Persistent Prayer

Scripture: Luke 11:5-13, NLT

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Introduction

The story Jesus uses is hypothetical, “suppose” you went [v.5]. Hospitality was practically demanded in ancient Eastern society and travel into late evening was very common due to the heat. Jesus hearers had seen this very story enacted before; it was not a rare occurrence in the Middle East. Bread was baked daily; they had no additives or preservatives. So the picture Jesus paints is very common. Most of the peasant population lived in one room houses where the door stayed open during the day [light]. These houses had only one window. The family slept in the same room on mats. The houses were made of stone and mortar and the doors were made of wood. Getting the family bed down for the night was a chore and when someone starts beating on your shut door, it creates a problem. The man has to get up, crawl over bodies to answer the door, then to get bread, he has to have a light and before you know it, the whole house hold is awake. For a neighbor to bang on your door after bed time was a huge inconvenience.  Yet, this surly neighbor got up and got the bread because the petitioner would not stop beating on the door.

God is not like the neighbor.  The message is in the contrast, not the likeness.

#1

OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS NEVER INCONVENIENCED BY OUR PETITIONS

The unhappy neighbor was in the bed. In the ancient east, peasants lived in one room houses. The middle class had two at best; only the rich lived in houses with multiple rooms. These little one room house had one door and one window. The door was open during the day for added light and closed and bolted at night. The house were made of mud and stone and the doors were made of wood.

The family slept in the same room on mats. Getting the family bed down for the night was a chore and when someone starts beating on your shut door, it creates a problem. The man has to get up, crawl over bodies to answer the door, then to get bread, he has to have a light and before you know it, the whole house hold is awake. For a neighbor to bang on your door after bed time was a huge inconvenience.  Yet, this surly neighbor got up and got the bread because the petitioner would not stop beating on the door.

A shut door meant bed time: do not disturb. The neighbor had labored to get all his children down for the night. He did not want them awakened. It was not a good time for someone to beat on your door asking for bread. The bread was not the problem, it was the inconvenience of the moment.

God is never at an inconvenience, never. He never slumbers or sleeps. He doesn’t even take naps. He doesn’t need rest like you and I need rest. One of our major problems in in our thinking. How many petitions have you made to God this week. Take out a piece of paper and write down five distinct things you have asked God for this week. Then lift your hand when you get to five. Wow! There are more than 200 adults and young people in this room and we asked God for nothing this past week. You talk about a group that has it all together, that would be us. God has nothing we need.

Well, that is an hyperbole, we actually have great need but we don’t ask. The reason we don’t have is we don’t ask. One of the reasons we don’t ask is that our mind is all fouled up, we are not thinking properly. Look at me, now look at verse 9…“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Jesus said imperatively, “Ask and keep on asking.” For you and I not to ask is an act of disobedience. We are not putting our heavenly Father out by asking. It is no inconvenience for us to knock on His door anytime day our night.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to asks: He commands us to ask.

#2

THE NEIGHBOR GAVE BUT RELUCTANTLY: OUR FATHER IS NEVER RELUCTANT TO GIVE

I am an earthy father and I love to give to my children. Even though I am depraved and battle sin every day of my life, I will not give my children something that will hurt them. In Jesus day, people ate eels which are considered fish but they look like a snake. You could trick a child who was asking for a fish dinner, by giving them a snake. The scorpions of the Middle East could roll up in to a ball and look like an egg but what kind of father would give a deadly scorpion to a child who was asking for an egg. If we earthly fathers love to give, think how much more the Heavenly Father loves to give.

This story is not about you and I overcoming God’s reluctance. It is this kind of thinking that has us where we are today. God loves to give. The problem is not God’s reluctance to give, it’s our reluctance to ask. A lot of people came to Jesus begging and you look at the response. Jesus responded to those who desperately begged. Whether you beg or simply ask, the main thing is that you ask. You are not trying to overcome God’s reluctance; you are asking for what you need and He wants to respond and He will, just like Jesus.

#3

OUR FATHER IS NOT LIMITED IN RESOURCES

The neighbor got up and gave him bread because the man was shamelessly persistent. The man had bread to give but he could not give forgiveness, peace, joy or eternal like. We humans can give a lot including our life but we are limited in our resources, we cannot give men all they need or what they need most.

I was in two homes yesterday were families were in deep sorrow and in both cases, it was the matriarch who was on her death bed. It is tough to lose your mother. We rarely are ready to give them up although prolonged suffering does tend to make it a little easier. I prayed before I left home and I prayed as I turned into each drive. These families are hurting and what can I do? It’s not like I am Jesus or some miracle worker. I am as helpless and impotent as the next man. So why do I go? I go as an ambassador for Christ, a human representative. I am there  simply to remind them that God is present in their crisis. I am to give them a sense of God’s presence but I am not the real thing, only an envoy or a reminder. If God sent me, they will know and understand that He cares.

Ministry forces all of us to face our limitation. We are not what people need and we can’t fix their problems. We can only point them to Jesus

#4

THE FATHER NEVER GIVES WITH THE WRONG MOTIVE

The man in Jesus illustration got up and gave but he didn’t want to, his heart was not in it. He gave begrudgingly. He wanted the man to go away and leave him a lone. His logic was simple: If I don’t get up and give him the bread, he will wake up the entire house. He gave to get rid of him.

I have to admit, a lot of my giving is for the wrong reason. I have given before when my heart was not in it. I have given under compulsion, begrudgingly and to get rid of people. God is not like this neighbor and He is not like me. You cannot hoodwink God. He knows exactly what your intentions are. You can’t pressure Him to give. God gives when he chooses to, when it is wise to and always because He wants to…God loves to give.

There are things right now, as I speak, that God wills to give you if you would only ask. What things you ask? Look at verse 13… “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

CONCLUSION

  1. Have you ask the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit today? [be honest]
  2. What’s the problem? God’s reluctance or yours?
  3. Do you think that a person who refuses to pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit should be a leader in the body of Christ? What is the opposite of being filled with the Spirit? To be filled with self.

Today, I am going to challenge you, especially leaders to come to the altar and

  1. Repent for your inconsistency in prayer. Make an apology to God for not taking Him as His word. He commands us to ask. Tell Him you are sorry for not trusting Him, taking Him at His word.
  2. Ask Him [not me] to fill you with His Spirit. His Spirit will give us the wisdom we need to follow His will.

 

 

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