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. Boldness in prayer & a loving Father

PRAYING WITH BOLDNESS & THE RESPONSE OF A LOVING FATHER

 

Luke 11:5-13 (ESV) 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

Do you ever stop just to consider what an awesome reality prayer is? I mean as you are praying, as you seek the Lord through prayer, does it often break in upon your understanding that what is happening is you are conversing with God. You are as it were stationed at his throne.

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

That is where you are when you pray.  You are before the Lords throne. You are before a throne of grace. And there we are told you may and, indeed you will receive mercy, and find grace and help in time of need. Do you believe God when he tells us that real prayer is powerful in its effect?

James 5:16 (ESV) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Do you believe that? The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Did you ever stop to consider as you are praying that it is the very God who hears prayer and who answers prayer that has invited you to pray? Indeed, more than invited you to pray, He has commanded you to pray. Just stop and let it sink in. God says pray, and he is the one who is going to hear it. He is the one who is going to answer, He's the one who is going to work through it, and He says to you – now seek me.

I am afraid that sometimes many of us are, when it comes to the matter of prayer, we are towards prayer what one of Charles Spurgeon students was toward preaching. Spurgeon recounts this conversation that he had with one of the students. One of his students came to him and said. ‘I've been preaching now for some months and I do not think I've had a single conversion’. I said to him ‘did you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and save souls every time you open your mouth?’ ‘No Sir, he replied’. Well then I said, ‘that's why you do not get souls saved. if you believe the Lord would have given the blessing’. I caught him very nicely, but many others would have answered me in just the same way as he did. They tremblingly believe that is possible by some strange mysterious method that once in a 100 sermons God might win a quarter of a soul. They have hardly enough faith to keep them standing upright in their boots. How can they expect God to bless them? Then Spurgeon said this. I like to go to the pulpit  feeling this is God's word that I am going to deliver in his name, and it cannot return to Him void. I've asked His blessing upon it and He's bound to give it and His purposes will be answered whether my message is a saver of life unto life or death unto death, to those who hear it.’


So, Spurgeon believed that when he preached, there was no doubt that God's word was going to be affective. This is God's word and his going forth in God's name and his purposes will surely be accomplished.

 

Well that should be our attitude toward prayer. How can God make promises about prayer? How can God make these astounding statements about prayer, and then nothing comes from prayer? If we are sure that it is God who calls us to pray, if we are sure that he hears us and that he answers us then why aren't we praying? Why aren't we praying? Why are our prayer lives so anaemic? If we believe God's word about prayer, we are talking about refocusing the church. Perhaps there is no greater need in the life of the church outside of knowing who our Saviour is and being constantly re acquainted with Him. There is perhaps no greater need in the life of a church than to pray.

 

We are consistently and faithfully and boldly and believingly come to God's throne of grace for help because we need help, we need help in our lives individually, we need help in terms of ministry. We cannot do anything apart from Christ. So, we must be a praying church it we are to be a faithful church. We must be a praying church if we are to be powerfully used people.

 

So, this morning and in a few devotions, I want us to focus on the subject matter of prayer.

 

Now you will notice in verses one through four we have recorded for us what is come to be known as the model prayer, the disciple’s prayer. That has been our study now for more than a month. Jesus gave this because he was asked a question. Luke 11:1 (ESV) 1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”


Now that is what He does. He goes through this prayer that is a model, it is a teaching tool. It has to do with the mindset for proper prayer. It communicates to us the message the content that makes a proper prayer. It also has to do with the manner of prayer, the humility that should characterize our prayer life the realization we are in the presence of God who is our father ‘hallowed be your name’. So, there is a mindset a message the manner.

 

Now Luke gives us right after that a parable that Jesus told, a story that he told and an application that he gives.  And if the disciple’s prayer has to do with the mindset and the message and the manner for prayer, this parable, and the story the illustration, the application this has to do with the motivation for prayer. Christ is saying to us in effect, let me motivate you to pray. Let me give you a reason from your own experience why you should be bold and consistent and faithful an expectant.

 

When you pray, we capture this parable we capture the story and illustration the application under 2 main points.

 

Number one, we are going to talk about this. Effective prayer means recognizing the great willingness of God to receive us and to help us.

If your prayer life is going to be one that honours God, you must recognize God's great willingness. You must recognize His perfect willingness to receive you and to help you. In other words, God is willing. Then why are we so reluctant? God is willing, why are we so slow to pray? So that is the first thought. An effective prayer life requires that we recognize God's great willingness to receive us and help us.

Second, we are going to see this.

 

Effective prayer means recognizing the great goodness of God in the way that he receives us and helps us. He is willing and he is perfectly good he is willing, and he loves you, cares for you. So that his answers will always reflect that goodness, that love that wisdom, and that should motivate us to pray.

Let us begin with the parable as we begin with the first point.

 

Point 1. Effective prayer means recognizing the great willingness of God to receive us and help us.


Jesus says: “which of you who has a friend”. Just stop here for just a moment. I want to point something out. He begins with a question. He wants us to think about a question and though the main point of this parable is clear there has been a lot of debate about how to precisely understand it. Because for some interpreters it seems like Christ begins with the question and never really finishes. The question sort of runs into an answer. It is like the question has no end.

I do not believe that that is the right way to understand this. I believe the question is clear. I believe it runs from verse 5 down to the end of verse seven. Then Christ answers his own question in verse 8. So that is how we are going to read this and understand this. Luke 11:5-8 (ESV) 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” Let us stop there.

 

Here is the picture. You are fast asleep and like most if not all in your community in that day and age in that culture you are living in one room in your multi-functional house. There's one room in your house, and in this one room you do your cooking and in this one room you do you're living, in one room you are working and in this one room you the whole family sleeps. And the whole family sleeps on one mat. You roll out that mat at night, and everybody sleeps on it. Helps on cold nights by the way. Whole family sleeps on this mat, whole families sleeping in the same room. And there you are fast asleep, and it is midnight. I do not know about you but there are not many knocks at the door that I look forward to it at midnight. But at midnight there you arere fast asleep and you hear it. There is the knock, and you startle yourself, and of course because the whole family sleeping in one room everybody who is in that room is awake. The door that is on your house is bolted and it is not easy to open. Bottom line, it is not convenient. You open the door and there at the door is a friend. He has been journeying and this is not altogether unusual because it is a hot climate, it is hard to travel during the day. It was not unusual for pilgrims to travel at night. He has come to the end of his journey.

 

He has arrived at your house and he needs hospitality. He is trusting you to be able to sleep at your house and to be fed. But now we have a problem, because you realize that though you can gladly open your home up and have him sleep at your house you don't have enough bread right now in your house for a meal. You do not have anything to offer him. So, you are faced with a decision. You can either be a poor host and not offer him anything to eat, or say to him, he will have to wait until the morning, so he has to go to bed hungry, or knowing your community, and knowing who has prepared bread for the day, knowing of a neighbour who has some bread, you can leave your house and go to your neighbour’s house and knock on his door at midnight. You now involve your neighbour in the situation and ask him for bread. That is the picture.

 

You must remember something. You are living in a time in a culture where there is not much higher on the list of priorities in terms of virtue than being a good host. In fact you know this you can read some Old Testament accounts where people literally put themselves in danger, their families in danger, by protecting someone who would come under their roof to stay with them. So high on the list in his culture of honour is the idea of being a good host, being hospitable. The law of God taught that the people God would love the stranger, that they would care for the traveller, that they would care for those in need, that they would be a good neighbour.

 

Leviticus 19:18-19 (ESV) 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.”


So if you listen to the Lord you're going to love your neighbour as yourself, and you have a neighbour and he's arriving at your home at midnight and he's hungry and he's tired and the question is how are you going to take care of him? I said already that the question does not end until you get to the end of verse 7.

So, the question continues. And here is what to ask you. This happens, this man arrives at your door, it is midnight, you are awake, and he needs bread. So here is the question. Which of you has a friend will go to him at midnight and to say to him; ‘friend’ (you know a  friend and you know your friend has the bread you need) friend lend me 3 loaves. You are knocking on his door. Let's call my friend John. 'John, somebody is at my house and I need some bread. Lend me 3 loaves. A friend of mine is on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.'

 

Here is the question Jesus says. Can you envision your friend saying through the door, ‘do not bother me’? Now in John's case I can envision this alright. Do not bother me, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed, I cannot get up and give you anything. I ask the question. Can you envision your friend doing that? The assumed answer is no. You cannot envision that. Why?

 

And here's Christ’s answer. I tell you though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend. Mike will get up but not just because he is my friend at that moment. So why is he going to get up and do that. 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.”


Now there is where a big interpretive debate is in verse 8. The Greek word translated as impudence in verse 8. What does it mean? What complicates the matter is this is the only place the New Testament where this particular record is used, only place. So, it is not like we can look throughout the New Testament and ask how it used here, and how is it used there. This is all we have. It has been translated as result in several different ways. Anybody here this morning that has an American Standard version you will notice the word is ‘persistence’, ‘persistence’. I doubt that anyone here has a New English translation this morning but if you do, you will notice it would say ‘sheer persistence’. And so, they take the parable to really be teaching about persistence in prayer. And they envision the parable a little bit differently.

 

Their idea is that something has happened between verses 7 and 8. And that is the guy initially says go away, shoo I'm not getting up, and the friend who's at the door just keeps on keeps on. And they base it based upon verse 9. Luke 11:9 (ESV) 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”


Because what you have there are three present active imperatives. So, they would say the idea is keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. And so, they go back to the parable and say, well that is what Christ is picturing. Here is someone who kept, kept on at the door till finally the neighbour gets up and helps him.

 

I do not believe that is what it means.

 

Because number one you must assume sort of filling in the picture on the parable. Nowhere in the parable does it say he kept on at the door. It says he was there one time and had his request. In addition this particular Greek word: anaideia {an-ah'-ee-die-ah'} in the context of the culture actually means shamelessness, impudence boldness. All lexical evidence leads to that. There is no lexical evidence that this word is ever used for ‘persistence’.  All the lexicons are unanimous and that the word meant as used outside of scripture something along the lines of ‘shamelessness’ or ‘boldness’, or ‘insolence’. ‘audacity’, ‘lacking a sense of what is proper.

 

Now the result is, if you read the parable the way that I have read it to you this morning and believe we should read it. There are two ways to understand that word in verse 8.

 

One is the idea that even though this person now that you've had to disturb because you're wanting to meet a need, even though this person won't get up because he's your friend, he is going to get up this night and help you with whatever you need, because you have been bold enough to go to his door, and ask. If you hadn't gone you wouldn't have received anything, but because of this friend’s boldness, because of his sense of shamelessness, because he would rather be a disturbing neighbour than being a  poor host, because he's gone to the door the need will be met. That is one way to understand it.

 

A second way to understand it is this idea of shamelessness being on the part of the person who gets up to help his friend. The friend who has got the friend at the door. The second guy who's disturbed that is he will actually get up and help you not because you are a friend but,  but because he has this sense of, I don't want to be shameful, I don’t want to be ashamed,  I don't want to be the guy branded as the person who doesn't help his neighbour. So, it is not so much friendship that drives him, but he does not want to be shameful he does not want to fail this test. So, with the same sense of honour as the first man, he is willing to help the neighbour. These are the two possibilities.

 

Either way what is abundantly clear is that this traveller’s need is not met without someone going to the door and knocking on and asking for help.

 

How did Jesus apply this? Luke 11:9-10 (ESV) 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”


The Lord is taking us from the lesser to the greater. If a man would disturb a neighbour at midnight, because he has a real need, and he has the assurance within him, that no neighbour would refuse him even if he's going to be disturbing him, he's got confidence that my neighbour won't refuse him,  then why would we not come to God at any moment of any day and bring our needs before him, knowing that his willingness to help, his willingness to receive, his willingness to help is greater than any friend.

 

I can put it this way you never have to worry about inconveniencing God. You cannot disturb God you will never catch God at an inopportune moment. He is never sleeping at midnight, He has no trouble responding to you he has no problem dealing with all the problems of all the people in all possible scenarios, all at the same time.  And he is invited you through his son on this occasion to ask to seek, to knock with the promise that you will always find Him at the door. He answers and he will help you. And get this, and I think there is the significance of the present imperatives. Keep on doing this. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, constantly. In fact, you are commanded to keep on doing it. So, He compare the willingness of a neighbour in a culture where you are sure he's going to help me, with the greater willingness of God the greater faithfulness of God he will not turn you away. So why are we not praying, knowing the willingness of Gods to receive you and help you. Why aren't you praying?

 

We will stop here today and continue with the second point tomorrow in devotions.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria.