Thursday, July 21, 2016

Luke 11:1-13 Power of Persistent Prayer

Luke 11:9-14 “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Our heavenly Father is a good God and will only give good gifts to his children. Jesus promises that if we ask, seek and knock in greater intensity and urgency, God will yield to our persistence and grant us our request. Just like the man asking for bread from his sleeping and reluctant neighbxzor who was rewarded because of his persistence, so God will yield to persistence. And unlike the reluctant neighbour, God is a willing Father. So Jesus is saying that persistence in prayer will be rewarded. The words “ask, seek and knock” suggests persistence and increasing intensity in our prayer. 

Our Father is not only willing but He's waiting to bless us when we ask. When we are not receiving, it is not because God is not willing, but because we are not willing to persevere in our prayer. We quit too soon and fall back on our own "time-tested" wisdom to solve our problem. 

A few days ago I was very encouraged by a godly pastor/evangelist. He was sharing with me about the secret of his security in God—his security comes from building his intimacy with God as Father and lettiing him take care of his needs ever since he launched out in his ministry. Despite his many years' experience in his past of running multiple businesses, he has now learned to trust God to fund his church and ministry. He admitted that he has done away with budgeting because he could not project where his funds would come from or how much money he would receive. But prayer is high on his ministry agenda and he has surpluses in his ministry every year. 

So Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (v.13). Listen to Jesus' emphasis on "how much more“! God will give us good gifts beyond what we ask or think! And among his good gifts, the greatest gift is the Holy Spirit. Some Christians are theologically handicapped: they think that once they have received the Holy Spirit at conversion or baptism (depending on their theology), they don’t need to ask for it any more. They think of the Spirit as a spatial entity: once you’ve “got it” He is inside you 100%. That is fallacious thinking because the finite can never contain 100% of the infinite. 

If we “got it” it’s probably just a deposit: "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13-14). Jesus compares the Spirit to wind: and like wind, no matter how much of it we have received in our lungs, there is still always room for more wind inside us. The amount of wind we have in us depends on the capacity of our lungs. The bigger our lungs, the more we can receive. 

So unless our spiritual capacity has stagnated since our conversion, there is always a need for "more" of the Spirit. At conversion, we may be "filled" with the Spirit. And that is just the deposit. We need to go on "being filled" until we are “full” of the Spirit: "Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them" (Acts 6:3-4). Peter's advice to the congregation to seek out those who are "full of the Spirit" suggests that not all are "full" of the Spirit, though all were "filled" with the Spirit at Pentecost.
We need more of the Spirit as we yield more of our life to him so that He may have access to every area of our life—our spiritual life, our thought life, our emotional life, our recreational life, our working life, our social life and even our ministry life. The more we live by divine grace, the more we need to ask our heavenly Father daily for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The greater our spiritual capacity, the more of the Spirit we need--and the more we need to pray, "Come Holy Spirit!" 

We will never have enough of the Spirit to stop asking for more—unless we are already totally transfigured like Jesus and there is no more trace of the sinful flesh in us. Transfigured believers have become all Spirit and no flesh. As long as we haven't reached that beatified state, we remain in need of asking the heavenly Father for the gift of the Spirit.

Father, thank You for Your amazing goodness. Thank You for Your Spirit who is our unlimited resource and power to fill us with God’s grace for every situation and need. Amen.

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