Luke 11:9-13

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

April 4, 2001


As was His practice, Jesus had been praying. When He finished His prayer time, His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray as well.

Jesus began by reminding them of the pattern for prayer that He had already taught them, what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”. Some of the things we saw in the Lord’s prayer were reminders to include certain things in our praying:

-         think about who we’re talking to – God Himself
-         treat God as Holy
-         look forward to Jesus’ return
-         submit ourselves and our requests to God’s will
-         ask for our daily needs
-         confess our sins
-         forgive others
-         ask for help with temptation

Then Jesus told the story about the man who showed up on his friend’s doorstep at midnight, pounding at the door and asking to borrow some bread. Jesus had made a point of saying to the disciples that the homeowner would get up and help the friend not because it was his friend, but because the man kept banging on the door with “importunity”, “persistence”, or “shamelessness”.

Shameless persistence

The point was that sometimes when we still aren’t sure whether or not our particular request is God’s will or not, that even though we are coming to God in humility, recognizing that He is our Creator, that we also ought to have a little chutzpah and learn to keep asking until we receive an answer from God.

One example of this is Abraham, who kept praying for God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of his nephew Lot, kind of haggling until Abraham gets God to agree to not destroy Sodom if there were even 10 righteous people left in the city. In the end, this is why God has Lot evacuated from Sodom, so that God doesn’t destroy Sodom until all the righteous have been evacuated.

Another example of “shameless” praying is found in a Gentile woman:

The daughter of a Canaanite woman was being tormented by a demon. The mother came to Jesus for help …

(Mat 15:22-28 KJV) And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. {23} But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. {24} But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. {25} Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. {26} But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs. {27} And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. {28} Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Even though she was told by Jesus’ followers to go away, she kept at it. Even when the Lord gave her a reason why He could not help, she kept asking. In the end, Jesus rewarded her for her faith.

:9-10 Keep Asking

:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

askaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. The verb is a present active imperative – the idea is to ask continually, keep asking.

it shall be given didomi – to give. Future passive indicative – it will definitely happen

seek zeteo – to seek in order to find; to seek i.e. require, demand; to crave, demand something from someone. The verb is also present active imperative – seek continually, keep seeking.

find heurisko – to come upon, hit upon, to meet with; to find out for one’s self, to acquire, get, obtain. Verb is future indicative, it will happen.

knock krouo – to knock: at the door. Verb is present active indicative, keep knocking.

I think the idea of the parable is still going here, the idea of the friend knocking on the door.

it shall be opened anoigo – to open. Future indicative.

I think we need to be a little careful about how we view what seems to be a “progression” from asking to seeking to knocking.

I’ve heard it taught that we start off asking, then we progress to seeking, then we progress to knocking. But keep in mind, Jesus promises here that ALL of these will be answered.

I think what Jesus is talking about is different kinds of prayer for different kinds of things. I think there is a growing intensity from “asking” to “knocking”, but no matter where you are in your praying, God will answer.

There are some times when our praying is more like “asking”, as when we are dealing with our needs like “daily bread”.
There are other times when our prayers take on more of a “seeking”, as when we are looking for direction.
And there are other times when our prayers are like this friend at midnight, when we feel as if we have to keep knocking on the door to get an answer.
One commentary (JFB) put it this way:
“We ask for what we wish; we seek for what we miss; we knock for that from which we feel ourselves shut out.

The point isn’t that you progress from “asking” to “knocking”. The point is that however you are praying, just keep doing it.

Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking.


Don’t stop praying

One of the greatest desires of the enemy is to get you to stop praying.
More than most, he is extremely aware of how powerful your prayers are.
“Why Not Write?!”
I read of a man who was involved in a tragic accident. He lost both legs and his left arm and only a finger and thumb remained on the right hand. There was only enough left of the man that had been, to suffer and remember. But he still possessed a brilliant mind, enriched with a good education and broadened with world travel. At first he thought there was nothing he could do but remain a helpless sufferer. A thought came to him. It was always nice to receive letters, but why not write them - he could still use his right hand with some difficulty. But whom could he write to? Was there anyone shut in and incapacitated like he was who could be encouraged by his letters. He thought of men in prison - they did have some hope of release whereas he had none - but it was worth a try. He wrote to a Christian organization concerned with prison ministry. He was told that his letters could not be answered - it was against prison rules, but he commenced this one sided correspondence. He wrote twice a week and it taxed his strength to the limit. But into those letters he put his whole soul, all his experience, all his faith, all his wit, and all his Christian optimism. It must have been hard writing those letters, often in pain, and particularly when there was no reply. Frequently he felt discouraged and was tempted to give it up. But it was his one remaining activity and he resolved to continue as long as he could. At last he got a letter. It was very short, written on prison stationery by the officer whose duty it was to censor the mail. All it said was: “Please write on the best paper you can afford. Your letters are passed from cell to cell till they literally fall to pieces.” No matter what our personal situation is, we still have God-given gifts and talents, experience, and encouragement that we can share with others.

Submitted by Ron Clark in Tasmania, Australia.

Sometimes our praying is a little like that.  We might have entered into a covenant with God to pray for certain things, and sometimes we don’t always know what it going on because of our prayers.  It can be discouraging and we want to quit.  Don’t quit.  Don’t quit until God says to.

:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

every onepas – individually; each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything


You will get an answer

Sometimes the answer is “yes”. Sometimes the answer is “no”. Sometimes the answer is “wait”. But one way or another, you will get an answer.
This is all still under the context of learning to pray for God’s will to be done.

If I am persistent in asking for the things that God wants, the answer to my prayers will be “yes”.

If I am asking for something God doesn’t want for me, He will let me know my answer is “no”.

If I am asking for the right thing, but God knows that it is not yet the right time, my answer is “wait”.

The Bible says that our prayers are like incense rising before God.

(Rev 8:3-4 KJV)  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. {4} And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

I think this is a great picture.  I think that sometimes our prayers are answered (the bowl being poured out) because the bowl in heaven for that request isn’t filled yet.  I think that perhaps some requests have bigger bowls than others.  Fill up the bowl.

I think it is also very possible that we may not be receiving all that God wants for us because we have stopped asking.
James has told us:

(James 4:2b KJV)  …yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Keep asking.

:11-13 A Good Father

:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

These are very, very silly pictures.

:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father

evilponeros – full of labours, annoyances, hardships; bad, of a bad nature or condition; in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad

All of us human fathers are “evil”. We are sinful.

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

giftsdoma – a gift

how muchposos – how great; how much; how many

moremallon – more, to a greater degree, rather


God is a good Father

We saw this in 1John:
(1 John 1:5 KJV) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
As a good Father, He gives only good gifts.
What if God doesn’t give me the thing I’ve asked for? What if God says “no”?

I have to ask myself, “Could it be that God saying “no” is better than giving me what I’ve asked?”

:13 give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

shall give – future active indicative

that askaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. Present participle – continuous action.

Again, this isn’t the first time that Jesus has taught this to the disciples. The first time was in the Sermon on the Mount, at the beginning of His ministry.

(Mat 7:7-11 KJV) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: {8} For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. {9} Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? {10} Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? {11} If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Now, at the end of His ministry, Jesus elaborates on the “good things” that God will give to those who ask. He tells His disciples that God will give the Holy Spirit.
This is the very best of all gifts.


Ask for the Holy Spirit

The greatest gift is the Holy Spirit being upon you.
It is God’s will for you to have the Holy Spirit’s power.
So ask.
You shouldn’t be afraid of what God is going to do for you when you ask for the Holy Spirit. You don’t need to be afraid of opening up your heart to the Spirit of God.