So I say to you, ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
The promise is apparently absolute. It’s for “everyone”. But it’s not for just anything in the world. If you ask for cocaine, He’s not promising He’ll provide that! Jesus continues:
Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? (Luke 11:11-12)
Note that while Christ still highlights asking for appropriate things, He’s clearly trying to emphasize that normal fathers are eager to answer the appropriate requests of their children.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father given the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13)
Jesus is encouraging us to expect our heavenly Father to be even more inclined to help us than our imperfect earthly parents have been. Our heavenly Father truly cares for us and can be trusted to be a faithful provider for us.
Jesus then goes on to put an apparent clarification on the promise. We’re thinking that He’s been specifically teaching about praying for our daily bread and other essential needs. But He suddenly narrows the focus down to one particular thing:
Our need for the Holy Spirit.
The promise of powerful, prevailing prayer, pertains specifically to our need for the Holy Spirit. If we ask for the Holy Spirit, the heavenly Father will absolutely answer.
How do we explain the apparent “narrow” finish of Christ’s teaching on prayer? He’s actually giving us the interpretive key to the whole!
Rather than “limiting” the promise, He’s revealing the single most important key to successful praying on any level at any time. It’s the Presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Our problem with prayer is at least twofold. We do not know what we really need at any given point in our lives. And we are not sure of what God has made provision for. We need help on both of these levels.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)
The first and most important prayer concern, therefore, is to gain the guidance and support of God’s Spirit in prayer. He knows both what we need and what the Father has provided! As the Holy Spirit shows us what the Father has provided for us through the merits and work of His own Son, then we know what to pray for with great boldness and freedom.
If you see what you are asking for as something that God has already willed and provided for you, before you were even able to ask, then all that’s really left is to “receive”.
At this point prayer is no longer a human attempt to remove divine hesitancy. Rather, it is a relationship whereby the Spirit of God, as the Executor of the Father’s resources, brings us into possession of everything we need to experience His fullness and to know and accomplish His mission in the earth.