Summary: In two parables with the same storyline, Jesus taught us to keep praying and never give up.
Good morning. As we continue our series on the power of prayer, we are going to look at two of Jesus’ parables on prayer. They are both in Luke, and they are separated by just a few chapters. So please turn to Luke 11, but be ready to flip to Luke 18.
There’s a supposedly true story of a country woman who was the last in the county to get wired for electricity. So she calls the electric company, pays all the fees, and they come out and has power installed in her home. However, after a couple of months, the electric company noticed she didn’t seem to use very much electricity at all.
Thinking there might be a problem with the hookup, they sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, "We’ve just checked your meter and it doesn’t seem that you’re using much electricity. Is there a problem?" "Oh no" she said. "We’re quite satisfied. We turn on the electric lights every night so we can see to light our lamps and then we switch them off again."
Now, why didn’t this woman make more use of her electricity? She believed in electricity. She believed the promises of the electric company when they told her about it. She went to a great deal of trouble and expense to have her house wired for it. But she never made the most of the power she had access to.
I suspect there are people who do the same thing with prayer. They believe in prayer. They know of the promises God has made. They’ve even read and heard stories about answered prayers. BUT they use prayer’s power sparingly…
Maybe they don’t understand how prayer works. But unless you are an electrical engineer, you don't really understand how electricity works either. But that shouldn't keep you from flipping a switch.
Or maybe they don't understand how God's sovereignty and authority work. Maybe they think it doesn’t really matter whether they pray or not. They say to themselves, “Well, God’s sovereign. He's gonna do what God’s gonna do anyway – so why bother!? But if that's the case, you're kind of arguing against yourself. Because the sovereign God has told us to pray, and He has absolute authority!
But I'm afraid most of us treat prayer like the woman on the farm who just turned the lights on long enough to light her oil lamps. We use prayer as a supplement to their own efforts. But in our heart of hearts, we don’t view prayer as making that big an impact on the decisions we make every day.
I think that’s why Jesus told the parables we are looking at this morning. In Luke 11:1, Jesus' disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. Did you know this is the only time in the entire Gospels when the disciples explicitly asked the greatest teacher who ever lived to teach them something? And I love that they didn't say, "Teach us to walk on water--because that was really cool." Or, "teach us how to fundraise. Because that's really going to come in handy for a lot of pastors in the future. No, they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. And in response, Jesus told them this parable, and then a little while later the second parable we are going to look at.
If you are physically able, please stand to honor the reading of God’s Word. Now, normally I use the English Standard Version when I preach, but today I’m using the New International Version, and I’ll tell you why in a bit. Here’s the first parable: Luke 11:5-13:
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”