The How, Why and What of Praying

Praying is an important part of our lives as Christians. It is important that we not only know how to pray but also know why and what we will receive when we pray. Today, I want to break down two separate instances where Jesus was telling His disciples how to pray.  Now, when I first came across this I didn’t think very much about it.  To me there didn’t seem to be any difference between what Jesus was telling His disciples to do here in Luke 11 and in John 14, but upon closer inspection the Lord revealed this to me.  

If you haven’t yet check out our previous post here.

Our Text

Prayer Under the Old Covenant

1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.

4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:1-13 KJV

Prayer Under the New Covenant

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14 KJV

…as John also taught his disciples.

Beginning in verse 1 of Luke 11,

“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

So the disciples came up on Jesus praying and they too wanted to know how to pray.   

Jesus responds to their request by not only telling them how to pray, but also why they will receive and what they will receive.  But notice that key phrase, “as John also taught his disciples.”  This prayer that we so commonly use was a model for those without salvation or the Holy Spirit.  It is a prayer under the Old Covenant.

Praying: How to under the Old Covenant

In verses 2 – 4 we see the most commonly quoted religious prayer.   Jesus was describing to His disciples how to pray.  

2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.

4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:2-4

( That also means that His disciples didn’t necessarily quote this prayer word-for-word each day – that just becomes monotonous – and neither should we.  God is not interested in the amount of words you speak, but in the faith you express when you pray as we will see in a few minutes. )

Why they would receive

But Jesus did more than simply tell them how to pray; He told them why their prayers will be answered.  

Faith of Abraham

Before we look at this we need to establish some ground work.  Jesus was operating under the dispensation of the Law.  This is the time between when Moses was given the 10 commandments to the time right before Jesus died, went to hell, paid for sin, rose again, took His blood and sprinkled it on the mercy seat for our sins and then sat down at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us. 

The Law was given as protection for the Jewish people and the line of Jesus on this earth, and as long as Israel obeyed the Law and performed the proper sacrifices and offerings God could legally protect them (Romans 7:12).  

I say all of this (and truly there is way more to be spoken on the topic) to say Israel was required to stand on the promises of Abraham at this time and look for the Messiah.  Their position with God was on the outside looking in.  They were saved not by Jesus – because Jesus hadn’t come yet – but by standing on the Covenant God made with Abraham under the protection of the Law. 

Jesus in talking about this very fact said this…

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

John 8:32-33

The Jews, however, did not understand.  They were approaching Jesus from the only place they knew – their standing as a child of Abraham.  

See as new creations as Christians we live by the faith of Jesus.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 KJV

But they didn’t have Jesus yet, they lived by the faith of Abraham.  

And it was by standing on the promises of God and their father Abraham which was counted righteous by his faith that any of Israel were able to access God.  

It was Midnight

Now let’s return to what Jesus was teaching. 

“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

Luke 11:5-8

This statement “at midnight” in verse 5 is important.  “At midnight” is the same as saying, “while the Law is in effect”.  Remember the disciples started this by asking to pray “…as John also taught His disciples.” This is what Jesus was saying.

There is a lot of significance to the statement “at midnight” that we don’t have time to get into in this post talking about the Jewish calendar and what it represents throughout many of Jesus’ parables, but thats another post later. For now let’s simple say “it was midnight” represents “the law of Moses was in effect”.

But Why?

So Jesus is saying here,  “I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” 

That word, “importunity” is the same thing as the word “persistence”. Because you keep asking Me over and over again, I will do it.  

If we go on to read, in verse 9 He says, 

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

In the amplified it says,

9 “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 

Luke 11:9 AMP

Jesus was saying be persistent.  Stand on the promises. And if not for the fact that you are a friend of God, but only the fact that you keep on asking constantly – God will grant your request. 

DISCLAIMER!!!

We will see in a few minutes how that is NOT the case to those who have the name of Jesus.

But here Jesus is telling the disciples that they need to ask and keep on asking to receive from God.

This is where many people miss it today.  They take that scripture and want to apply it today.  Begging God to answer your prayers will not move God’s hand.  Only faith will move God. 

Praying under Our Better Covenant

6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Hebrews 8:6 KJV

So what is this better covenant with better promises?

It’s Jesus. 

Jesus is the better covenant that we have and in John 14:12-14 it says,

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14 KJV

No more begging. No more pleading.  We now have a RIGHT to be in God’s presence because of Jesus.  We see in verse 12 the reason why we can ask anything in the name of Jesus is because we are a Christian.

“He that believeth on me…”

And again in Romans 8:17 that we are heirs of God.

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:17 KJV

We are made righteous through Jesus; able to step into God’s house, open up the fridge and take what we need.  No longer are we on the outside begging God to supply our needs.  WE can walk in by the name of Jesus, step by faith, ask and receive ONE TIME the answer to our prayers through the name of Jesus. 

What they (& we) receive when we stand praying

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

Galatians 3:7 KJV

We are a part of God’s family.  It is time we start acting like it.  No more begging for God to answer our prayers.  Why would your own father give you a stone or a serpent (Luke 11:11). When you stand praying believe you receive it and you will have it.

So then what can we expect when we come to God.  

We can expect that 

  • He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him
  • A supplier of our needs
  • He never leaves us or forsakes us 
  • We are His children

We are a part of God’s family.  It is time we start acting like it.