Summary: As we’ve seen over the previous weeks, Jesus has been stirring His church worldwide to renew themselves in the passion and priority of prayer. • He’s been making clear that there is no element of a Christian’s energy or activity that can substitute for
As we’ve seen over the previous weeks, Jesus has been stirring His church worldwide to renew themselves in the passion and priority of prayer.
• He’s been making clear that there is no element of a Christian’s energy or activity that can substitute for depending on God’s power through prayer.
• When Jesus said that His Father’s house was to be a “house of prayer”, he made clear that neither worship…teaching…fellowship…outreach… nor any program can substitute for depending on the power of God in prayer.
• We see this priority and passion in those first disciples of Christ:
Acts 1:14 “They all joined constantly in prayer.”
Col. 4:2 The apostle Paul extorts the new church, “Devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.”
Phil. 4:5-6 “The Lord is near. (So) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything…present your requests to God.
Eph. 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,…Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
There are two central instructions regarding prayer noted by the two key words: “all” and “continually”.
This morning, I want to address one final aspect about prayer that flows from those words…. and that is perseverance.
This coming year, we want to bring more and more to God in prayer and to do so consistently. God has prompted us to lay this work of prayer in a 3-fold fashion:
1.) Daily, each day of the year we will all pray for one individual…
2.) Weekly, power of presence; praying ‘onsite with insight’ and with the compassion that comes with presence.
3.) Monthly, a day of fasting.
Towards that end I want o address the nature of persevering in prayer. So often many of us have begun to turn to God in prayer, only to find ourselves quieting or quitting the process early on in our pursuit.
A teenager had decided to quit high school, saying he was just fed up with it all. His father was trying to convince him to stay with it.
“Son”, he said, “you just can’t quit. All the people who are remembered in history didn’t quit. Abe Lincoln, he didn’t quit; Thomas Edison, he didn’t quit; Douglas MacArthur, he didn’t quit; Elmo McCringle…”
“Who,” the son burst in, “Who’s Elmo McCringle?”
“See,” the father replied, “you don’t remember him…. because Elmo quit!”
We live in “instant” times… As a result, we often have little ability to appreciate God’s time-frame and there is little appeal for persisting according to spiritual dynamics.
But Jesus teaches us something: Jesus, in coming from heaven, reveals where heaven stands on the issue; by telling us about His Father’s heart for the persevering… That is what we find here in Luke 11:5-10. The disciples had come upon Christ in prayer, and asked Him to teach them to pray. After offering what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer as an example, he continues,
“Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you ; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The scene that Jesus described was far from foreign in this 1st century context. As William Berclay describes:
“Travelers often journeyed late in the evening to avoid the heat of the midday sun. In Jesus’ story just such a traveler had arrived towards midnight at this friends house. In the east hospitality is a sacred duty; it was not enough to set before a man a bare sufficiency; the guest had to be confronted with an ample abundance. In the villages bread was baked at home. Only enough for the day’s needs was baked because, if it was kept and became stale, no one would wish to eat it.
The late arrival of the traveler confronted the householder with an embarrassing situation, because his larder was empty and he could not fulfill the sacred obligations of hospitality. Late as it was, he went out to borrow from a friend. The friend’s door was shut. In the east no one would knock on a shut door unless the need was imperative. In the morning the door opened and remained open all day, for there was little privacy; but if the door was shut, that was a definite sign that the householder did not wish to be disturbed. But the seeking householder was not deterred. He knocked, and kept on knocking.