Last night I attend our church’s weekly prayer meeting. The message given was very long, about 50 minutes, but it was full of the unction of God’s Spirit. The portion taken was from Luke 11.1-13, which shows us the model prayer (a.k.a. the Lord’s Prayer) and the illustration of persevering prayer given in the story of the Friend at Midnight.
The speaker first spoke about five instances of the Lord praying in Luke’s gospel. Luke 3.21, when He was baptised. Luke 5.16, when He prayed in the wilderness. Luke 6.12, when He prayed all night. Luke 9.28, 29, when He prayed on the Mount of Transfiguration. Till that time the Lord had done miracles, but simultaneously He had a prayer life. The disciples had observed the Lord’s miracles, but they never followed His example in prayer. In Luke 11, we see the Lord praying for His disciples – that they may learn the secret of prayer. That is why the disciples asked, Lord, teach us to pray! They had never experienced the power of prayer, but they now learnt that behind the Lord’s power in miracles was His practice of prayer. So they asked, Lord, teach us to pray.
What is our prayer life like? Can our children say, “Yes, my parents pray”? Or will they say, “No, my parents are always quarreling.” Or, “They are always doing something else, or busy enjoying themselves.” What is our prayer life like? Today the need of the church is for prayer warriors; God wants intercessors.
It is God who gives the desire for prayer. And we must learn to pray in the Spirit. In fact, in Eph 6.18 we are told to pray in the Spirit. Or rather, it is the Spirit who inspires us, energizes us in prayer. At this point, the speaker quoted some verses from Ephesians relating to the Holy Spirit. First, Eph 1.13, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit the day we are born again. Then, Eph 4.32, but we should not grieve the Holy Spirit. If we grieve the Spirit by our argumentative nature or our disobedient, insubordinate attitudes, we cannot pray. Thirdly, Eph 5.18, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. And finally, Eph 6.18, we must pray in the Spirit. In fact the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we can pray. In Luke 11.13, our Lord saying that we should ask for the Holy Spirit implies that we need the power of the Spirit, the burden of the Spirit, to learn to pray and to pray with perseverance. Remember Rom 8.26, where we see the Holy Spirit groaning on our behalf.
We should understand that God has His own need, and we must pray to fulfill God’s need. However, at the same time we must realize that we have no resources of our own to fulfill God’s need or the needs of others. At this point, the speaker went on to the story of the Friend at Midnight. He had nothing to give. We too have nothing to give. We must understand our limitations, our emptiness, our helplessness. We must be brought to the point where we cry, “I have nothing!” God works wonderfully when we are empty and broken.
The speaker closed by referring to the acronym A.S.K. Ask, Seek, Knock. Without the desire or without understanding the need, we cannot Ask. Then we must Seek – seeking means prayer, to learn to pray and keep praying. Finally, we come to Knock – when we should not give up, but keep crying out with importunity till the answer comes. What is the main point of that parable of the Friend at Midnight? His importunity – He did not give up! So we must keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. And because of our importunity, the answer will surely come!
May the Lord teach us to pray with perseverance!