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Call To Worship March 25 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 11:5-13

“In these verses, our Lord Jesus Christ instructs us about prayer. The subject is one which can never be too strongly pressed on our attention. Prayer lies at the very root of our practical Christianity. It is part of the daily business of our Christian life. We have reason to thank God, that upon no point has our Lord Jesus Christ spoken so fully and frequently, as upon prayer.

We learn for one thing, from these verses — the importance of perseverance in prayer. This lesson is conveyed to us in the simple parable, commonly called the ‘Friend at Midnight.’…The application of the parable is clear and plain. If importunity succeeds so well, between man and man — then how much more may we expect it to obtain mercies, when used in prayer to God….The lesson is one which we shall do well to remember. It is far more easy to begin a habit of prayer, than to keep it up.

The secret thought comes stealing over men’s minds, that ‘it is no use to pray.’ They see no visible benefit from it. They persuade themselves that they get on just as well without prayer. Laziness and unbelief prevail over their hearts, and at last they altogether ‘diminish prayer before God.’ (Job 15:4.)

Let us resist this feeling, whenever we feel it rising within us. Let us resolve by God’s grace, that however poor and feeble our prayers may seem to be — we will pray on. It is for a very good reason that the Bible tells us so frequently — to ‘watch unto prayer,’ to ‘pray without ceasing,’ to ‘continue in prayer,’ to ‘pray always, and not to faint,’ to be ‘constant in prayer.’ These expressions all look one way. They are all meant to remind us of a danger, and to quicken us to a duty.

The time and way in which our prayers shall be answered, are matters which we must leave entirely to God. But we need not doubt that every petition which we offer in faith, shall certainly be answered. Let us lay our matters before God again and again, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. The answer may be long in coming, as it was in the cases of Hannah and Zachariah. (1 Samuel 1:27; Luke 1:13.) But though it tarries, let us pray on and wait for it. At the right time, it will surely come and not tarry.

We learn, for another thing, from these verses — how wide and encouraging are the promises which the Lord Jesus holds out to prayer. The striking words in which they are clothed are familiar to us if any are in the Bible, ‘Ask — and you shall receive; seek — and you shall find; knock — and it shall be opened unto you.’ The solemn declaration which follows, appears intended to make assurance doubly sure, ‘Everyone who asks — receives, and he who seeks — finds, and to him who knocks — it shall be opened.’ The heart-searching argument which concludes the passage, leaves faithlessness and unbelief without excuse, ‘If you being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children — then how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’

There are few promises in the Bible so broad and unqualified as those contained in this wonderful passage. The last in particular, deserves special notice. The Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man. Having this gift, we have all things — life, truth, hope and Heaven. Having this gift — we have God the Father’s boundless love, God the Son’s atoning blood, and full communion with all three Persons of the blessed Trinity. Having this gift — we have grace and peace in the present world — and glory and honor in the world to come. And yet this mighty gift is held out by our Lord Jesus Christ, as a gift to be obtained by prayer! ‘Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’”

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