“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13) NIV
Reading: Luke 11:1-13
By the end of the last century, there was a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit, in the church. People had an urge for an infilling! Preachers talked about witnessing and winning souls for Christ. I fear, we have now lost that emphasis. Everybody is after “goodness,” disguised as material benefits. Even preachers urge people to look only for things of this world! Their favourite passage: “how much more will your Father in heaven give ‘good gifts’ to those who ask him!” (Matthew. 7:11). So they say; your heavenly Father is waiting for you to ask anything… dream anything… big money, big house, big car, great job, beautiful wife, anything in the world…
The unfortunate hearers in the pew pray, fast, worship (to them worship is loud music, shouting ‘Halleluiah,’ jumping up and down, sweating and, falling in ecstasy!), believing that someone outside is waiting with the key of their dream car! Friend, these preachers are deceivers with camouflaged intentions. What Jesus promised in Ch.6 is not your wild dreams, but the necessities in your life… things to eat, drink and wear (Matt.6:31); and what you need fervently to pray for (seek) is only the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt.6:33)! The other things are assuredly provided even in the absence of your repeated and anxious prayers (Matt.6:7-8).
Luke makes it clearer. “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:29-31 NIV). God doesn’t want you to be like pagans.
Moreover, what Matthew refers to as “good gift” is the “Holy Spirit” in Luke. “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (v.13 NIV)!
Our reading for today is about prayer. Seeing Jesus praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Jesus said, God is not distant… He is “Abba- Father.” Prayer is not just a supplication; it is a communication. When we meet our Father, we just pour out our hearts before him. What is in our heart… that is our prayer!
The first half of our prayer should be “kingdom matters.” God’s name, God’s kingdom and God’s will (v.2). Only then, we think about our daily bread (v.3)! The rest of the prayer is for purity of character and, power for not failing in our kingdom mission (v.4)!
Of course, I can pray for my “daily bread.” It is not just bread, I know. “Daily bread” means my daily needs. It is a “need!” There is a limit to my physical needs. I can ask for a house to stay, but not for 10 houses at a time. I may ask for a computer, if it is a necessity… However, think that I pray: “Lord! Give me 25 laptops, and 15 e-readers… Now…”
You cannot ask for more than your needs… However, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, you can ask without measure! “For it is not by measure that He gives the Spirit” (John.3:34.RSV)
Jesus says, “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit (‘good gifts’ in Matthew) to those who ask him” (v.13)!
When we realise that the real ‘good gift’ is the Holy Spirit, we will stop asking for material riches, repeatedly and, start seeking the Holy Spirit, persistently!
Jesus, in a parable, explains how persistent we need to be in seeking the Holy Spirit. The man “shamelessly” (v.8) kept knocking the door of his neighbour at midnight. Although he asked only for three loaves of bread (v.5), his friend gave him as much as he needed (v.9)!
Don’t think God is reluctant to give the Holy Spirit, like that neighbour in the story. It is a “paradoxical tale” rather than a parable. Here, Jesus says that if a friend is ready to give what you need when persuaded persistently, how much more will your heavenly Father!
Now Jesus talks of the higher grade of relationship you have with God! God is more than your friend. He is our Heavenly Father (v.2). A friend may give what you ask; but a father gives what is best for his child!
“…If your son asks for a fish, will you give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion?”(Vv.11-12) You give your children only what is good for them.
Now, let me ask you. If your son asks you for a snake, will you give him a snake? If he asks for a scorpion, will you give him one?
One day, my brother in law saw his three-year-old son looking seriously to a hole on the ground. “A snake has gone in to it… when it comes back I would like to catch it…,” he said. Do you think that the father would say, “Oh! Son, I didn’t know you liked snakes so much… don’t worry. Dad will get a beautiful one for you…” No! A father will never give a snake to his child, even if the child asks for one in his ignorance.
Thank God for not answering all our prayers. Many things we asked in the past were snakes and scorpions. Had God given everything we asked for in the past, what a perilous situation would it have been… We made many a supplications in our ignorance, but God denied it in His wisdom! Even when I asked for scorpions and snakes, God was merciful to me and He gave me His spirit! I know it because, it is His Spirit that made me even realise what I was asking for was just scorpion!
In my journey to my eternal home, I need the Holy Spirit the most! That is the best gift! Let us ask for it… “For it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit”
Prayer:Lord, I understand that the real good gift is the Holy Spirit… I believe that you will pour out the Holy Spirit without measure to those who are seeking. Help me to empty myself so that I can be filled with Thy Spirit… Amen!
Further reading: Ezekiel.26: 24-28; Ephesians.1:11-14.