One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.'”
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘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.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
– Luke 11:1-13
How much more?
On Monday we looked at praising God when we feel like it and when we don’t. Today’s reading is on a similar theme. Jesus graciously helps his disciples, and us, to pray. When we don’t know what to pray; when the situation we are praying for is so complicated that we don’t know where to start, we can always pray the Lord’s prayer.
The part of today’s reading, however, that struck me today were the analogies that Jesus uses. He is trying to describe how much more loving our God is than us. Where we might begrudgingly help out a friend, not out of friendship but because it’s easier than arguing – God is much more ready to respond to our requests.
We encourage children to write letters to Santa, if a child asks for a Hello Kitty toy (which I know my God daughter Sophie has asked for), that’s what she’s going to get on Christmas day. Her parents wouldn’t give her a lump of coal instead.
Again, the message is clear – God wants to bless us and is far more ready to respond to our requests than we would be. We mustn’t interpret bad things happening to us as if that’s what God has chosen to do to us in response to our prayers. It’s as absurd as Sophie getting a lump of coal for Christmas!
The final sentence is interesting ‘how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
How often do you ask for the Holy Spirit? It’s the ancient prayer of the early Christians:
Maranatha – come, Lord Jesus.
We pray it through Advent: Come Lord Jesus. Come into my life, let me know that You’re there.
Here are two things that might help you to pray today. A video of the song ‘All who are thirsty’ – with the chorus ‘come Lord Jesus come’ and the collect for Advent from the Daily Office.
Keep us, O Lord,
while we tarry on this earth,
in a serious seeking after you,
and in an affectionate walking with you,
every day of our lives;
that when you come,
we may be found not hiding our talent,
nor serving the flesh,
nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished,
but waiting and longing for our Lord,
our glorious God for ever.
(Richard Baxter – 1691)