February 14 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 11)

Submitted by Ernestine L. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

This passage teaches on how to approach God in prayer and in conversation. As these disciples ask Jesus how to pray, it is interesting to note that the first line of the Lord’s Prayer is “Father, hallowed be your name.” To be hallowed means to be made or set apart as holy; to be respected or honored greatly. Jesus tells the disciples that this ought to be the way they start their prayer. He does not tell the disciples to start off by listing off all their worries and concerns or even to confess their sins, and to ask of God to answer their prayer. However, the most initial thing is to name our God who He truly is – hallowed be His Name. For our God to be a holy God and to be revered means that prayer cannot be given unto Him without care. The fact that we can have this God to call upon is because He created each one of us, He gave us life and meaning. The disciples are where they are because they were mercifully and graciously given that privilege, honor and dignity now to follow after Jesus and call upon their mighty God in answer to prayer in times of need and desperation.

Secondly in the first part of v2 is the fact that we call upon our God as Father. A father brings comfort, safety, protection, unconditional love. A father is reliable, solidly grounded, and yet wants to share so deeply his heart with his children, with openness that allows us to approach him in an unguarded manner. In essence, Jesus does not tell his disciples to approach prayer and to approach God as just a prayer-answering machine to whom they could merely dispense prayer requests and as a result receive answers.

Jesus goes on to teach them what to ask for in prayer – “Give us each day our daily bread.” This, in essence, is calling upon a trust in the Lord to provide for them. This is telling God that they ought not to rely upon themselves and when they let go of the things that keep them tied to this world, that as they come forward and call upon their God, their God would provide daily.

Lastly in the Lord’s Prayer, all sins are laid forth. Jesus tells his disciples to ask God to forgive them their sins. This is important because sin is the reality of who we are. When we do not come to God clearly confessing our sins, we do not come to God in honest relationship. It is because we sin that we need God so desperately. And it is because God offers a forgiveness, a mercy, and a redemption found in nothing else in this world. It is because when we come to Him in this kind of desperate prayer that we receive freedom and release from our sins. And as we experience forgiveness, we are able to continue to love and share with others this forgiveness.

Jesus, goes on to tell this parable about the man who asks a friend for three loaves of bread. The friend does not answer his request based on their friendship, but because of his boldness. And it is because of this man’s boldness that he ends up receiving whatever he needs. He asks, therefore he receives. In the same way, we are to ask God for our needs. We are to place in Him this kind of trust, this great level of reliance. When we do not do this and instead rely upon ourselves or our own efforts, we default to lessening our faith and trust in God. We instead set aside our relationship with God and think we can handle it or that we can foolishly find these three loaves of bread somehow. But when we finally come to God and ask Him, God’s response is not a meager one – He responds with more than enough, He responds with wealth and abundance beyond anything we can imagine.

When I examine my own prayers, oftentimes I have to remind myself that there is a person, a holy God, to whom I am praying to. One to whom I cannot simply dump mindless prayers toward. In my prayer, I must utter words with sincerity and with great awe that the God of all the Heaven should listen to my cry. I glean from Jesus’ teaching here that prayer often begins with acknowledging my holy God, that He who offers me life and so many chances to come to Him does not deserve hollow or shallow prayer. I ought to go to Him with an honest and trusting heart. When I come to God in prayer, in essence I am releasing my grasp and control over my life and how I want things to pan out. In essence, I am deepening my relationship with Him every time I go to Him asking for help.

Submitted by Brian W. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Luke 11:1-4

• Pray this prayer slowly, reflecting on each phrase.

“ ‘Father,

• How does addressing God as “father” change my view about prayer and how I relate to God?

Father, You are the one who know and cares about every thought.  You consider all my deeds and know the times when I’ve succumbed to my pride, the times I struggle with temptations, and You even with all that knowledge, You care like a father would his son to really consider what is my greatest need.  It’s not fame, fortune, or recognition; it’s not even just the simple provisions of life, though You do provide that as well, but it’s the answer to my biggest problem which is sin and death.  And a father looking after his son, knowing that it’s not candy he needs, but food full of nutrients and energy… not wanting his kid to grow up to be a hooligan, he wants his kid to be educated to be a man of respect and honor, he’s going to teach him the right way to live.  And Father this is what I know You want for me, in the end: the best life, though it’s going to involve love that seems intolerable, but that is what a good dad does for his kid to help him grow.

Understanding God as a Father reveals that I’m not just relating to an emotionless, yet all-powerful deity, that I’m not relating to a genie or a distant grandfather at best.  Rather it puts character behind the face of God, that He is actually someone who cares – a perfect Father who is always waiting for his children to return, the same kind of Father who stands at home like in Luke 15 waiting for his prodigal sons to return.  He’s a Father who will provide and want the best for his children.  But also it’s not a Father who spoils His kids, but one who wants his children to mature in their character.  In that light, praying to God isn’t something just done casually – how would dad feel if I just went up to him and said “Hey, could I get this, this, this, and that?” No, rather it’s someone you’d might ask for wisdom or advice, and if you did need something He would probably know whether or not what you ask for is something good or not.  In short prayer to God isn’t something done mechanically because we ought, but a recognition that there is a relationship there, as God is the Father and I am his child.

hallowed be your name, 

You aren’t just another thing to be simply placed in my life, but to be set apart from everything else.  The space you occupy in my life doesn’t tack on to my career, my family, my ego, but it is placed above all that.  And because of that You ought to rule in my life over all these things.  I’m not to take the fact that I call you God, Lord over my life as something lightly – but this is the reality of calling You God means everything I have is Yours: my career, my marriage, my future, even something as obvious as ministry that too is Yours.

[…]

Give us each day our daily bread. 

You provide for our every need, just from the basics of food and shelter, and even richly blessing me with all the relationships that I enjoy, truly You provided me with much, much more than most of the rest of the world would ever enjoy.  And that is what I want to be reminded of, that I have been given more than just my daily bread, but nourishment physically, emotionally, and spiritually in abundance – and with these resources I ought to go out and love and provide too for those who don’t have so much.

Forgive us our sins, 

Most importantly than just provided for earthly provisions, you’ve provided the eternal provision to save me from all my deceitful desires; that even though I’ve made very poor choices in the past, that more than just wound you, but during those times, when I opted to choose my own path, thinking “Oh it’s only a little fun,” or “hey that’s how the world operates, it’s selfish and I have to look after myself,” those times when I forsake the relationships you’ve given me because I wanted to pursue my own life, You though hurt by my actions, still gave me another chance when I came to my senses.

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

• What is the significance of forgiving others as we ask for forgiveness?

And in the same way let me be able to show that same kind of grace to other people.  Just thinking about the heroes of faith of in our contemporary time, who forgave so much more.  Elisabeth Elliot through being able to forgive the Auca people for her husband’s death saved a whole tribe.  Corrie Ten Boom able to forgive her Nazi captor found healing for his man and herself.  Christ who pleaded to God while on the cross “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” gave me and the rest of the world a fighting chance against sin.  That I too, could live this kind of life – that even in the smallest things to be able to forgive someone even if forget about it, distance themselves from me, to the harshest of critics out there against ministry I am involved in help me to forgive so that I can imitate this kind of life.

And lead us not into temptation.’ ” 

• “And lead us not into temptation”: “This should not be interpreted that God will lead us into temptation (James 1:13-15)…[rather] God has a power to protect us and keep us from succumbing to temptation.”   What does this prayer regarding temptation show about the proper posture Jesus wants his disciples to have toward sin?

As I recognize how entrenched sin is in my life, protect me from all the things that the world throws at me.  As I minister to people against their lusts, protect me too from the overly-sexualized media this world is trying to get us all to consume.  As the desire to settle becomes greater with age, protect me – giving me a constant reminder that this world is not my home, it’s only a temporary place that I reside, and help me throw off that much quicker any notion that there is any kind of other life to live besides the one of saving souls and delivering others that in the same way I’ve been delivered.  I know that You will be faithful to protect me giving me the church and it’s people, for “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Luke 11:5-10

• What is the main point of the parable of the friend seeking bread at midnight and what lesson does it teach about prayer?

How often in the world that we live in we experience this: a world of limited resources, people don’t have anything to spare, you ask a friend for help, they might not have enough time, you ask him to spot you, and they hesitate…  But God knowing that this is the world we live in reminds us that He isn’t like this at all, that God isn’t stingy God though sometimes it may feel like prayers aren’t being answered, but that in prayers there’s a need to be persistent and “he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”  There’s a reality to prayer that we can’t quite understand, a lot of times we can ask, how come I’ve been unemployed for long, or how come the people I care about will never listen to me and what I have to say about the Gospel, it’d be almost easier to throw our hands in the air and say forget about it.  But there is something about persevering in prayer that is special, praying for that loved one for year hoping that they would become Christian and when that day comes and when you see the journey that God has taken and how faithful God has been, it’s a joyful experience more so if it was merely handed to us.  And I’ve experienced these joys of burdening in prayer and finding God proving himself to be faithful at the other side, seeing my brother becoming Christian and just the amazing story.  Praying for provisions of job for not only myself but others and just seeing the kind of journey God provided all of us – and if everything just came to us, there would be no conviction on our end, no need for boldness and the degrees of joy I’d experience and the growth through it wouldn’t have been as much: like a father who does not want to spoil their kid, God will prove Himself faithful in the end, but do more than just answer our prayer along the way, but give us so much more.

Submitted by Jammy Y. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

  • How does addressing God as “father” change my view about prayer and how I relate to God?

Addressing God as my father changes my view about prayer and how I relate to God because then God’s not a distant figure that I’m unable to relate to, but rather someone like a father.  Coming to God in prayer as a father there’s already a pre-established relationship and I don’t have to have any pre-tense or concern about how I approach God.   It’s like when Ellie comes to me and asks me for milk in the morning.  Even though I’m still sleeping and not quite awake yet, she doesn’t necessarily get scared if daddy is asleep or not, her attitude is I’m just going to ask.  She can do that because she knows that I’m her daddy and that’s all she really needs to know and understand.  That’s the basis of her asking me; it’s because I’m her father.    Likewise I can come to God in the same manner.  He is my heavenly Father, and I can have that confidence that He will listen.  I don’t have to fear because the relationship between God and me is that He is my Father, which means that I am loved unconditionally.

[…] 

Luke 11:11-13 

  • How does one receive the Holy Spirit from God? 

One receives the Holy Spirit from God through asking.

  • Why is giving of the Holy Spirit by God compared to parents giving good gifts to their children? 

Giving of the Holy Spirit by God is compared to parents to giving good gifts to their children because this is how much God desires to bestow this gift upon us.  What parent wouldn’t want to give their kids good things?  This is the same attitude that God has and wished that we would all be like these kids that just ask.  God wants to bless us and He wants to give us His Holy Spirit.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                           

Please write out a prayer of commitment or confession either based on today’s text or upon reflection over recent events in your life.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me how to pray and that in my prayer I can approach you like a Father.  Help me to embrace this fact daily and dispel any notion that I have to somehow earn my prayers.  Those are times when Satan lies to me, when he deceives me; please help me to be on guard against these kinds of lies.  Help me to recognize also Lord, that you are a Holy God and that when I’m praying, I’m not just praying to my Father in Heaven, but also the Holy and most Sacred one.  Help me to know that you here and that in the most difficult of prayers that your Kingdom is here, that your rule is here.  That is the greatest news and so I pray O’ Lord that indeed I can begin to ask, seek and knock.  Thank you for your eagerness to bestow your Holy Spirit upon me and for allowing me to come and relate to you like a Father.

Submitted by Allen C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER

  • Who to pray to

In teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus addresses God as “Father.” And so in our prayers, we are approach God as if though he is our “Father.” God is not some distant deity who has no interest in his lowly creation. The fact that Jesus teaches his disciples to address God as “Father” reveals his view that God is intimately interested in them. In verses 11-13, Jesus describes our heavenly father as more gracious and good than even earthly fathers, who, though evil, know how to give good gifts to their children. How much greater is God, our Father in heaven? He is much more willing (and able) to give good gifts to His children. This paints a picture of God as one who wants to bless, who wants to provide, who wants to respond to his children’s needs, and who is very interested in what his children are concerned about and ask for. Just as Steve responds to Elijah and Micah and Jammy responds to Ellie, God is this responsive to our prayers. I imagine that these fathers are delighted when their children come to them with a need. They want to give the best to their children, and even when they say “no” to a request, it’s not because they’re being punitive or cold, but it’s out of love.

This corrects the view I often have of God when I pray. God does hear my prayers. God is interested in what’s going on in my life. God does take my words seriously. God is delighted when I pray to Him.

Another aspect about our Father in heaven comes in the next line: “Hallowed be your name.” God’s name is to be respected, revered, and honored. God is holy, set apart, different. God is not like a genie that answers to our desires, as if we have a claim over Him.

  • What to pray for

Jesus instructs his disciples to pray for a few things: “your kingdom come,” “our daily bread,” forgiveness of sins, and not to be lead into temptation. This implies that God’s will is not being done on the earth, and we are to pray for that to happen. We are to pray that this world that is hostile to God’s authority will bend its knee to Him. We are to pray for stubborn and rebellious hearts to hear the truth, repent, and respond to God’s gracious offer of forgiveness and amnesty. We are to pray for God to heal all of the brokenness we see in the world, brokenness due to our sins, to disease, to natural disasters, to evil and the spiritual battle raging all around us. We are to pray and long for the day when everything is made right again, when there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

We are also to pray for our daily bread, which is our daily sustenance. This is a posture of dependence on God, just as children are dependent on their parents. We are in need of God’s provision not only in terms of basic food, clothing, and shelter, but also for our other needs, including relational, emotional, and spiritual needs. We need wisdom, courage, strength, and love that is found not in frail bodies and weak wills, but in God our provider who strengthens us to do His work and comforts us in our times of need.

We are also to pray for the forgiveness of sins, both for ourselves and for others who sin against us. We are to come humbly to God, acknowledging our sins, our choice to reject God and play king over our lives. And how sinful and unclean we are! On any given day, I just have to look back and see the stains on my heart caused by my pride, lust, envy, greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, and deceit, among other things. “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” (Mark 7:21-22). Oh how my heart needs to be cleansed daily! And how can God forgive me if I am not willing to forgive others? When I recognize the depth of my sin, I realize that I do not deserve to be forgiven. But if God is willing to wash away all of my unrighteousness, how can I not show the same mercy toward those who sin against me?

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