It sounds too good to be true, “ask and it will be given you”!  These were the words of Jesus we read today in Luke 11 v.9   This invitation was given after the Lord taught his disciples how to pray – in the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer.  Immediately after this Jesus tells them a parable about a man who unexpectedly receives visitors at midnight and has nothing in his house to set before them.  His solution!  To go to his friendly neighbour and knock him up although he knows he and his family have gone to bed.

The neighbour does not want to be disturbed, but the man persists and so he relents, so “he will rise and give him whatever he needs” [v.8]. This is the prelude to our opening quotation and leads us to perceive that Jesus is drawing a parallel between human attitudes toward helping those in real and urgent need and the more ready availability of God’s help if we will but ask.

Now the prayer he had just taught them included, “Give us each day our daily bread.”   That is not an abundance of bread, but bread sufficient for each day.  In the environment of 2,000 years ago – as in many countries today – sufficient food for the day is not at all certain.  The words of Jesus are not an invitation to ask for whatever you like – but for whatever you need, which is vastly different.

Jesus proceeds to draw a parallel to parents providing the right kind of gifts for their children such as a fish or an egg. (v.11)  He then says, “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].

Now in yesterday’s chapter we read that Jesus sent out 72 disciples to preach and “heal the sick” [v.9].  So they had the Holy Spirit already: but is this what it means here?  The Greek text does not have a definite article, so it is not “the” Holy Spirit! We see it being better understood as meaning – holiness of spirit or mind.  This fits in with words in Hebrews 12, “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” [v.10] and “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” [v.14]  So what will you ask for?

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