Summary: A sermon for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost about Prayer
8th Sunday after Pentecost
"A Dialogue with God"
Charles Spurgeon the famous British preacher told the following story concerning the power of prayer in one’s life. As Spurgeon was walking down the sidewalk he heard a young man swearing and using God’s name in vain. Walking up to the man, he touched the man on the arm and said, "Can you pray as well as you can swear?"
The young man laughed and with a superior air declared that he never indulged in anything so useless as praying. Holding up a coin of considerable worth, Mr. Spurgeon said, "I will give you this coin if you will promise me never to pray."
Irreverently, the young man grabbed the coin thrust it in his pocket and went of chuckling to himself. As the day wore on, however, he began to feel uneasy. Never to pray?? Never?? Perhaps he had made a bad bargain, for he might want to call upon God some day if he should come to an urgent need. The more he thought of it, the more he became convinced that he had sold something very precious. He arrived home that evening and told his wife of the transaction and she was horrified.
"It is true we don’t pray?" she said, "but some day we may want to."
Talking it over a bit more the worried couple decided to see if they could find the one who had given the coin and had extracted such a promise.
Mr. Spurgeon, who had been hoping for just such a reaction was soon located. Seeing their interest, he began to talk with them about Christ and soon had two new converts.
This story raise some questions for us this morning. Has prayer become such a taken for granted part of our Christian life, that we forget the great worth it truly is? Would you sell your privilege to pray for a valuable coin? After these questions have been asked, we can still ask more about prayer. Is prayer only used when we went to extract something from God? Is prayer used only like an ambulance in an emergency? Do you see Cod as someone whom you can bargain with when it comes to a prayer request?
As you can tell by now, this sermon and our lessons from the Hebrew scriptures and from Luke’s gospel concern prayer. Now as we talk about prayer this morning, it could take hours, even days to exhaust, to answer, to think about all the different parts of prayer. We aren’t going to do that rest assured. But what I would like to do, is to look at this parable concerning prayer in our gospel lesson and look at Abraham as an example of how someone ought to pray.
We need to set the scene to understand this lesson to its fullest. Jesus was alone praying as was his custom, when one of his disciples comes to him and asks him to teach them to pray. Jesus then teaches them what has become known to us as the Lord’s prayer. Notice this version in Luke’s gospel is different than the one in Matthew’s but taken together they form the Lord’s Prayer as we have come to know it.
But notice, Jesus doesn’t stop with this prayer. He goes on to tell them the parable about the man who needed some bread for a late night guest. Somehow Jesus knew that the disciples as they heard this prayer would latch on to this idea of daily bread. This parable is more than a parable about being persistent in prayer, but it is according to the commentator Lenski, it is an encouragement, a strong encouragement to pray period.
Let nothing deter us from prayer, and the encouragement lies in the implied promise that in prayer one will receive an answer even as Jesus states explicitly in verse 9, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." These three verbs should be taken together. Our asking should he at once a seeking and both at once a knocking and also the reverse: when you ask, seek, and when you seek, go and knock. The promise is, it shall be given to you. The heart of the parable lies in that promise, it shall be given to you. It shall be given to you, and then Jesus goes on to explain that if a father would want to give good gifts to his son when he ask, then truly the heavenly father will give good gifts to those who ask, seek and knock.
But notice the outcome of prayer for Jesus?? Notice where he ends up this discussion about prayer, Jesus ends this discussion concerning prayer with the Holy Spirit. Because for Jesus prayer was and is a relationship, a dialogue, a communication, a personal contact with God, with God’s person hood, with God himself in the Holy Spirit. Jesus begins speaking about a nightly visitor, about bread, about common things, he ends up with gift of most worth, God himself through the spirit. What is thrust into our hearts and hands as we seek and knock and ask at the door of God is nothing else than God himself through the Holy Spirit. What more could we hope and dream for, but to have the spirit of God dwelling in our hearts.