“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

When we begin a prayer relationship with God we open the door to untold blessings. This is why Jesus confidently taught: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you” (Luke 11:9-10). As James put it, often we do not receive because we do not ask (James 4:2).

Now we may ask, ‘Can I trust God to give me good things, or is he fickle?’ Jesus, anticipating our question, assures us that God not only listens, but also has our best interests at heart. In Luke 11:11-12 we read two metaphors that we can paraphrase: ‘The most violent thief can be kind to his son and the most mercenary minded father can be generous to his daughter; do you think God is any less open-handed?’

Jesus addressed our concern about God’s goodness by illustrating the way good parents behave towards their children. Good parents do not give their children what is not good for them despite the child’s demands.

In Luke 11 we learn that we can trust God to be good and wise in the way he responds to our prayers. He is neither capricious nor malicious. He will not spoil us with over-indulgence. Loving parents use wisdom in giving good gifts to their children. How much more does God use his discretion in answering our prayers. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed in agony that he would be spared the cup of suffering. Yet he prayed, ‘Not my will, but your will be done’.

None of us is wise enough or good enough to know what to ask for. And, let’s be honest, none of us is good enough to get everything we ask for. The encouraging truth is that our good, wise and loving heavenly Father knows what we need. He may not give us everything we want. He may delay making any response. He may even want to test the seriousness of our prayer – whether we will persist or simply give up. He may also want to test the quality of our relationship with him. Prayer is a precious privilege.

God is a father who loves to give. “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Jesus concluded (11:13). Why did he raise the subject of the Holy Spirit here? In the sweep of Luke’s narrative, we see Jesus was anticipating the great gift of his Spirit following his resurrection and ascension. His Spirit would open our minds to hear God’s voice through his Word; his Spirit would open our hearts to God and enable us to call him ‘Father’; his Spirit would open our lives to God and empower us to trust him and to follow him.