25 July 2010Luke 11:1-13
"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (v.13)
There is a feeling of urgency about the way in which the writer
of Luke's Gospel records the words of what we know as the Lord's
Prayer. The phrases are short, direct and in keeping with the
parable and sayings that immediately follow, in which the idea of
asking, seeking and knocking recur.
If read quickly, these verses can deliver an impression that it is our task to nag God until we get what we want (including our daily bread), but Luke has other things he wants to tell us.
The first is that, by example, Jesus demonstrated the critical role of prayer for our understanding of what God wants for us. Arguably more than the other Gospel writers, Luke lays a good deal of emphasis on Jesus' prayer life - he is shown at prayer seven times during this Gospel. It's little wonder that his disciples want to develop their own prayer life too.
Secondly, Luke draws out the nature of our relationship with God - both in the prayer (which begins with the intimate "Abba" - meaning 'father') and the parable that follows. We are not invited to liken the reluctant friend to God but to contrast the two. As a parent, Jesus asks, would you be so obtuse about your children's requests? Of course not, we say. Quite so, responds Jesus.
Parents tend to forget that their children know them almost as well they know their children. Jesus invites his disciples to understand that God has chosen to be as a parent to them, thus implying that they can know God intimately (through prayer), and discover in God a generous parent who wishes to share with them God's dream, God's 'Word', for the world.
It isn't always easy to feel connected to God outside worship or personal prayer and quiet times. Is there a way in which you can remind yourself of God's parental presence even when your day is filled with tasks and concerns?
Jesus assumes that a parent always wants the best for their child. How would you explain this image of God to a son or daughter for whom this has not been the case?
What do you think Jesus meant when he described his disciples as 'evil'? How would you respond if Jesus told you that you are evil?