Two Parables about Prayer
— Luke 11:1–13; 18:1–8 — Andrew Fountain: Nov 10, 2013
- Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
- So he said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, honoured be your name;
may your kingdom come.
- Give us each day our daily bread,
- and forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And do not lead us into temptation.”
- so this is very similar to what we call “The Lord’s prayer” in Matthew
- Jesus probably gave them this on several occasions during 3½ years (we should not be surprised)
- But then Jesus goes immediately into some teaching on prayer
Luke 11:1–13 cont’d
- Then he said to them, “Would any of you have a friend whom you went to at midnight and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
- because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’
- Who would reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’
- I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything out of friendship, yet the very boldness of the request will make him get up and give him all he needs.
- We often mis-read this parable (and many translations are confusing).
- Jesus is asking a question to which the answer it “No friend would ever refuse someone like that”
- The point is that if friends don’t refuse, how much more is God not going to refuse!
- It’s funny—At around 11:30 last night I was talking to Anne about what might be a modern day example of this
- At 12:27am God provided me with one!
- An message on my phone from my next-door neighbour!!
- Hey Andrew, I sort of remember that you might have a fancy machine that can jump start cars. One of the boys seems to have left the interior light on in my car, and now it won’t start. So I was wondering if I might borrow your machine...
- Actually I left it till the morning, but what if he said “I want it right now!” —would I have?
- of course (althought I might not have been totally happy)
- what if it was another neighbour whom I didn’t know?
- I would probably have helped him, even though it was irritating
Quote from Klyne Snodgrass
- Is God of such a character that he responds to prayers?
- The parable answers, “Of course!” Well beyond what a human might do, God will respond.
- Jesus’ conviction is that God is
- a God who eagerly hears the prayers of his people,
- is biased in their favour,
- and can be trusted to respond.
- The parable... is an invitation to pray...
- Surely if you would ask for and expect help from a neighbour, how much more should you seek and expect the help of God?
- What is God’s heart towards me?
- Ever forgotten your wallet and needed to borrow money?
- I was working at a client’s one day...
- How would you decide who to ask?
- If Jesus were here, would he be the first person you would ask?
- Have you ever done something really stupid and feel you can’t ask God to get you out of it
- This is what this parable is about
- The man must have felt really stupid and embarrassed
If humans sometimes respond even when there is no friendship—simply to a demand, even if it’s rude.
- how much more will God respond to his children
Luke 11:1–13 cont’d
- “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
- For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
- What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?
- Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
- If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give...
- This is a “how much more” argument
- What kind of a father would do that? —an evil father
- Have you ever asked for something and you wish you had never asked?
- It’s really about God’s heart—does he want to bless you? is he really for you?
- But the last phrase is surprising:
Luke 11:1–13 cont’d
- …the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
- How does this fit in to the logic? —it is the biggest possible gift he could give us—himself!
- Imagine present in a box, we open it up...
- It is interesting that:
Jesus often prayed at night
- And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone...
- And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.
- Why did Jesus have to pray?
- The central section of Luke is sometimes called “the travel narratives”
- At the start and end are two matching parables on prayer
- If the first parable has more of an ephasis on urgent needs,
- The second is about not giving up on things that may be more long-term
- Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.
- He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people.
- There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
- For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people,
- yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’ ”
- Again the argument is from the lesser to the greater
- If a human neighbour will help us in the middle of the night, how much more is God ready to help us
- If a wicked judge eventually answers, how much more will God hear our prayers
- And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says!
- Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them?
- I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”
Quote from Klyne Snodgrass
- The parable is not about persistence in praying or badgering God until we get our desires.
- Communicating the parable should concentrate on two primary areas:
- the character of God, who is not like the uncaring, unrighteous judge, but is merciful, patient, and eager to assist his people, and
- the necessity of staying alert and ready for God’s vindication and judgements.
- Does prayer change anything?
- Some people say it is about changing us, not God
- Prayer aligns us to God’s will
- So if you are praying for a job where you get treated better, by the end of the prayer time you are content with your present job.
- Is that what it’s about?
- No! Jesus never taught that.
- There is a mystery. God is sovereign, but our prayers are part of the plan
- “If God wants to bring revival, he gets people praying for it”
- Law of cause and effect
- Pray is part of the laws of the universe
- Prayer does change things!
- Praying without giving up
- Who has heard of the hymn “Amazing Grace”?
- Do you know who wrote it?
- John Newton’s mother’s prayers.
- Anna in Luke 2:36 didn’t give up praying for something like 65 years
- What happens when God does not seem to be answering?
- a number of years ago I was discouraged that God didn’t seem to be answering my prayers
- problem was that I would pick out 1 thing and just badger God, putting on pressure and arguing
- What if God is going to answer it, but not for 10 years?
- what happens to my prayer life in the meantime
- So I hit on a plan
Challenge for this week
- Pray about something small right now!
- Write down a list of 5–10 big prayers
Try to pray about them every day, but don’t try to put pressure on God
If one is answered, you can add another to replace it, but keep a record of the one answered
Be patient, but don’t give up
Updated on 2013-11-10 by Andrew Fountain