Parables on Prayer

7 March 2021 AM – Luke 11:1-13 – Parables21 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Years ago, E. M. Bounds wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.” An unknown person said, “Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside the will of God.”
            Like Jesus’ disciples, we need to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray!
Transition: In this section, Jesus used a pattern and two parables to teach us principles that we need to know about prayer.
  1. A Pattern for Prayer (v.1-4)
a.         Jesus, the perfect prayer teacher (v.1)
1)         The disciples had the privilege of hearing Jesus pray. After hearing God the Son talk to His Father in heaven, is it any wonder that the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray”?
2)         In the Scriptures, we read that Jesus prayed before meals (Mt 14:19); He prayed alone in the mountain (Mt 14:23); He was asked to pray for children (Mt 19:13); He got up early to pray (Mr 1:35); He prayed at His baptism (Lu 3:21); He prayed in the wilderness (Lu 5:16); He prayed alone (Lu 9:18); He prayed for His disciples (Jn 11:22; 14:16); He prayed in Gethsemane (Mt 26:36); He prayed for God’s will to be done (Mt 26:39,42); He could have prayed for angelic deliverance from the cross (Mt 26:53).
3)         The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is in John 17.
b.         Jesus’ pattern for prayer (v.2-4)
1)         Jesus did not give this prayer as one to memorise and recite. In fact, in Matthew 6:7 Jesus said, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” God does not want to hear you recite prayers. He wants you to talk to Him as you talk to a friend.
2)         Jesus gave us this model prayer to show us what we ought to include in our prayers.
a)         Respectfully address God.
b)         Desire God’s will not your own.
c)         Ask for our daily needs.
d)         Ask for forgiveness as we forgive.
e)         Ask God to keep us from temptation
f)          Ask Him to deliver us from wickedness
2.        A Persistence in Prayer (v.5-8)
a.         The friend at midnight parable
1)         Read the parable.
2)         In that culture, it was shameful not to be able to feed a guest. Having no food in the house when the guest arrived at midnight, the host went to his friend’s house and asked to borrow three loaves of bread. His friend said, “Trouble me not”. For him to get up would disturb his whole family. Though his friendship did not compel him to get up, the man’s importunity did.
3)         The word “importunity” literally means shamelessness. He was not ashamed to ask at his friend for help at midnight. He was not ashamed to awaken his friend. He was not ashamed to keep asking until he received the needed bread. In the context, the word does imply persistence, but the primary meaning is shamelessness.
4)         God tells us in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” God will never upbraid you. That means he will never reproach or scold you for asking. You can talk to God about anything!
b.         The application for us
1)         This parable is a contrasting not comparing. Jesus was not comparing God to a tired, stubborn neighbour. He is saying that God is far better than the tired, stubborn neighbour.
2)         Jesus was also teaching us that we need not be bashful or ashamed to ask God for our genuine needs. If our request meets scriptural requirements (i.e., God’s will, 1Jo 5:14-15; not for lust or wishes, Jas 4:2; from a clean heart, Ps 66:18; Isa 59:1-2; for things authorised by Christ, Joh 16:24; etc.), then God will answer when He knows the time is right. I challenge you to research hindrances to prayer.
3)         God’s will is not always our will and God’s timing is not always our timing.
3.        A Promise for Prayer (v.9-13)
a.         Here is what we should expect (v.9-10)
1)         When we ask, we expect to receive it.
2)         When we seek, we expect to find.
3)         When we knock, we expect that the door will open.
4)         Jesus said that these three are true of prayer as well.
5)         Sadly, if we honestly evaluate our prayers, often we ask selfishly for things that are greeds rather than needs. We ask for help to relieve a mess that we created. We ask without knowing if our request is God’s will. We ask for things that glorify us rather than glorifying God. We seek but have little faith that we will find. We knock but if the door does not immediately open, we quit knocking. We just do not pray enough.
b.         The son’s request parable (v.11-13)
1)         Read the parable.
2)         Though there are exceptions, most human fathers desire to meet the food needs of their children. They will not give something useless or harmful to a child who asks for food.
3)         Jesus applied this parable to God the Father. He said that if an evil father (i.e., one who is a sinner by nature) knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more shall the heavenly Father (who is holy by nature) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. To receive the Holy Spirit during the OT was a special privilege.
4)         This request for the Holy Spirit was before Christ’s cross during the Old Testament. At that time, the Holy Spirit only came upon special people for a special task. After the cross, and a brief transitional period after Pentecost, God now gives the Holy Spirit to every Christian at the moment of salvation. (Romans 8:9) “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
c.          The application for us
1)         What was Jesus teaching in this parable? He was teaching that God, who is far better than any human father, loves His children and desires to meet their genuine needs. He will never mock us by giving something harmful.
2)         If we have a genuine need, and we have met God’s prayer qualifications, we can ask God and expect to receive from Him.
3)         It is important for us always to pray as Jesus did saying, “Not my will but thine be done.” God always knows if our request is truly good for us and glorifying to Him. If it is not, surely, we should not wish that he grant it anyway. The Apostle Paul prayed three times about his thorn in the flesh, but cheerfully accepted God’s negative reply that was for his good. (2 Corinthians 12:9) “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Conclusion: How do you pray? Are your prayers little more than reciting words to the Lord? Do you pray the same prayers repeatedly without really thinking? Do you daily present all your needs to the Lord? Are there elements in Jesus’ model prayer that you need to add to your prayers? Do you find that you are ashamed to talk to the Lord about some of your needs? Have you stopped praying about something that you truly need just because God has not yet answered? Do you confidently expect God to give you what you really need when you ask? These are important questions to ask yourself.
            I need to work on my prayer time. There are things in the text that I need to work on. I have been asking God to teach me to pray. I challenge you to ask the same thing for yourself.
            If you do not personally know the Lord as your Saviour, you cannot truly pray to Him. I would be happy to talk to you about this.
Song: Teach Me to Pray – 346