Summary: We have many ways in which we think we can get God to answer prayers. Luke 11 gives us insight as to our approach to God and the real way He answers prayer.
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How do you approach God to get things and what things do you expect?
Roulette Wheel - spin the wheel and take your chances
Genie - you get three wishes, any wishes you want
School master - be good enough and earn a good enough grade
Donald Trump - approach from a power position and make your best deal
How many of you know the Lord’s Prayer by heart? Most of us do. That’s a problem. We say it like mindless babble at best, an incantation at worst. As if just saying the words have a power of some kind. In actuality, the Lord’s Prayer has a lot to teach us about God, His Kingdom, and our place in it. Approaching God in prayer is a wonderful and dangerous thing-you might find you get what asked for!
Verses 1 - 4 The Lord’s Prayer
Was this a formula?
In a way it is our attitude towards God: You are God (I am not) and I want you to rule (instead of me), provide what I need, including grace when I fall, and make me like You for you are God (your character of unfailing love, mercy, and forgiveness into my character).
Verses 5 - 13
Jewish custom demanded two things: to provide lavishly for a visiting guest and to supply a request from your neighbor.
The word "impudence" here (translated persistence (NKJV) or boldness (NIV)) is used only here in Luke 11 and means both boldness and shamelessness. Imagine that man out in the middle of the night banging on his neighbor’s door - probably waking up the whole neighborhood. Would you do that?
The point here is pretty simple: you don’t have because you don’t ask (James 4:2). But it’s not just a thoughtless wish just tossed heavenward. Here we are talking about bold and persistent prayer - like it really matters to you. We are also not talking about trumped up prayer - God sees through that before you even speak the words.
Things that matter to you matter to God, but He wants to hear you, to hear your heart cry out. That kind of prayer can actually settle your mind on what is really important.
The second thing is what the answer was. We pray for a million dollars and God gives us - what? He gives us an unlimited eternal supply of: The Holy Spirit. Now I know you can’t go down to the grocery store and when they ring up the bill and ask if it’s credit or debit you say, "Oh, I’m paying for this with the Holy Spirit."
I think this is pretty radical. God isn’t as interested in the physical need (He supplies that too - we’ll see that in the next chapter ("consider the lilies of the field …" 12:27). He is more interested in healing, growing, and changing the inner person - strengthening us and empowering us by giving us part of Him. I think this radically changes our outlook and our expectation.
Verses 14 - 23
So here we have this wonderful God who is willing to give us a part of Himself. And the people are claiming that the power at work is actually the power of Satan. Beelzebul is probably a compilation of two Hebrew words: ba’al who was a local Canaanite fertility God (Hos 2:6) and "zebul" which means "exalted dwelling." The Jews who heard this would have understood it to mean Satan.
The Pharisees had a thriving business of driving out demons. If it was by Satan’s power then both He and the Pharisees did it by that power - rhetorical statement - of course the Pharisees would not say they had driven out demons by Satan. He also then says that a king would not throw out soldiers of his own army - that would be absurd.
The "finger of God" is probably a reference to what Pharaoh’s magicians said about Moses as he wielded God’s power to free the slaves in Egypt (Exodus 8:19). No worldly powers can overthrow Satan, but Jesus is stronger (as we saw in chapter 8 with the man who had a legion of demons).
When Jesus says "whoever is not with Me is against Me" He is saying there is no neutrality - you are either on God’s side or on Satan’s - and the default is Satan’s side. Now earlier He told the disciples not to stop a man who was throwing out demons but wasn’t one of their group - so in the fight against evil you are always on God’s side. That’s how people who don’t know God can still do His work - it doesn’t mean they are saved, but anything you do to overcome evil is actually overcoming evil.