Hi this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Dad…Dad…Dad…Dad…
When my children were little they would engage in several activities designed to get my attention. Sometimes they would leave the floor where they were playing and get up on the couch or into the chair I was occupying and ask if they could ask me a question. Though that particular approach was charming, I would usually tease them by telling them they could, except that they had used up their question by asking if they could ask a question. That little exercise almost always ended with a grin on my face and a grimace on theirs as they got the joke but insisted with a “Come on dad!”
Another tactic they were adept at using was intended to break through some interaction I might be having with another adult. It didn’t matter if it was uptown at a store or at church, if they felt they needed my attention and I wasn’t giving to them fast enough, they would resort to this time-tested technique. I’m not sure how so many kids around the globe arrived at using this same approach but I have seen it executed by countless children…so they must have had a meeting or something. Anyway, when children want their parent’s undivided attention and aren’t obtaining it by other measures, most – if not all of them will begin tugging on their parent’s pant leg and incessantly addressing them. Mine would stand there and say “Dad…dad…dad…dad…ad-nauseum. I am sure if you have observed any parent with a small child for any amount of time at all…you have witnessed this event too. I once heard a mother say that she could feel the tug on the pant-leg, and see her child’s mouth moving, but had learned to tune the voice out. Yes, I am quite certain there had to have been a meeting. Actually, it is this simple, even a child understands the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Jesus once spoke about this same concept. In Luke chapter 11 it is recorded that Jesus was asked by one of His disciples to teach them how to pray. Apparently according to the scriptures Jesus had just finished praying when He was approached with this request. The disciple who asked, mentioned that John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray and Jesus’ disciples wanted to know how to as well. So, Jesus said when you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
After Jesus taught them how to pray, He told them the parable that is found in Luke 11:5-8
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread];for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.”
Jesus was essentially telling them that they should do what my children used to do to me, and to my great amusement…what their children still do to them to this day. Jesus was explaining an incredible truth to the disciples that is equally important for us to recognize today. He was using a word picture that they would have had a united understanding of. He knew that if He told them a seemingly ridiculous story it would illustrate an important truth in a way they would not soon forget. I like to use that same strategy sometimes in my counseling room. After Jesus set up the somewhat preposterous story, He revealed the greater truth.
Verses 9-10 continue: “So I say to 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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
What is this great truth Jesus imparted to His disciples that day? As I said a moment ago, the story Jesus told was a bit tongue-in-cheek. In other words He was not describing the sleepy homeowner as God and therefore illustrating Him to be impatient or frustrated by our requests…much the opposite. He was not saying that God doesn’t want to listen to us or give us what we need unless we tire Him out with our Dad…Dad…Dad…Dad. In fact, in just a moment we will see that Jesus described God as just the opposite of those things. The point Jesus was making about our Heavenly Father here was in contrast to the sleepy neighbor. Jesus was saying that our prayers should be continual to illustrate that our relationship with God is continual. I believe that the illustration was progressive; ask, seek and knock, and the responses from God likewise, I will answer you, you will find me and My door will be opened to you… because God desires that our relationship with Him will be progressive. He wants the relationship with us to grow deeper and deeper each day.
Jesus then reverted to the ridiculous once again to illustrate a greater truth in a way we would not soon forget. Verses 11-12 continue: “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” What was Jesus insinuating? He was pointing out that if our children have need of something we do not give them a useless substitution. If they need bread, we don’t try to deceive them and give them a round smooth stone that only looks like bread. If they ask for something harmless to eat like a fish, we don’t instead give them a snake that could kill them. He was also pointing out that if our children were to ask for something as benign as an egg to eat we would not give them something that would cause terrible pain like a scorpion might. Each of the father’s responses eluded to in the outrageous scenarios Jesus described would have only been possible with an evil intent toward innocent children.
Finally, in verse 13 Jesus concluded His lesson about prayer with this: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” As I said a moment ago, the responses of the fictitious fathers in Jesus outlandish illustration would have had to have been evil and wicked, so his final statement of the lesson began in the same place. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children… Jesus was again pointing out a contrast. We are profoundly fallen beings, living in a profoundly fallen world, and we sometimes do profoundly fallen things. If human beings in their wicked state of sinfulness know how to give their children what they ask for…If when they seek us we are found by them…If when they knock on our door we open up the house and offer them all that we have…”How much more”, Jesus insisted, “will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
For even greater understanding we have to recognize a veritable typo in our translations from the original Greek. The recorded words Jesus used would translate directly “…How much more will your Heavenly Father give Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” In the original text the the (referring to the Holy Spirit) is not there. What’s the big deal? The difference is far more than whether it makes a good English sentence or not. In fact that is precisely why the the is included in the English text…simply to make a pleasing sounding sentence. When you omit it, as does the original text, it means God will give the working of the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Both Romans chapter 8 and Ephesians chapter1 are clear enough that we receive the person of the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. What it seems Jesus is saying here is that if we are going to have all we need to live the victorious life He desires us to experience, we need to ask our Heavenly Father for the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and keep on asking. Through that working power, our lives will be gifted by him and filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) With the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we will have every spiritual good thing we need.
So now. Every day, ask God for the work of the Holy Spirit to be evident in your life, Don’t worry…He never tires of us tugging on Him and calling out Abba…Abba…Abba…Abba…and Go Be Awesome!