The Lukan passage of 11:1-13 is pre-Pentecost, but it is still God’s word for us. Here is the entire passage (NIV):
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity, he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be, to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The NIV titles the passage, “Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer.” And that’s OK; the prayer is the lead-off to Jesus’ response to His disciples’ request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (v1c).
Now let me suggest a thought. I have reason to believe that in terms of the Lukan structure of the whole passage Jesus is teaching the reader to pray for the Holy Spirit. Let me explain.
First off, observe a keyword. Starting with “Give us each day our daily bread” (v3) the verb (“give”) occurs seven other times in the passage: v8 (2x), v9, v11, v12, v13 (2x)! That tells us the emphasis of the passage! So, the obvious question is, what does Jesus want us to pray to our Father in heaven to “give” us?
Here’s why the structure of Lk 11:1-3 comes into play. And it is a beautiful thing to my mind! The first “give” is a prayer, “Give us each day our daily bread” (v3). And what does the last use of “give” tell us? “…(h)ow much more will your heavenly Father in heaven give the Holy Spirt to those who ask him!” (v13b). The last use of “give” tells us what the Father desires to give us.
Beginning: “Give us each day our daily bread” (v3)
End: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (v13b)
That’s how the passage begins and ends!
Second, we need to ask another question: What has the Holy Spirit to do with 11:1-13a? I remember hearing a sermon many years back that v13b somehow has a connection to the “bread” in v3. And that’s ok, too.
But let me suggest another thought. And it has something to do with a little word, “context.” You see, the passage of 11:1-13 flows into the next, 11:14-23. You can read it for yourself.
Why does our heavenly Father desire to give us the Holy Spirit? Folks, we are in a serious struggle against “someone stronger” than us!