Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Prevailing Prayer for the Spirit’s Power
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
Prevailing Prayer for the Spirit’s Power
Jesus continues his teaching on prayer with a parable to motivate us to freely and boldly approach God in prayer. This parable is meant to teach us to not be hesitant in approaching God but to boldly and shamelessly approach God because God is not only our king but he is also our father.
1. God is inviting me to pray boldly and shamelessly (5-8)
Jesus starts with a question, ‘Who would go to a neighbor at midnight and wake him up to get some bread for an unexpected visitor?’ The answer is no one wants to be in an awkward situation like that.
Let me give you some insight into the Ancient Near East. It was common to travel at night to avoid the heat of the day. Bread was made daily so it would not get stale in the desert heat. It was custom in that day that house doors would open in the morning and remain open all day. If the door was shut, it was a sign that the householder did not wish to be disturbed. A poorer Palestinian house consisted of one room with one little window. In one corner a stove burned all night with the family huddled around it sleeping on mats to keep warm. On top of that, it was common to bring their animals and livestock into the house at night. For the friend to get up would wake up both the family and the animals. Yet the one seeking bread was not deterred. He kept on asking; he kept on seeking; he kept on knocking. Because of the boldness and the shamelessness of the one asking, the friend gives him what he needs. The word translated boldness or persistence means boldness over a long period of time but it also means shameless, almost audacious. Think about the situation. It is not acceptable to knock on the neighbor’s door when it is shut, it is in the middle of the night, the whole house will wake up yet the guy won’t give up. The point is that the one who is bold and shameless in approaching God is the one who will get answers to prayer.
2. God is inviting me to pray persistently (9-10)
Jesus drives home his point. He gives them three commands: keeping asking and you will receive, keep seeking and you will find, keep knocking, and the door will be opened. The first, ask, is an invitation to pray. He is inviting us to pray when we do not have the resources for ministry. James tells us that we do not have because we do not ask; we have to ask to receive. His point is that since this man asked his reluctant neighbor and received you can be sure that when you ask God, who is generous and gracious and loving, you will receive. The second command, seek, is an invitation to seek God and his kingdom. This word is commonly used of seeking God. The thought is that if you will seek God you will find him and he will pour out his blessing on you. Seek and do not give up. The third word, knock, is an invitation to gain entrance into God’s presence. It is an invitation to come into God’s presence. All three words are present active commands, meaning we are to continue asking, to continue seeking, and to continue knocking.
3. God is inviting me to pray expectantly (11-13)
Jesus not only invites us to pray boldly and shamelessly; he not only invites us to pray persistently; Jesus also invites us to pray expectantly. ‘If earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will God give you good gifts to those who ask.’ Father God, who is loving and gracious, only gives good gifts. Jesus is challenging us to be 'believing believers' or faith filled followers of Christ. This whole passage is to get us to be radical prayers. It is to get us to pray shamelessly, persistently and expectantly. Last week we saw that God the Father finds great pleasure in giving us the kingdom. Do you live with the expectation that your Father loves to give you the kingdom? Don’t just pray once and give up or don’t just pray and be passive. Too often we are waiting for an answer and God is waiting for us to act to answer our prayers. Pray and go for it, believing God will answer you.
So how do we live with expectancy in prayer that Jesus gives us here and deal with unanswered prayer? One reason is that our heavenly Father only gives good gifts. If our child asks us for something that is not good for them will we give it to them? I hope not. Sometimes God delays because it is not good for us now; or he says no because he wants to give us something better.