1 Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
3 Give us the bread we need for today.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation.’”
5 He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness. 9 And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.
11 “Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? 12 If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? 13 If you 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?”
Clearly the disciples believed that something they admired in Jesus came from his praying. They wanted to learn from him—they wanted to be more like him. In verses 9 and 10, Jesus did not mean that if we ask God for a solid gold Tesla full of thousand-dollar bills, God must give it to us. But he did mean that God will give “good gifts” (by God’s definition, not ours!) when we ask. Verse 13 offered the ultimate good gift: God will always give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.
- Sadly, some earthly parents either neglect their children’s needs, or actively give them things that are bad for them. Jesus used the common “How much more…” rhetorical device in verse 13 to distinguish God’s infinite love and generosity from our human frailty. In what ways did (or does) your earthly family reveal God’s qualities? In what ways, if any, do you need God to be “more” for you than they were able to be?
- Consider taking with you today a simple breath prayer that Jesus promised God will always answer. As you draw in breath, silently start the invitation: “Come to me…” As you exhale, finish the prayer: “Holy Spirit.” Repeat at any point in the day where you need to. At day’s end, review in what way(s), if any, the prayer deepened your connection with God.
Dear God, thank you for inviting me into the ongoing conversation with you that we call “prayer.” Help me never be too busy, or too shy, to bring you big or little concerns that are on my mind. Amen.
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Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.