Summary: Luke 11:9 doesn't say, “Ask for anything you want.” It’s more like, “Ask for my kingdom, and you will have it.”
Next week is See You At The Pole. See You At The Pole is an event where students nationwide gather together around the flagpole of their school and pray for their school, their classmates, the teachers, and their community. It’s a way to live out your faith -- to walk according to scripture in a very public way.
See You At The Pole was started in early 1990 by a small group of ten teenagers after attending a youth rally. After the rally, while they were driving back home to Texas, they all agreed that after the amazing experiences they had with God during the rally, they simply could not go back to how their life was before they left. Things could no longer be “normal”. In June of that year, they issued a challenge to other youth groups in their area to pray at their schools. By September of that same year, See You At The Pole was formed with more than 56,000 students praying at their schools. They agreed to start praying around their school’s flagpole every morning before class started, asking God to move in the lives of their friends, families, and teachers. The movement has since taken off, and is now celebrated in many countries all over the world.
See You At The Pole grew from ten teenagers to more than 56,000 in less than a year because they covered it in prayer. They took 1 Timothy 4:12 to heart -- “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” That’s exactly what they did -- they set an example. They set an example in speech by praying openly. They set an example in conduct by practicing what they preached -- they avoided hypocrisy as much as possible. In love -- their entire plan was based on love for their school, classmates, teachers, family, and community. They prayed for God to move in their lives! They had the faith to know that God would move, and prayed accordingly; and they showed purity in their motives -- they didn’t pray for great wealth or popularity or even to pass their classes -- they prayed for everyone else around them.
The group started with just ten teenagers and grew to thousands in less than a year. It quickly passed the million mark, and spread to other countries. This happened because they knew that individuals can make a difference -- so long as they pray about it first! They had the faith to know that if you pray for something, your prayer will be answered. After all, doesn’t the Bible mention that? Specifically, doesn’t Jesus mention that, in Luke?
Luke 11:9: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
This verse is commonly taken out of context -- on the surface, it certainly can seem like it means, “Pray, and your prayers will be answered with “yes”!” Isn’t that what Jesus is saying? “Ask and it will be given to you” -- what else could that mean?!
Well, let’s look at the context. Let’s start all the way at the beginning of the chapter:
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
“ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. ’ ” 5Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If 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!”