One last thing about the DeAndre Jordan situation: it has made Mark Cuban a sympathetic figure. Crazy, huh? You know that Jordan has done an under-handed, diabolical, evil thing when it causes me to actually feel sorry for Cuban.
Now, back to our look at Jesus’ parable in Luke 11 and, today, what I find the most interesting about the story. Our Lord concludes his comments regarding the story with this often-overlooked line: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Wait a second! Holy Spirit? I thought we were talking about bread! I thought this story was about our basic needs, the fundamental necessities.
We’ve seen in this story that God promises to give us everything we need and he promises to answer our prayers when we ask for what we need. Now Jesus closes it out by telling us that what we really need is the Holy Spirit. So ask for it! This is what you pray for: the Spirit. And when you do, God says, “Yes!”
This is not an open-ended teaching here. It’s not a blank check. It’s never been about asking for anything you want. God never promises to give us everything we want; but he always guarantees to give us every single thing we need. And what we need is God’s Spirit. So pray for it.
This is hard for us. We don’t really know how to do this. We know how to pray for sick people. We know how to get our names on the prayer list and how to pray for my relatives and friends of my relatives and for the second cousin of my insurance guy’s mother. Who lives in Kentucky. Yeah, we’re very good at praying for healing. We know how to pray for what we want.
Give me this new job, Lord. Help her fall in love with me, God. Father, get me out of this traffic. We pray for what we want.
Lord, keep my children safe. God, help our church to grow. Father, help our candidate win the election. Lord, help our Wednesday nights to be successful. We know how to pray for what we want.
Jesus tells us to pray for what we need. And what we need, he says, is the Holy Spirit.
What would it look like to pray for the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit convicts hearts of sin, right? Can you pray that? “Father, please convict me of the sin in my life. Please shine a bright light on the sins in my heart, God. Convict me of my sin. Expose it, Lord. And deal with it.” That’s not necessarily what I want. But it’s certainly what I need.
What would it look like to pray for what we need instead of what we want? The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, right? Can you pray that? “Father, maybe I need to go through some suffering. Maybe I need a season of washing and purifying. I know your Spirit will help me, Lord. You know what I really need, God. Maybe I need to be weak for a while.” Not what I want; maybe what I need.
What would it look like? Jesus calls the Spirit the “Spirit of Truth.” Can you pray that? “Lord, give me your Spirit of Truth. Show me what’s really true in my life, the things I can’t see, the things I ignore, the things I neglect. Show me the truth about myself. And force me to deal with it, God.” Not what I want, but what I need.
What if you went this whole weekend, from this moment through Sunday night, and only prayed for what you really need and did not pray at all for what you merely want? What if you took our Lord Jesus completely at his word? What if you really trusted him with what he says about prayer: that God provides everything we need, that God will answer us when we pray for what we really need, and that what we really need is his Holy Spirit?
What would it look like?
Maybe you’ll need help. Maybe flipping to the “fruit of the Spirit” passage in Galatians 5 could be a good starting place for you. Pray for more of that Holy Spirit character in your own life.
Pray for joy. Not joy because you sold your house or you got the raise. Joy because even though you’re going through a very difficult time, God is mercifully sustaining you. Or joy because the blood of Jesus is washing you.
Pray for patience. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard your whole life not to ever pray for patience. Jesus says pray for what you need, not what you want. It’s the Spirit. Pray for patience.
Pray for kindness. You know that person you’re not nice to. Be specific. Ask the Holy Spirit to break your heart for that person.
Pray for self-control. Part of your life is probably out of control. Part of your life is led by your impulses, your urges and desires, not by God’s Spirit. The way you eat, the way you experience sex, the hours you work, the hobby you pursue — pray for the Holy Spirit to bring those things under his control.
What would it look like?
Oh how I miss those Sunday morning prayers with you brother! About such things as these. Your words of what we are about keep me focused.