30 Sep 2013
In Luke 11:5-10 we find some interesting thoughts and insights.
“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and will say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread],” Notice the very personal nature of this teaching. Jesus is asking you and me if we are willing to be shamelessly persistent to pray even when it might be embarrassing. Even when our friends may by the nature of our requests find us to be less spiritual or on top of things than we have heretofore represented ourselves to be?
Luke 11:8 (AMP)
8 I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
Shamelessly persistent sounds more natural than persistently shameless, however the meaning of the word translated could likely represent the latter. The original word, often translated as importunity is a compound word made up of two words translated without and shame. This may seem like an insignificant point, but the sense of persistence seems to flow out of the shamelessness, that is the shamelessness is so great that it does not stop at mild or even strong resistance, but rather the shamelessness persists through even the greatest resistance.
This describes a level of resolve that is but little known in our praying in this day. Perhaps it was rare in the day of Jesus. He offered this challenge to His disciples when He personalized the question asking which one of them would be so unwavering as to ask in such a persistently shameless manner.
The next word following this challenging chronicle is the word so. ( verse 9) In other words Jesus is teaching that what He will teach in verses 9 and 10 is intrinsically integrated into the truth of what He had just proclaimed in verses 5 – 8.
“So I say to you.” We should pay close attention to the next words since we have the full strength of Jesus’ authority in words to follow. We have in effect Jesus’ personal guarantee of the validity of these words and their connection to the previous teaching based on His supreme and ultimate authority over all things in heaven and earth.
“So I say to you: Keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you, because everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the person who keeps searching will find, and the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.” Vs 9 -10 International Standard Version
It would be easy to divorce these words from the previous section and quickly come to the conclusion that Jesus is saying we must simply keep up our asking and knocking and seeking. Of course He is saying this, however since we have the word so connecting these two, we can dependently understand that the manner described in the verses 5-8 is closely related to the promise Jesus gives us in verses 9 and10.
We must look below the surface of repeating a prayer from a stubborn determination to get my own way, like a bulldog that will not let go. Rather it seems this passage speaks of a soft and unsoiled heart of the person who when trying to serve another will willingly put themselves in a less honored position in order to properly petition heaven for the need of their friend. Think for moment on the cross of Christ. God looks upon our heart. Jesus lived out of a heart speaking “not my will, but thy will be done.” God knows to the most microscopic level every slightest shade in our motives. Our motives matter much in prayer. God’s nature is not to resist our prayers, His nature is to look upon our hearts and provide for us as much as we need.
Since most of us are sufficiently self centered we typically interpret God’s promises in such a way as to exact an exaggerated bare minimum for ourselves and regardless of our failures we expect they should not affect the response from God. Self centeredness consistently grades itself graciously on an amazingly generous curve. Where the context or other passages imply or specifically teach that there are requirements on our side we have a tendency to regularly lightly regard or completely disregard such prerequisites and then arrogantly blame God for His failure to fulfill His promises.
God is the One Who can answer; He is the One Who can find. God is the One Who opens and no man can shut. Revelation 3:8 (KJV) [ concerning the church in Philadelphia]
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
“This gives the idea that Christ says, He sets before Philadelphia an open door because she has some little strength; whereas the sense rather is, He does so because she has "but little strength": being consciously weak herself, she is the fitter object for God's power to rest on [so AQUINAS], that so the Lord Christ may have all the glory.” —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
It seems that we should maintain an attitude of acute and humble need as we come to our Father. Individual independent strength is not a benefit to a Christ follower. We in our strength invariably compete for glory with the God of all glory. We should not seek to be powerful in prayer, but rather we should seek to be powerfully used in prayer for the glory of our God. God should be greatly glorified by the fruit of our praying.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NASB95)
10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul spoke about weakness as a thing in which to be content since the weakness of which he speaks is the key to the door of the strength of God. We too often despise weakness whenever and wherever we should find it. Upon finding it we immediately set about to extricate it from our presence.
2 Corinthians 13:4 (AMP)
4 For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He goes on living by the power of God. And though we too are weak in Him [as He was humanly weak], yet in dealing with you [we shall show ourselves] alive and strong in [fellowship with] Him by the power of God.
Jesus when assigned by the Father to die in our place in the fullness of time persisted toward His shameful humiliating torture and death that the fullness of God might be the possession of us who believe. The most powerful eternal being, the One upon Whom all authority has been bequeathed became weak for our benefit.
In order to be strong in Christ, we must maintain our perspective of personal weakness. When we perceive ourselves to be strong we are weak. Our weakness comes in part from our corrupted perception that we are strong and thus have little need to pray. Our strength comes when we are fully aware of our weaknesses and cry out to God for His strength.
In this light as we pray for revival we must not pray that the church will become strong, but that the church will become more dependent on the grace and mercy and power of God. That she might become the sweet submissive seeking bride, soft clay in the hands of the potter. We should pray for an accurate view of our God that will bring into proper perspective our weaknesses and our desperate need for His strength.