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Having observed the Savior praying, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. It was then, according to Luke, that Christ Jesus spoke the Lord’s Prayer.
The importance of prayer cannot be emphasized too much, and the first verse of this eleventh chapter supports this when we are told John was a man of prayer. Of all the thoughts they might have had about John, the disciples seem to have first thought of him as a man of prayer.
John was a miracle from the time of his conception. There is no question that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and that he was the man God chose to introduce the Messiah to Israel. Jesus said John was the greatest of prophets, but we know John needed to pray.
The disciples knew Jesus was a Man of prayer. If prayer was important to Jesus and John and his disciples, they wanted to learn the secret of how to pray in the right way.
After giving them the pattern for prayer, Jesus taught them further through a parable. Suppose you have a friend, He said, and you go at midnight to this friend’s home to ask him to lend you three loaves of bread.
An acquaintance has shown up unexpectedly at your home and you have nothing to feed him.
“Don’t bother me,” your friend says. “We are settled in for the night. The children are in bed, and I simply won’t disturb everyone at this late hour.”
“Come on,” you say. “Help me this time.”
“No,” says your friend.
This goes on for a while until finally the man gives in and gives his friend all the bread he needs because, after all, they are friends.
In their world, hospitality was very important. If the man was not hospitable toward his unexpected guest, it was a disgrace to him and his community. To preserve their good name, the sleepy friend supplied the need of the man. God does not answer prayers simply to supply our needs, but to bring glory to His name.
Praying persistently is not about convincing God, nor is it about getting Him to change His mind to suit us. Persistent prayer is really about our spiritual growth. This is taught to us as Jesus says we need to ask, seek and knock. Then, He said, “it shall be opened unto you.”
We must not wait until midnight when an emergency arises, and then run to God. Jesus is saying, “Keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking.” Remember, God is our Father, not a grumpy friend.
“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers” (1 Peter 3: 12).
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. [email protected]
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