In this article we continue in our series on the Gospel of Luke by taking a look at Luke 11:5-13. Following up on our study of the Lord's Prayer, we started to see last week how Jesus isn't done with prayer. He has given an outline, a pattern of prayer to His disciples to pray in response to their request, "Lord, teach us to pray," but now He wants to urge them as to the importance of prayer.

And the first thing we learned last week is that Jesus wants us to learn to beg in prayer. Now, we turn to our second two items that Jesus teaches us in this passage.

II. Jesus Wants Us To Be Persistent

The second thing that Jesus says in this passage is to be persistent. He says this in a bunch of different ways. One of the ways He says it is in the story when the friend is appealing and the other friend says, "Go away!" does he stop? No, he just keeps on. Another way He says this, if you'll look at v. 9 though, is in the verbs that He uses - Ask, seek, knock. These are imperatives, but they also have a certain progression to them. Don't just ask; seek. And don't just seek; knock. There's an on-going force and a progression to these verbs and it implies a persistence, a continuation of the activity of asking. Jesus is saying, "Be regular, be continual, be constant in your prayer."

Why? One answer is simply that prayer is the root of vital, living, practical Christianity. It is the root of our experience of the presence of God, of the promises of God, of the power of God. It is so necessary that Matthew Henry says this provocative sentence: "Those who live without prayer live without God in this world." If you're His child, if you've trusted in Jesus Christ, if you know Him as God and Savior, the way you experience His on-going assurance of you, presence with you, promises to you, power for you, is in prayer, so that if you do not pray, you do not experience that. No wonder Jesus says be persistent, be regular, be continual, be constant, because prayer is the means of communion with the living God.

III. Jesus Wants Us To Expect That God Will Answer Our Prayers

Jesus also says something that is just mind-blowing: He tells us to expect God to always answer our prayers.

Jesus, in this passage emphasizes that if you ask, you will receive. If you seek, you may find? You will find. If you knock, the door might possibly, maybe, one day, might could be opened to you? No, it will be opened to you. Jesus, throughout this passage, says if you pray, He will answer. If you ask, you will receive. If you seek, you will find. If you knock, the door will be opened.

Jesus tells you not only to be importunate, to beg, to plead, to appeal in prayer, He tells you not only to be persistent, that is to be regular, to be continual, to be constant in prayer, He tells you to expect God to answer your prayers and to know that none of your prayers will be unanswered.

Now here's the trick - not as you pray them, but according to the Father's goodness He answers all your prayer. That's the basis of the story. Look at the story in vv. 11-12. "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?"

Here's the story. The little kid says, "Daddy, I want a fish." He doesn't give him a snake that will bite him and hurt him. A father doesn't give bad gifts to his children. He loves his children.

And you know this illustration works the other way around too. You notice if a child asks his father for a serpent the father doesn't give him something that's going to hurt him because the father's gifts are good. So Jesus is saying God's answers are always good, even when you can't see it. He is always answering your prayers, "Yes," but for your good. I love the way that John Calvin says this - "God does not answer our prayers as we pray them, but as we would pray them if we were wiser."

Looking again at v.13: "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!" Now, Luke constantly talks about the Holy Spirit and he's already talked about the Holy Spirit in Luke 1, as the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham. In Acts 2, Luke will talk about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a fulfillment of God's promises through Jesus in Acts 1, but also as Paul elaborates in Galatians 3, the coming of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. So when Luke tells us that whenever we pray God will give us the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, he is saying that whenever we pray God always honors His promise to Abraham, and that promise entails the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we are blessed, we are protected, that we experience God's grace and peace and communion with Him.

So that when there is a believer crying out, "Lord, I want to marry him. Lord, I want to marry her." And the Lord is thinking, "Child, you have no idea what you're asking for and I'm not going to answer that prayer the way that you want Me to answer that prayer, but here's My answer, child, you will have the Holy Spirit. You will be blessed. You will be kept. You will be given grace. You will be given peace. You will be given communion. And I'll give you something better than what you're asking for."

Or you may be praying, "Lord, could I just get along with my wife? Could we just have peace here and just sort of like one another?" And the answer, it may be, "Child, I'm going to give you something better than you're asking for."

You know, it may just be something as simple as, "Lord, I'd like to pay the mortgage next month. I'd just like to pay the mortgage. Could we do that?" And again the answer may be, "Child yes, I'm going to give you something better than that."

The answer is always "yes" -- it's just not always the "yes" that we were wanting. It's the "yes" that we need but the answer is always "yes." This is what Jesus is wanting you to see. Be expectant. God is going to answer this prayer. He's going to answer it as if you would have prayed it knowing what He knows and being as good as He is. He is going to answer that prayer.

Now, why in the world would Jesus say this? Because He knows that you pray and you stop, and sometimes you stop because you don't think it's working, because you're not getting what you've prayed for, because it's not turning out like you'd expected or hoped. And Jesus is saying, "Don't stop praying, and if you have, start again because blessed is he and she who starts to pray over and over and over again."