘bed’ [or ‘sleep’] (7-8) is often the language of ‘resurrection from the dead’ (Luke 8:52-55; John 11:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 51-52; Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12) – and Jesus is here heading to Calvary and Joseph’s tomb.

            * To pray effectively we must continually draw on Jesus’ enabling as our Great High Priest who, having died, now ‘always live to make intercession for’ us in his ‘power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16, 25), through his Spirit’s intercession within us (Romans 8:10-11, 26-27).

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