The Essence of Prayer XXII – Luke 11:5-13 Persistent Prayer

In Luke 11:1-13 the Lord Jesus is teaching on prayer.  In Luke 11:1-4 He gives the pieces of prayer.  In Luke 11:5-13 He teaches persistent prayer and He uses everyday stories to emphasize this teaching.

In Luke 11: 5-8 He teaches the value of persistent prayer through the story of a man coming to his neighbor’s house in the middle of the night to borrow bread.  His neighbor will not get out of bed simply because he is a friend.  It takes the persistent knocking of the one who is in need for the neighbor to get up and give the bread.

In Luke 11:9, 10 He exhorts to persistent prayer by giving encouragement that all such prayer will be answered.  The believer does not know what timetable God will take in answering prayer – 10 minutes or 10 years – but he can be encouraged that God will answer prayer.  Persistent prayer involves fervency and faith.  When the believer has not received a quick answer, he often forgets to keep praying.  The one seeking bread kept knocking, probably louder and louder.  The believer must keep praying for those things that have not yet been received.

In Luke 11:5-13 using the analogy of the one who is knocking at the door, the Lord Jesus gives amazing encouragement to persistent prayer.  The Lord Jesus gives promises of answers for persistent prayer and there are no qualifications.  There is a breadth of opportunity that the Lord Jesus is giving for prayer.  The one who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, the one who knocks will have it opened according to God’s purpose.

Sometimes the believer asks for things that are not good for him.  The Lord always gives good gifts.  Psalm 84:11  “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  Sometimes what the Lord gives is different from what the believer has asked for but it is always better.  And the best gift is the Holy Spirit who enables prayer and gives sight of God’s gifts as best.

The believer has a tendency to pray sporadically. We need to listen to the Lord Jesus when He encourages us to persistent prayer.

The Essence of Prayer XX – Luke 11: Jesus Teaches His Own to Pray

We have been looking at the prayers of the Lord Jesus and at His examples of prayer.  He also taught on prayer, Luke 11:1-4.  It’s significant that this teaching came as the Lord was praying as Luke records it, which caused the disciples to want to pray as He did.  Prayer is not perhaps an easy thing to learn to do in an effective manner.  So the Lord undertakes to teach His own how to pray.

It’s often the case that we struggle to pray and are perhaps unhappy with our prayer lives.  Prayer is a strictly spiritual enterprise.  It doesn’t matter if you’re smart or dumb, rich or poor, young or old – those are all insignificant in coming to God in prayer.  The believer comes to God only through the Lord Jesus Christ and from that relationship comes prayer.  Romans 8:15, the believer cries out to God from the Holy Spirit living within.  These two factors must be in evidence for there to be prayer.

The impediments to prayer are huge – the world crowds in on us, the devil seeks to distract us.  Thus the Lord Jesus commands that we pray against temptation.

The content of what is called the Lord’s Prayer further teaches:

  1. We are coming to the person of God Himself as our Father. This ought to bring us to the end of ourselves, into a place of humility.  Reverence is a basic component to prayer.  The fact that we are brought by Christ and enabled by the Holy Spirit keeps us going on.  The believer cannot call God Father without real faith and real trust as a child.
  2. Prayer is not just a list of requests, but thanksgiving for the relationship. The God who supplies the believer’s needs on a daily basis, the God of the universe, must be approached with praise and thanksgiving.
  3. It is only His will that will be accomplished in this world and the believer comes to Him in willingness to do that will.


Most of all we must come to the Lord as the disciples did and ask Him to teach us to pray.  This is a prayer that He will answer readily.

The Essence of Prayer XIX – Christ’s Prayers: Extended Prayer

As we continue observing the prayers of the Lord Jesus, we see that He not only prayed extensively, He also prayed intensively.  And He also prayed for extended times.  This is not often engaged in by believers and it can be daunting.  Luther is known to have stated that he had so much to do that he needed to spend the first three hours prayer.

  1. This can’t be done on five minutes’ notice but takes some planning. Luke 6:12 shows that the Lord Jesus clearly set aside a time to pray.  In Matthew 6:6 the Lord commands that we should draw aside in a solitary place for prayer.  In Mark 6:45, 46 the Lord sent the disciples and the multitudes away so that He could have a solitary place and time to pray.
  2. If there is to be extended prayer, there cannot be just a quick coming to the Lord with requests. The believer must come into God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise.  The prayers of the Lord Jesus begin this way, Matthew 11:25; John 11:41.
  3. It is necessary to engage faith. Coming into God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise is the beginning of engaging by faith.  Just wishing for things in God’s presence does not engage faith.  All that God is to the believer in Christ must be laid hold on.  The believer brings God’s promises to Him.  The believer must see that he is in the world to make a difference by prayer.  This engages faith.
  4. There needs to be fellowship which is blessed, I John 1:3.  It is explicitly enjoyed in the place of prayer and it is to be sought.
  5. The believer must be in earnest, Hebrews 5:7. It is as Jacob wrestling with God.  It is as the Lord Jesus sweating great drops of blood.  This must be the work of the believer in prayer.

The Essence of Prayer XVIII – Thanksgiving in Prayer, Luke 22:17, 19

In previous weeks we have seen the humbleness of the Lord Jesus in coming to the Father in prayer.  In Matthew 18:3 the Lord Jesus declares that we must become like little children.  What we see of Christ in prayer is that He is that little child before His Father, with humility and implicit trust.  We see that this is the place from which we must come to the Father.  At Lazarus’ death we see the Lord Jesus pray in childlike trust and utter confidence in the Father, Luke 11:42.  This happens in the last days of His ministry when He is being pursued by the religious leaders of the day.  His confidence is not based on the events around Him, because they were not going well, but in God His Father.

In Luke 22:17, 19 we see the Lord Jesus giving thanks during what is called the Last Supper.  This is significant and consistent with His practice of giving thanks before He ate.  In John 6:11 He gave thanks before breaking the bread to feed the five thousand.  He was ready to give thanks at all times.

In Acts 14:15-17 Paul brings to mind all the things God has given to those on earth.  The believer has an ability to give thanks to God, acknowledging His goodness and control over all things.  The unbeliever looks to immediate causes, not the hand of God.  I Timothy 4:4, 5 declares that all things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.  The believer’s prayer of thanksgiving acknowledges God as the giver of all things.

In Luke 22:14, 15 the Lord Jesus was in the midst of great difficulty prior to the last meal He partook of with the disciples, yet He could give thanks.  We need to receive difficulty from God’s hand in the same way, as a little child, with thanksgiving for God’s complete control and goodness.

What makes this valuable?  For the believer it is the fact that God is giving all things as the Father.  It is the stance of the believer as receiving all things from God’s hand as a little child from His Father, in complete trust.

In the midst of difficulty it is easy to point fingers at what has brought about the difficulty – prior circumstances, our own sin, other’s sin, even at God Himself.  But the believer must not stay there.  The believer must clear that out of his heart and receive all things directly from the Father in humility and childlike trust.

The Essence of Prayer XVII – Lessons from Christ’s Prayer Life

Although there were some prayers recorded for the Lord Jesus, there are more places where it is simply recorded that He prayed.

We can learn from the example of the Lord Jesus as a Man of prayer, living a life of prayer.  We find Him praying for extended periods of time, at all times of the day and night, Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12, 13.  He prayed all night before He called out the twelve to be His closest disciples.  When unusual things occurred, the Lord Jesus was praying.  Luke 3:21, 22 records that at the baptism of the Lord Jesus it was while He prayed that the Holy Spirit descended on Him.  Luke also records that the Lord Jesus would often “slip away” to pray.  He lived in general in the Father’s presence.

The Lord Jesus emphasizes prayer by teaching on prayer.  In Luke 11 it is while the Lord Jesus is praying that His disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray.  Prayer is learned by hearing others pray with unction.  Hearing the earnest prayers of others make us want to pray.

The Lord Jesus exhorts to prayer.  In Luke 18 He gives the parable saying that “men always ought to pray”.  There are numerous exhortations to watch and pray.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-42; Mark 14:32-39; Luke 22:39-46; He is in agony in His own prayer but He breaks away to exhort the disciples to pray.  He clearly had the notion of the essential necessity of prayer.

He not only was an example to prayer, emphasized prayer, and exhorted to prayer, He also encouraged the disciples by prayer.  In Luke 22:31, 32 He tells Peter He has prayed for him when Satan was going to tempt him.  John 17 records His prayer for all believers.  It can be a great encouragement to hear that someone is praying us in a time of difficulty.

For the Lord Jesus, the greater the difficulty, the more prayer there seems to have been.  The greatest extent of prayer is recorded in the last two weeks of His life.  No matter what was going on, the more dire the need, the more He prayed.

What are the lessons for us?

–Even as the God-Man, He is praying to God as a Man.  Even after the resurrection He lives by faith.  He asks earnestly for the things He has need of.  We must likewise come in faith and trust to the Father.

–He had a basic need for communion with the Father, like food or breathing.  We must know that same need for ourselves.

—He asks earnestly for His needs and we see God answering Him.  In the Garden God sends angels to strengthen Him.  We must come earnestly to God for our needs.

–He always felt the necessity for prayer.  The more we pray, the more we feel our need for prayer.


The Psalms are primarily records of prayer.  The impetus for prayer is Christ’s work to bring us into God’s presence.  The Lord Jesus always did His Father’s bidding; He always came to the Father in obedience.  The one who is obeying and is in desperate need comes to the Father for all his needs.

The Essence of Prayer XVI – The Courage of Faith in Prayer

Psalm 18, 22, 27 express the courage of faith in the life of the believer.  Many of the early Psalms are by David and often begin with David in deep distress.  They then go on to statements of victory by faith. From an evangelical background, this can sound like having a trump card up the sleeve.  Faith is seen as the magic that moves God’s hand.  But the nature of true faith is our stance before God in prayer.  The fact that we come to God in prayer does not force His hand.  Faith is not a magic trump card that we use to get what we want from Him.  Many have been taught to believe that they ought to get what they want when they ask “in faith”.  But what does it mean when that doesn’t happen and the believer is still in deep trouble?  When we see David in trouble we need to consider how he deals with his trouble before God.

Four aspects of faith:

  • Faith faces the difficulty and brings it to God, Psalm 27:2

David’s faith doesn’t whitewash the circumstances at all.  He shows how high the physical and spiritual stakes are.  Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm that begins in the depths of difficulty, with the Psalmist in a sense of darkness from the desertion of God and asks “Why?”

  • Faith cries out

Not only is there a laying out of the worst of the problem, there is a declaration that God is good and does good.  Psalm 22:4 confirms who God is to the believer.  There is a confession of who God is, a recognition of the circumstances as being from God’s hand.  That’s why the blackness is so black because of the contrast of the circumstances with God’s goodness.  It’s this recognition of God’s goodness to the believer personally that causes him to cry out.

  • Faith waits

Faith understands properly that just because the believer is trusting God does not mean he has what he is waiting for, Psalm 27:14.  The cry of faith gives an ability to continue to cry out and to know that God does not give an instantaneous answer.  Psalm 27:8  There is a leaning on God, a continued seeking.  There are times when we come to the Lord with urgency but He does not answer in the same urgency.  He has His own timetable and we wait for Him.  Faith is a real, trustful looking to God, not a magic trump card to make Him answer when and how we want.

  • Faith is helped

Psalm 27:14  The promise is not that everything will get all better immediately but of heart strengthening.  Faith is helped inwardly.  Faith is also helped outwardly by the obedience of faith.  Psalm 18:32-34  David is expressing the reality of supernatural help in obedience.

Faith lays it all on the line before God, and faith is answered by God who is all to the believer.

The Essence of Prayer XV – Jesus’ Prayers, Matthew 11:25, 26

It is always good to consider the prayers of the Lord Jesus as a model for our own.  In Matthew 11:25, 26 the Lord Jesus is thanking the Father for something that does not seem easy to be thankful for – for something that seems opposite of what it “should” be.  The Lord Jesus came to save sinners but He is thanking God for not saving.

From this the believer can learn humbleness.  The Lord Jesus understood what God was doing but the believer often doesn’t.  It is a great blessing for the believer to be able to admit that he doesn’t understand – that is humility.  And there is even great blessing in being able to go beyond not understanding to thanking God for His providences, even the difficult ones.

In this passage there is a recognition that personal efforts are not ultimately useful in this world.  The wise and prudent of this world use all of their abilities to think, plan, and judge in this world.  But they cannot get anywhere spiritually by all their thinking, planning, and judgment.  There is too big a gulf to cross by personal effort.  The Lord Jesus is acknowledging that God has hidden the gospel from the wise and prudent of this world.  Why?  Because their goals are all of this world, things that are visible and going to be burned up.  But God’s goals are eternal and invisible.  In I Corinthians 2 it is God’s wisdom to hide spiritual things from the worldly and to reveal them to babes.  The Lord Jesus declares that this is from His sovereignty as Lord of heaven and earth.

There is always a gulf between the believer and the unbeliever, between the one looking only at the world and the one looking through the world to the spiritual reality behind it.  The believer must always keep the world in this proper perspective.  The believer must be in the position of the Lord Jesus in His prayer.  Are we thankful for God’s wise ruling, even in what we consider to be contrary circumstances?  There is a multitude who appear to be in desperate need of the gospel yet it is the wisdom of God to hide it from them.  His plan is being fulfilled and we must have the view of the Lord Jesus that He is still Lord of heaven and earth.  There must be humility to be thankful when God’s providences go against our desires.  This isn’t to say that this won’t be difficult.  It will be, but it is necessary for the believer.

The Essence of Prayer XIV – Hindrances to Prayer

There are many hindrances to prayer that the believer needs to be aware of.

1st Hindrance:  Lack of watchfulness.  The believer needs to be aware of the spiritual realities of prayer itself.  One of these is watchfulness.  In the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord commands the disciples with Him to watch and pray, Matthew 26:29.  Ephesians 6, the believer needs to be armed for prayer.  The believer needs to be aware that Satan hates to have us pray.  There will be every impediment to prayer put in our way that seem real walls against prayer.  Prayer itself is a wrestling as Jacob did with God, Genesis 32:24-29.Lack of watchfulness will keep the believer from prayer.

2nd Hindrance:  Disregard of the holiness of the place to which we are coming.  Psalm 100:4  The believer must have as part of his watchfulness going into prayer the awareness of where he is entering.  He must not be like Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1, who were careless in their approach to God, offering profane fire that He had not commanded.  The believer must enter into God’s presence with praise and worship, recognizing that He is God.  Matthew 6:7-9, the Lord Jesus teaches us to begin prayer with “Hallowed be Your name”.  Moses was commanded to remove his sandals in God’s presence, Exodus 3:5.  Esther had to be acknowledged by King Ahasuerus to enter into his presence, Esther 5:1, 2.  We need to enter into God’s presence with worship then serious prayer, entering into what God is doing, becomes possible.

3rd Hindrance:  Unforgiven sin.  There is a hindrance to prayer if we walk into God’s presence with hard hearts.  Further along in what is called the Lord’s Prayer, we are taught to request forgiveness as we forgive, Matthew 6:12.  If we do not have a clear conscience before God, if we have not forgiven others and are therefore not forgiven, there can be no actual prayer.

A further necessity for the believer is to bring Christ’s blood into the holy place, to acknowledge that we are sinners bought by Christ.

The Essence of Prayer XIII – A Spur to Prayer

Psalm 65:1-4

Vs. 1  The Psalm begins as many do with praise to God.  It is unique in the position it takes.  David starts off saying “Praise awaits You…in Zion”.  This is a statement that God’s people praise Him in the sanctuary.  God’s people need to bring Him praise, but the Psalm goes far deeper.  It is as if the temple is a fortress; the people are safe there and have all things provided for them.

Vs. 2  The one who has been brought to God is in a place from which to pray.  Not every place in the universe is praying ground.  Unless one has been brought to God in Zion (the church), the heavens are as brass.  But prayer is available to the one who has been brought to Zion.  Throughout the Old Testament every king made the walls of Jerusalem a little bit higher to make Israel safe.  In the same way God makes Zion a safe place for His people to pray.

Vs. 3  Sin overwhelms us and our world, but God will bring all humanity to bow before Him, Philippians 2:10.  And in Zion is the place of salvation, where God provides atonement.

Vs. 4  The theme is expressed again.  David states the blessedness of the one who is chosen to approach God in eternal closeness.  This is not just standing outside looking in at God’s glory but dwelling inside with God Himself.

This is an exhortation from the place of all-round blessedness to a place of prayer.  God brings His people close so that they might petition Him.  Everything that the believer needs is provided for and praise is required.  Prayer is a privilege for the believer; it is a necessity in Zion, the church.  Praise starts with God who provides a complete fortress for the believer in Zion.

The Essence of Prayer XII – Prayer in Good Times and Bad

Philippians 4:10-12  In verse 10, Paul brings up the whole reason for this letter, which is that they have sent relief to him while he was in Rome.  In this context he brings up being in need and commends them for supplying his needs.  In verses 11, 12 he expresses his ability to accept being in need as well as being in prosperity.

Philippians 4:6  Prayer in Good Times and Bad

There are times for believers when things are going very well.  There are other times when believers feel that they are in real, real need.  The believer is often allowed by God to be in very difficult circumstances.  Ps 102:6, 7  A pelican in the wilderness has great difficulty in finding food.  We often think of sparrows as happy little birds hopping around in flocks but sometimes there is a solitary one separated from his flock.  Psalm 119:83  Sometimes a believer feels like a wineskin drying up in smoke.  These are all very difficult circumstances when the believer feels like everything either has been taken away or what he now has might be taken away.  Paul says he knows how to be in such a place of need.  He also knows how to be in a place where everything appears to be fine.  Both places require prayer.  The believer must view both extremities from God’s hand.


Deuteronomy 32:15  Jeshurun was filled with the good things God had given and rebelled.  It is possible for the believer to grow complacent in ease.  The believer has the need to remember how he came into a place of ease.  David did not forget this, Psalm 23.  Yet, anxiety can develop that what the believer now has will be taken away, fear that things will go from good to bad.  Anxiety is also what the believer faces during times of difficulty, fear that things will go from bad to worse.  There is a necessity for the believer to be able to go to God properly in both extremes.  The command is to have no anxiety but to be in prayer during all circumstances, good or bad.  There is a necessity for the believer to bring all concerns to God.  There must be no holding back, as if anything is too big or too small to bring to God.  This requires a living relationship with the Lord and a living faith.


It’s easy to bring things to “the Lord” in a general way and not bring a specific request to God in a personal way.  The believer must learn to ask God to work in specific ways.  Psalm 57:2  God is control of all things.  The believer comes to Him who is in control of all things to petition Him specifically with urgent requests.  So Paul exhorts the believer, “Don’t worry about it – bring it!”  This is to be specific and direct.  The believer is to come boldly, Hebrews 4:16, right into God’s presence.


Paul further exhorts that prayer is to be with thanksgiving.  This implies that the believer acknowledges God’s sovereignty as the only One who gives all things.  Why would the believer come to Him without this knowledge?  If the believer can’t acknowledge God’s sovereignty then prayer is more like worrying.  To acknowledge God’s sovereignty in prayer of necessity leads to thanksgiving for His providing all things.  The believer must also acknowledge His goodness with thanksgiving as the One who gives good things.  The believer can go to Him boldly to fulfill every need and to keep his soul.