Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 12: Asking to Give
Based on Luke 11:1-13
Christ was continually receiving from the Father that
He might communicate to us. "The word which ye
hear," He said, "is not Mine, but the Father's which sent
Me." John 14:24. "The Son of man came not to be
ministered unto, but to minister." Matt. 20:28. Not for
Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed.
From hours spent with God He came forth morning by
morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He
received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early
hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His
slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with
grace, that He might impart to others. His words were
given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He
might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. "The
Lord God hath given Me," He said, "the tongue of the
learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season
to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning,
He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned." Isa. 50:4. [p. 140]
Christ's disciples were much impressed by His prayers
and by His habit of communion with God. One day after
a short absence from their Lord, they found Him absorbed
in supplication. Seeming unconscious of their presence, He
continued praying aloud. The hearts of the disciples were
deeply moved. As He ceased praying, they exclaimed,
"Lord, teach us to pray."
In answer, Christ repeated the Lord's prayer, as He
had given it in the sermon on the mount. Then in a
parable He illustrated the lesson He desired to teach them.
"Which of you," He said, "shall have a friend, and
shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend.
lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey
is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me
not; the door is now shut, and my children are with
me in bed: I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you,
Though he will not rise and give him because he is his
friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give
him as many as he needeth."
Here Christ represents the petitioner as asking that he
may give again. He must obtain the bread, else he cannot
supply the necessities of a weary, belated wayfarer.
Though his neighbor is unwilling to be troubled, he will
not desist his pleading; his friend must be relieved; and
at last his importunity is rewarded, his wants are supplied.
In like manner the disciples were to seek blessings from
God. In the feeding of the multitude and in the sermon
on the bread from heaven, Christ had opened to them their
work as His representatives. They were to give the bread
of life to the people. He who had appointed their work,
saw how often their faith would be tried. Often they would
be thrown into unexpected positions, and would realize [p. 141] their human insufficiency. Souls that were hungering for
the bread of life would come to them, and they would feel
themselves to be destitute and helpless. They must receive
spiritual food, or they would have nothing to impart. But
they were not to turn one soul away unfed. Christ directs
them to the source of supply. The man whose friend came
to him for entertainment, even at the unseasonable hour of
midnight, did not turn him away. He had nothing to set
before him, but he went to one who had food and pressed
his request until the neighbor supplied his need. And
would not God, who had sent His servants to feed the
hungry, supply their need for His own work?
But the selfish neighbor in the parable does not
represent the character of God. The lesson is drawn, not by
comparison, but by contrast. A selfish man will grant an
urgent request, in order to rid himself of one who disturbs
his rest. But God delights to give. He is full of compassion,
and He longs to grant the requests of those who come
unto Him in faith. He gives to us that we may minister
to others and thus become like Himself.
Christ declares, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek,
and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
The Saviour continues: "If a son shall ask bread of any
of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he
ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he
shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy
Spirit to them that ask Him?"
|A Child Asking for Bread.—Davis Collection.|
In order to strengthen our confidence in God, Christ
teaches us to address Him by a new name, a name entwined [p. 142] with the dearest associations of the human heart. He gives
us the privilege of calling the infinite God our Father. This
name, spoken to Him and of Him, is a sign of our love and
trust toward Him, and a pledge of His regard and relationship
to us. Spoken when asking His favor or blessing, it is
as music in His ears. That we might not think it presumption
to call Him by this name, He has repeated it again and
again. He desires us to become familiar with the appellation.
God regards us as His children. He has redeemed us
out of the careless world and has chosen us to become
members of the royal family, sons and daughters of the
heavenly King. He invites us to trust in Him with a trust
deeper and stronger than that of a child in his earthly
father. Parents love their children, but the love of God is
larger, broader, deeper, than human love can possibly be.
It is immeasurable. Then if earthly parents know how to
give good gifts to their children, how much more shall our
Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask
Christ's lessons in regard to prayer should be carefully
considered. There is a divine science in prayer, and His
illustration brings to view principles that all need to
understand. He shows what is the true spirit of prayer, He
teaches the necessity of perseverance in presenting our
requests to God, and assures us of His willingness to hear and
Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for
our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give. The
principle of Christ's life must be the principle of our lives.
"For their sakes," He said, speaking of His disciples, "I
sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified." John
17:19. The same devotion, the same self-sacrifice, the same
subjection to the claims of the word of God, that were
manifest in Christ, must be seen in His servants. Our
mission to the world is not to serve or please ourselves; we [p. 143] are to glorify God by co-operating with Him to save sinners.
We are to ask blessings from God that we may communicate to
others. The capacity for receiving is preserved
only by imparting. We cannot continue to receive heavenly
treasure without communicating to those around us.
In the parable the petitioner was again and again
repulsed, but he did not relinquish his purpose. So our
prayers do not always seem to receive an immediate answer;
but Christ teaches that we should not cease to pray. Prayer
is not to work any change in God; it is to bring us into
harmony with God. When we make request of Him, He
may see that it is necessary for us to search our hearts and
repent of sin. Therefore He takes us through test and trial,
He brings us through humiliation, that we may see what
hinders the working of His Holy Spirit through us.
There are conditions to the fulfillment of God's promises,
and prayer can never take the place of duty. "If ye love
Me," Christ says, "Keep My commandments." "He that
hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My
Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to
him." John 14:15, 21. Those who bring their petitions to
God, claiming His promise while they do not comply with
the conditions, insult Jehovah. They bring the name of
Christ as their authority for the fulfillment of the promise,
but they do not those things that would show faith in Christ
and love for Him.
Many are forfeiting the condition of acceptance with the
Father. We need to examine closely the deed of trust
wherewith we approach God. If we are disobedient, we
bring to the Lord a note to be cashed when we have not
fulfilled the conditions that would make it payable to us.
We present to God His promises, and ask Him to fulfill
them, when by so doing He would dishonor His own name. [p. 144]
The promise is "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide
in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto
you." John 15:7. And John declares: "Hereby we do
know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But
whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God
perfected." 1 John 2:3-5.
One of Christ's last commands to His disciples was
"Love one another as I have loved you." John 13:34. Do
we obey this command, or are we indulging sharp, unchristlike
traits of character? If we have in any way grieved or
wounded others, it is our duty to confess our fault and
seek for reconciliation. This is an essential preparation
that we may come before God in faith, to ask His blessing.
There is another matter too often neglected by those
who seek the Lord in prayer. Have you been honest with
God? By the prophet Malachi the Lord declares, "Even
from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine
ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and
I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye
said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet
ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed
Thee? In tithes and offerings." Mal. 3:7, 8.
As the Giver of every blessing, God claims a certain
portion of all we possess. This is His provision to sustain
the preaching of the gospel. And by making this return to
God, we are to show our appreciation of His gifts. But if
we withhold from Him that which is His own, how can we
claim His blessing? If we are unfaithful stewards of
earthly things, how can we expect Him to entrust us with
the things of heaven? It may be that here is the secret of
But the Lord in His great mercy is ready to forgive,
and He says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, [p. 145] that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now
herewith, . . . if I will not open you the windows of heaven,
and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room
enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer
for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of
your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before
the time in the field. . . . And all nations shall call you
blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord
of hosts." Mal. 3:10-12.
So it is with every other one of God's requirements.
All His gifts are promised on condition of obedience. God
has a heaven full of blessings for those who will co-operate
with Him. All who obey Him may with confidence claim
the fulfillment of His promises.
But we must show a firm, undeviating trust in God.
Often He delays to answer us in order to try our faith or
test the genuineness of our desire. Having asked according
to His word, we should believe His promise and press our
petitions with a determination that will not be denied.
God does not say, Ask once, and you shall receive. He
bids us ask. Unwearyingly persist in prayer. The persistent
asking brings the petitioner into a more earnest attitude,
and gives him an increased desire to receive the things for
which he asks. Christ said to Martha at the grave of
Lazarus, "If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the
glory of God." John 11:40.
But many have not a living faith. This is why they do
not see more of the power of God. Their weakness is the
result of their unbelief. They have more faith in their own
working than in the working of God for them. They take
themselves into their own keeping. They plan and devise,
but pray little, and have little real trust in God. They
think they have faith, but it is only the impulse of the
moment. Failing to realize their own need, or God's [p. 146] willingness to give, they do not persevere in keeping their
requests before the Lord.
Our prayers are to be as earnest and persistent as was
the petition of the needy friend who asked for the loaves at
midnight. The more earnestly and steadfastly we ask, the
closer will be our spiritual union with Christ. We shall
receive increased blessings because we have increased faith.
Our part is to pray and believe. Watch unto prayer.
Watch, and co-operate with the prayer-hearing God. Bear
in mind that "we are labourers together with God." I Cor.
3:9. Speak and act in harmony with your prayers. It will
make an infinite difference with you whether trial shall
prove your faith to be genuine, or show that your prayers
are only a form.
When perplexities arise, and difficulties confront you,
look not for help to humanity. Trust all with God. The
practice of telling our difficulties to others only makes us
weak, and brings no strength to them. It lays upon them
the burden of our spiritual infirmities, which they cannot
relieve. We seek the strength of erring, finite man, when
we might have the strength of the unerring, infinite God.
You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom,
for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess
or ever will have that will give you success. It is that
which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less
confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in
what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to
have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you
expect great things from Him. He longs to give you
understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters.
He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill.
Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it
will be given you.
Take the word of Christ as your assurance. Has He [p. 147] not invited you to come unto Him? Never allow yourself
to talk in a hopeless, discouraged way. If you do you will
lose much. By looking at appearances and complaining
when difficulties and pressure come, you give evidence of a
sickly, enfeebled faith. Talk and act as if your faith was
invincible. The Lord is rich in resources; He owns the
world. Look heavenward in faith. Look to Him who has
light and power and efficiency.
There is in genuine faith a buoyancy, a steadfastness of
principle, and a fixedness of purpose that neither time nor
toil can weaken. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait
upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount
up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa. 40:30, 31.
There are many who long to help others, but they feel
that they have no spiritual strength or light to impart. Let
them present their petitions at the throne of grace. Plead
for the Holy Spirit. God stands back of every promise He
has made. With your Bible in your hands say, I have
done as Thou hast said. I present Thy promise, "Ask, and
it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it
shall be opened unto you."
We must not only pray in Christ's name, but by the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This explains what is meant
when it is said that the Spirit "maketh intercession for us,
with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom. 8:26. Such
prayer God delights to answer. When with earnestness and
intensity we breathe a prayer in the name of Christ, there
is in that very intensity a pledge from God that He is about
to answer our prayer "exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think." Eph. 3:20.
Christ has said, "What things soever ye desire, when ye
pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." [p. 148] Mark 11:24. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that
will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
John 14:13. And the beloved John, under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, speaks with great plainness and
assurance: "If we ask anything according to His will, He
heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we
ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of
Him." I John 5:14, 15. Then press your petition to the
Father in the name of Jesus. God will honor that name.
The rainbow round about the throne is an assurance
that God is true, that in Him is no variableness, neither
shadow of turning. We have sinned against Him, and are
undeserving of His favor; yet He Himself has put into our
lips that most wonderful of pleas, "Do not abhor us, for
Thy name's sake; do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory;
remember, break not Thy covenant with us." Jer. 14:21.
When we come to him confessing our unworthiness and
sin, He has pledged Himself to give heed to our cry. The
honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His
word unto us.
Like Aaron, who symbolized Christ, our Saviour bears
the names of all His people on His heart in the holy place.
Our great High Priest remembers all the words by which
He has encouraged us to trust. He is ever mindful of
All who seek of Him shall find. All who knock will
have the door opened to them. The excuse will not be
made, Trouble Me not; the door is closed; I do not wish
to open it. Never will one be told, I cannot help you.
Those who beg at midnight for loaves to feed the hungry
souls will be successful.
In the parable, he who asks bread for the stranger,
receives "as many as he needeth." And in what measure
will God impart to us that we may impart to others? [p. 149] "According to the measure of the gift of Christ." Eph. 4:7.
Angels are watching with intense interest to see how man
is dealing with his fellow men. When they see one
manifest Christlike sympathy for the erring, they press to his
side and bring to his remembrance words to speak that will
be as the bread of life to the soul. So "God shall supply all
your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Phil. 4:19. Your testimony in its genuineness and reality
He will make powerful in the power of the life to come.
The word of the Lord will be in your mouth as truth
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copy of this enlightening book about the parables of Christ.
Personal effort for others should be preceded by much
secret prayer; for it requires great wisdom to understand
the science of saving souls. Before communicating with
men, commune with Christ. At the throne of heavenly
grace obtain a preparation for ministering to the people.
Let your heart break for the longing it has for God, for
the living God. The life of Christ has shown what humanity
can do by being partaker of the divine nature. All that
Christ received from God we too may have. Then ask
and receive. With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the
unyielding persistence of Elijah, claim for yourself all that
God has promised.
Let the glorious conceptions of God possess your mind.
Let your life be knit by hidden links to the life of Jesus.
He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness is
willing to shine in your heart, to give the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit will take the things of God and show
them unto you, conveying them as a living power into the
obedient heart. Christ will lead you to the threshold of
the Infinite. You may behold the glory beyond the veil,
and reveal to men the sufficiency of Him who ever liveth
to make intercession for us.
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