Jehovah Gives “Holy Spirit to Those Asking Him”
“If you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”—LUKE 11:13.
1. When do we especially need the help of the holy spirit?
‘I CANNOT face this on my own. Only with the help of the holy spirit will I be able to endure this trial!’ Have you ever expressed such heartfelt sentiments? Most Christians have. Perhaps you did so after you learned that you had contracted a serious illness. Or perhaps it was at the time when your lifelong marriage mate fell asleep in death. Or it may have been when your once-sunny disposition was overshadowed by the dark clouds of depression. At painful times in life, you may have felt that you were surviving only because Jehovah’s holy spirit provided you with “power beyond what is normal.”—2 Corinthians 4:7-9; Psalm 40:1, 2.
2. (a) What challenges do true Christians face? (b) What questions will we consider in this article?
2 True Christians have to deal with increasing pressure and opposition from today’s ungodly world. (1 John 5:19) In addition, followers of Christ are attacked by Satan the Devil himself, who is waging a vicious war against those who “observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:12, 17) It is no wonder, therefore, that we need the support of God’s spirit now more than ever. What can we do to make sure that we continue to receive God’s holy spirit in abundance? And why can we be certain that Jehovah is more than willing to give us the strength needed in times of trial? We find the answers to these questions in two of Jesus’ illustrations.
3, 4. What illustration did Jesus relate, and how did he apply it to prayer?
3 One of Jesus’ disciples once requested: “Lord, teach us how to pray.” (Luke 11:1) In answer, Jesus gave his disciples two related illustrations. The first is about a man who is hosting a guest, and the second is about a father who listens to his son. Let us consider each of these two illustrations.
4 Jesus said: “Who of you will have a friend and will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves, because a friend of mine has just come to me on a journey and I have nothing to set before him’? And that one from inside says in reply, ‘Quit making me trouble. The door is already locked, and my young children are with me in bed; I cannot rise up and give you anything.’ I tell you, Although he will not rise up and give him anything because of being his friend, certainly because of his bold persistence he will get up and give him what things he needs.” Jesus then explained how this illustration applies to the practice of prayer, saying: “Accordingly I say to you, Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.”—Luke 11:5-10.
5. What does the illustration about the persistent man teach us about our disposition when praying?
5 This vivid illustration of a persistent man shows what our disposition should be when we pray. Note that Jesus says that the man succeeds in obtaining what he needs “because of his bold persistence.” (Luke 11:8) The expression “bold persistence” occurs only once in the Bible. It is translated from a Greek word that literally means “shamelessness.” Often shamelessness indicates a bad trait. However, when shamelessness or persistence is shown for a good cause, it can be a commendable quality. That is the case with the host in the illustration. He does not feel any shame in asking persistently for what he needs. Since Jesus presents this host as an example for us, our prayers should likewise be persistent. Jehovah wants us to ‘keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.’ In response, he will “give holy spirit to those asking him.”
6. In Jesus’ day, how was the custom of showing hospitality viewed?
6 Jesus shows us not only how we should pray—with bold persistence—but also why we should do so. To discern that lesson clearly, we should consider how those who listened to Jesus’ illustration about the persistent host viewed the custom of extending hospitality. Numerous passages in the Scriptures show that in Bible times, caring for visitors was a custom that was taken seriously, especially by God’s servants. (Genesis 18:2-5; Hebrews 13:2) Failing to show hospitality was a disgrace. (Luke 7:36-38, 44-46) With that in mind, let us look again at Jesus’ story.
7. Why is the host in Jesus’ illustration not ashamed to wake up his friend?
7 The host in the illustration receives a visitor in the middle of the night. The host feels compelled to serve food for his guest but has “nothing to set before him.” This, in his view, is an emergency! He has to get some bread, no matter what it takes. So he goes to a friend of his and shamelessly wakes him up. “Friend, loan me three loaves,” the host calls out. He persists with his request until he gets what he needs. Only then, with the loaves in his possession, can he be a proper host.
The More Needed—The More Asked For
8. What will move us to pray persistently for holy spirit?
8 What does this illustration show about the reason why we pray persistently? The man kept asking for bread because he felt that having those loaves in his possession was absolutely necessary to carry out his duty as a host. (Isaiah 58:5-7) Without bread, he would fall short. Comparably, because we realize that having God’s spirit is absolutely necessary to carry out our ministry as true Christians, we keep praying to God, asking for that spirit. (Zechariah 4:6) Without it, we will fail. (Matthew 26:41) Do you see the important conclusion that we can draw from this illustration? If we view God’s spirit as something we urgently need, we are more likely to persist in asking for it.
9, 10. (a) Illustrate why we need to be persistent in asking God for his spirit. (b) What question should we ask ourselves, and why?
9 To put this lesson in a present-day setting, imagine that one of your family members becomes sick in the middle of the night. Would you awaken a doctor to ask him for help? Not if the patient has a minor complaint. However, if he is having a heart attack, you would not be ashamed to call a doctor. Why? Because you face an emergency. You realize that skilled help is absolutely necessary. Not asking for help could prove fatal. Similarly, true Christians face an ongoing emergency, so to speak. After all, Satan goes about like “a roaring lion,” trying to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8) For us to stay alive spiritually, the help of God’s spirit is absolutely necessary. Not asking for God’s help could be fatal. Hence, with bold persistence we ask God for his holy spirit. (Ephesians 3:14-16) Only by doing so will we maintain the strength needed to ‘endure to the end.’—Matthew 10:22; 24:13.
10 It is therefore crucial for us to pause at times and ask ourselves, ‘Really, how persistent are my prayers?’ Remember, when we fully realize that we need God’s help, our prayers for holy spirit will be more persistent.
What Moves Us to Pray With Confidence?
11. How did Jesus apply the illustration of a father and his son to prayer?
11 Jesus’ illustration of the persistent host highlights the disposition of the one who prays—the believer. The next illustration highlights the disposition of the one who hears prayers—Jehovah God. Jesus asked: “Indeed, which father is there among you who, if his son asks for a fish, will perhaps hand him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he also asks for an egg, will hand him a scorpion?” Jesus went on to make the application, saying: “Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”—Luke 11:11-13.
12. How does the illustration of the father hearing his son’s request highlight Jehovah’s willingness to respond to our prayers?
12 With this example of a father responding to his son, Jesus reveals how Jehovah feels about those who turn to him in prayer. (Luke 10:22) First, note the contrast. Unlike the man in the first illustration who was reluctant to respond to a call for help, Jehovah is like a caring human parent, who is eager to respond to a request from his child. (Psalm 50:15) Jesus further reveals Jehovah’s willing disposition toward us by reasoning from the lesser to the greater. He says that if a human father, though “being wicked” because of inherited sinfulness, gives a good gift to his son, how much more so can we expect that our heavenly Father, being benevolent, will give holy spirit to his family of worshippers!—James 1:17.
13. Of what can we be sure when we pray to Jehovah?
13 What is the lesson for us? We can be confident that when we ask our heavenly Father for holy spirit, he is more than willing to grant our request. (1 John 5:14) When we turn to him in prayer again and again, Jehovah will never say, as it were: “Quit making me trouble. The door is already locked.” (Luke 11:7) On the contrary, Jesus stated: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9, 10) Yes, Jehovah “will answer us in the day that we call.”—Psalm 20:9; 145:18.
14. (a) What erroneous idea troubles some who face trials? (b) When facing trials, why may we pray to Jehovah with confidence?
14 Jesus’ illustration of the caring father also emphasizes that Jehovah’s goodness is far greater than the goodness shown by any human parent. Hence, none of us should ever feel that the trials we may be facing must be an expression of God’s displeasure with us. It is our archenemy, Satan, who wants us to think that way. (Job 4:1, 7, 8; John 8:44) There is no Scriptural basis for such self-condemnatory thoughts. Jehovah does not try us “with evil things.” (James 1:13) He does not hand us a serpentlike trial or a scorpionlike test. Our heavenly Father gives “good things to those asking him.” (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13) Indeed, the more we appreciate Jehovah’s goodness and his willingness to help us, the more we will be moved to pray with confidence. As we do, we too will be able to express sentiments like those of the psalmist who wrote: “Truly God has heard; he has paid attention to the voice of my prayer.”—Psalm 10:17; 66:19.
How the Holy Spirit Is Our Helper
15. (a) What promise did Jesus make regarding the holy spirit? (b) What is one way that the holy spirit helps us?
15 Shortly before his death, Jesus repeated the assurance he had given in his illustrations. Speaking about the holy spirit, he told his apostles: “I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever.” (John 14:16) Thus Jesus promised that the helper, or holy spirit, would be with his followers in times to come, including in our day. What is one significant way that we today experience such support? The holy spirit helps us to endure various trials. How so? The apostle Paul, who faced tests himself, described in a letter to the Christians in Corinth how God’s spirit came to his aid. Let us briefly consider what he wrote.
16. How may our situation be similar to that of Paul?
16 First, Paul openly told his fellow believers that he was dealing with “a thorn in the flesh,” a trial of some sort. Then, he said: “I three times entreated the Lord [Jehovah] that it might depart from me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8) Even though Paul begged God to remove his affliction, it remained. Perhaps you face a similar situation today. Like Paul, you may have prayed with persistence and with confidence, asking Jehovah to remove a trial. Despite your repeated petitions, however, the problem still confronts you. Does that mean that Jehovah did not respond to your prayers and that his spirit is not helping you? Not at all! (Psalm 10:1, 17) Note what the apostle Paul said next.
17. How did Jehovah answer Paul’s prayers?
17 In response to Paul’s prayers, God told him: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for my power is being made perfect in weakness.” Paul said: “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast as respects my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9; Psalm 147:5) Hence, Paul experienced that through Christ, God’s powerful protection was spread over him like a tent. Today, Jehovah answers our prayers in a similar manner. He spreads his protection like a shelter over his servants.
18. Why are we able to endure trials?
18 Of course, a tent does not stop the rains from falling or the winds from blowing, but it does provide some protection from those elements. Likewise, the shelter provided by “the power of the Christ” does not stop trials from befalling us or hardships from being brought against us. Yet, it does give spiritual protection against the harmful elements of this world and the attacks of its ruler, Satan. (Revelation 7:9, 15, 16) Therefore, even if you are dealing with a trial that does not ‘depart from you,’ you can be certain that Jehovah is aware of your struggle and that he has responded to “the sound of your outcry.” (Isaiah 30:19; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) Paul wrote: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:6, 7.
19. What are you determined to do, and why?
19 Granted, the present “last days” of this ungodly world are characterized by “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Even so, for servants of God, these times are not impossible to deal with. Why not? Because of the support and protection of God’s holy spirit, which Jehovah gives willingly and abundantly to all those who ask him for it with persistence and confidence. May we, therefore, be resolved to keep on praying for holy spirit every day.—Psalm 34:6; 1 John 5:14, 15.
How Would You Answer?
• What do we need to do to receive God’s holy spirit?
• Why can we be confident that Jehovah will respond to our prayers for holy spirit?
• How does the holy spirit help us to endure trials?
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What can we learn from Jesus’ illustration about the persistent host?
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Do you pray persistently for God’s holy spirit?
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What do we learn about Jehovah from the illustration of a caring father?