Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Prayer
Volume 7 No. 432 August 25, 2017
II. Lectionary Reflections: Today's Gospel

Gospel Reading: Luke 11:9-20 (NKJV)
Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread [a] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

A House Divided Cannot Stand

14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. 15 But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebub, [b] the ruler of the demons."

16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.


Luke 11:11 NU-Text omits the words from bread through for in the next sentence.
Luke 11:15 NU-Text and M-Text read Beelzebul.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-17 (NKJV)
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Gospel Reading: Luke 17:22-24, 18:1-8 (NKJV)
22 Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!'[a] Do not go after them or follow them. 24 For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'"

6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

General Comments About Prayer in Luke

by Brian Stoffregen, Faith Lutheran Church, Marysville, CA

Luke has a greater emphasis on prayer than the other gospels. The following are the occurrence in the Gospels and Acts of words related to prayer.

proseuche/proseuchomai = prayer/pray in the gospels

Mt = 17 verses
Mk = 13 verses
Lk = 21 verses -- 12 of those verses in Luke are unique to that gospel
Jo = 0 verses
Acts = 25 verses

deomai/deesis = ask, beg, pray/prayer, petition

Mt = 1 verse
Mk = 0 verses
Lk = 10 verses
Jo = 0 verses
Acts = 7 verses

erotao/eperotao = ask, request, beg/ask for

Mt = 12 verses
Mk = 29 verses
Lk = 32 verses
Jo = 29 verses
Acts = 9 verses

Although deomai/deesis and erotao/eperotao don't specifically mean prayer, there are instances where requests are made of Jesus or God.

Many times in synoptic events, Luke includes comments about Jesus' praying that are not found in the other gospels.

Jesus is praying at his baptism before heavens open (3:21)
Jesus spends the night praying to God before selecting the twelve (6:12)
Jesus is praying before he asks the disciples, "Who do the crowds/you say that I am?" (9:18)
Jesus is praying on the mountain before the transfiguration. (9:28, 29)
Jesus is praying before the disciples ask him to teach them to pray. (11:1)
While the other synoptics indicate that Jesus went into the hills to pray, Luke's particular verse is in a unique context (5:16).

The following parables about prayer are unique to Luke:

The Friend at Midnight (11:5-8)
The Widow and the Judge (18:1-8)
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (18:9-14)
Other synoptic passages about prayer in Luke

Pray for those who mistreat you (6:28 Q -- source)
"When you pray, say . . . . (11:2 -- Q source)
"My house shall be a house of prayer" (19:46 -- Mk source)
Scribes, for a show, make lengthy prayers (20:47 -- Mk source)
Jesus praying in the garden and asks disciples to pray (22:40, 41, 44, 45, 46 -- Mk source)

Why this emphasis on prayer in Luke? Especially the number of times Jesus is pictured praying (and the apostles/disciples in Acts)?

It may be that Luke was writing to a group of people unfamiliar with Christian/Jewish prayer, so he emphasizes the importance of prayer. If Jesus often prayed, how much more do we need to pray?

I often begin classes on prayer by asking these questions:

Why don't people pray?
Why do people pray?
What might you conclude about a person who prays regularly?
What might you conclude about a person who feels no need to pray?
Should a person who claims to be a believer but never prays, be considered a Christian? Why or why not?
We might also ask, just because somebody prays, does that make him/her a Christian? (Part of the LCMS's objections to lodges is that they pray, but since they don't use a Trinitarian formula in their prayers, they must be praying to some false god.) Many other religious groups pray to god or gods. Does our God hear the prayers of Muslims and Hindus, etc. If our God hears, does God respond to their requests?

What is the relationship between the Christian faith and praying? Michael Foss (Power Surge) lists "daily prayer" as "The first mark of a disciple." (There are five other marks that he lists. Similarly the ELCA's Seven Faith Practices includes "Pray Frequently".)

Foss begins the section on prayer with these two paragraphs:

Frankly, I was stunned. He approached me after worship and said, "I have really enjoyed the sermon series you and the other pastors have given on prayer. And I really feel called to pray more. The only problem I have is that I just don't know how."

When Rod Kopp, our director of finance and personnel at Prince of Peace, offered a workshop at our annual Changing Church Conference on prayer, we were all excited by the number of participants who attended. But I was stunned again when one of the pastors responded to Rod's workshop with a startling confession, "You are assuming," he said, "that we pastors know how to pray. But many of us don't." [p. 90]

From the first disciples to those of today, we need to ask, "Teach us to pray."

The Lost Sheep - Devotional

by Ralph Bouma

"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?" - LUK 11:13

Our Saviour teaches us the need for importunity in prayer.

He gives us such a beautiful illustration of the Father's attentiveness to prayer in the parable in LUK 11:11-13. "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? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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?"

The Lord speaks of the most precious promises in EZE 36:25-27, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

We shall not just sit idly by and wait for the Lord to grant these precious promises without asking. He tells us in EZE 36:37 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry," PSA 147:9.

The Lord will not bring His blessings in our soul when we have no desire for them. The Lord tells us in PRO 27:7, "The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet."

As a result of his fallen nature, man, "rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High," PSA 107:11. "Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help . . . He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder," PSA 107:12-14.

By His chastening hand, the Lord creates a true hunger and thirst after righteousness, and brings about that true prayer of importunity.

"My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of His correction: For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth," PRO 3:11-12. Our lovely Saviour tells us in the words of our text that the tenderness of our heavenly Father so far excels that of our natural father.

We are admonished, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him, For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" HEB 12:5-7.

We read in PSA 107:5-9, "Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses . . . Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."

See the tender Fatherly love Jesus shews forth in our text, "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?" LUK 11:13. Amen.

Undeserving Rewards

by Ralph Bouma

Luke 11:13 "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?"

He sees us as we are; He knows that we don't deserve it. He sees our wretchedness, pride, and our sins. He understands, He knows us, but He will give us much more than we are able to give our children.

When the Lord sees in us, who are vile, a good thing, that good desire after the Spirit of Christ, and the hungering and thirsting after righteousness, He will give us the gift of the Holy Spirit—if we will ask Him.

Often our sins of pride, which work a self-righteous spirit of independence and self-sufficiency, come between us and our God. The Lord withdraws Himself when He sees these sins.

First, we must repent of our sins. We must come confessing our pride and self-righteousness, and that is so against our human nature. If we are truly one of God's people, we experience that frequently. Our old self wants to keep raising that ugly monster, "I." It is the fountain of all corruption. The Lord withdraws Himself until we come in our proper place.

It goes against the grain of our fallen nature to take our place in the dust while God's tender, Fatherly hand of chastening is upon us. It goes against our prideful nature to sing of His mercy as David said, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities," PSA 103:10.

The Lord is dealing with us as sons. When the Lord is chastening us and putting us in our proper place, He is dealing with us in His tender, Fatherly love. Then we can come to Him, confessing we deserve much more chastisement, but He does not reward us according to our iniquities.



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