Nothing to Set Before Him”

Luke 10:38-42

LUKE records our Lord’s visit in the home of Martha and Mary (10:38-42), where Mary sat at His feet while Martha was unduly worried and taken up with His entertainment. He did not reprove her for working, but for worrying. He uses two terms, “Thou art careful and troubled,” and we read that she was “cumbered about”—distracted with—much serving. Jesus preferred attention to His teachings to so much fuss and fret about something to eat. Do we not today, in our church activities, spend too much time with secondary busyness and not enough at His feet in prayer and worshipful waiting on the Lord?

We read further in this Gospel (11:1-13) that His disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Not just how to pray but “to pray,” which is far better. Some have the theory, but still they do not pray! Our Lord gave them what we call the Lord’s Prayer—which is His only in the sense that He gave it to us. He never needed to pray it, for He had no sins to be forgiven.

It begins with worship and adoration to our Father in Heaven. Then it moves to temporal needs, “our daily bread,” and ends with spiritual need, forgiveness and deliverance from evil.

He then tells the parable of the three friends: the friend who had a friend call upon him at midnight for bread because his friend had come to see him, and he had “nothing to set before him.” That is the predicament of every one of us in a wider sense. Parents, who are your children but “friends” who have come to you in their journey—and you have nothing to set before them; you cannot feed their souls unless you borrow loaves from God. Your class at Sunday school, the minister’s congregation, your customers in business—all who come to you are your “friends,” dropping by on their journey, and you need spiritual bread to set before them. Blessed is the man who knows the way to the Father’s house where there is bread to spare. Prayer brings down blessing to pass on. We must come to Him and commune if we are to have anything to communicate.

Jesus here teaches the value of importunate prayer. The request for bread is granted not because the seeker is a friend but because he keeps on asking. So prayer that keeps on never fails. “Ask”—that is our Lord’s key to spiritual supplies. A for “ask” and S for “seek” and K for “knock.” He goes on to say that if earthly fathers give good gifts to their children, how much more will God! I think we often pray as though God were more or less disinterested and we had to coax and persuade Him into helping us. But He is far more anxious to help us than we to be helped! Here Jesus says the Father will give the Spirit to those who ask Him. That is far better than to give us things, for what we need most is not more things but more of His Spirit by which we can do all things. His strength, which is made perfect in weakness, thereby becomes ours.

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