Two teams are away from this morning: middle school students are in St. Louis area doing door to door canvassing and block parties. Second team is in Vancouver at the Point Church – our church’s flagship church plant. Let’s celebrate the people there and pray for them together.
Today, we put a bow on the series, Eleven Two: We Pray. He Moves. This prayer has such a profound significance for believers both historically (more on this later) but also in our day as well. The prayer unites Christians from around the globe: Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants like us. Literally, millions of people around the globe recite the Lord’s Prayer during worship each week.
Before we get started, allow me to remind you the two reasons for this series…
Why This Series?
1) I want to help you develop a powerful prayer life. I’m calling on all of us who believe in Christ to turn up the volume & intensity of our prayer life. 2) I want to encourage you by showing you that God hears prayer. And more than anything, that’s what today’s message is about – God hears prayer. As one person had said, “When I pray, things happen, and when I don't pray, they don’t.”
Every single week we’ve been looking at the different phrases of the Lord’s Prayer. And it’s been a time of growth in the life of our church. Many of you have expanded your prayer life in significant ways. Parents have told me how they witnessed their kids reciting the Lord’s Prayer to one another in the backyard. My prayer life has changed.
And while Danny officially wrapped up the last line of the Lord’s Prayer with you last week by talking about temptation…. … Jesus has one more thing He wants to teach us on prayer. Right after He spoke the words of His prayer to His followers, Jesus told a story about prayer that you need to hear.
But before we get to Jesus’ story, here’s a quick Sermon Preview
6 Gifts inside the Lord’s Prayer
One Big Point: Pray with Audacity because God Hears Your Prayers
I’ll Finish Up with Three Takeaways
The Six Gifts of The Lord’s Prayer
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4)
A quick look back at this series and the Lord’s Prayer to see what Jesus has taught us.
1. You’re Given Confidence
If Jesus shows you how to pray, then you can be confident your prayer is heard. Watch this: the Lord’s Prayer is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon in history. In the middle of this famous sermon Jesus speaks on prayer. Now let’s put it together: Here is the greatest sermon given by the greatest Teacher on one the greatest subjects. How much more confidence can you have in praying?
2. You’re Given a New Identity
And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father…” (Luke 11:2). What’s your identity? Who are you? Some who haven’t had a Father, or at least one you can be proud of. Now you have a Father because of your trust in death of Jesus Christ. You’re His adopted child and now He’s your Father. When you believe and make a conscious decision to place your personal trust in Jesus Christ, God the Father becomes your Father. You have a new identity. Will you trust in Christ today?
3. You’re Given Access
This is very close to the gift of identity but I want to make sure you see it. “Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9). If you are the president or the king or the queen of the greatest country in the world, who gets in to see you? Only the most accomplished people, only the most powerful people and only the most important people. People who win the Super Bowl maybe get to see you for fifteen minutes. In other words, you only see the most accomplished, the most important. And then there’s your 6-year-old little girl at 2:00 a.m., without an appointment. Why? Because your relationship to your child isn’t conditioned. It doesn’t matter about their performance or their accomplishments or how many PhDs they have. It doesn’t matter at all. All of this comes when we are adopted into God’s family. You’re given access because you’ve been adopted into the family because of your trust in Jesus Christ. Will you trust in Christ as your Savior today?
1. You’re Given Confidence
2. You’re Given a New Identity
3. You’re Given Access
4. You’re Given Purpose
Through Jesus’ prayer, we are given purpose and meaning for living. God has chosen to make much of the world work through prayer. “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't pray, they don’t.”
5. You’re Given a Family
We are not to pray “My Father in Heaven,” but “Our Father in heaven…” This prayer reminds us that we are part of large family of believers. Ancient believers were only allowed to recite the Lord’s Prayer when they were fully recognized members of the early church. Following their baptism and after their first communion, then and only then were they allowed to say what was known as the “disciples’ prayer.” So even when we pray this isolated and alone, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we know we have a family of believers. We are all in this together. We care for one another and love another. Whether is in the challenge of loss of a job, financial worries, or health concerns, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we’re reminded of our family. Many Christians are changing their social media avatars to the Arabic letter “n”. By doing this, these believing brothers and sisters are reminding us to pray for believers in Iraq who are being driven from their homes by Islamic militants. The letter “N” is for Nazarene because believers places follow Jesus of Nazareth. The letter “N” is placed on the homes of known believers. Remember to pray for them, will you?
You’re not in this fight alone; you’re given a family.
6. You’re Given Boldness
When we pray, we are effectively saying, “I can’t do this. Only you can do it, Lord.” He will answer you, so pray with boldness. There they are, the six gifts given to us in the Lord’s Prayer. Here they are again: Confidence, Identity, Access, Purpose, Family, & Boldness
Transition to Today’s Story
Like any great communicator, Jesus loves to tell stories. And as He finishes up teaching on prayer, He tells us a story to teach us one more thing on the important topic of prayer.
Today’s Big Idea: Pray with Audacity
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13)
Jesus tells a peculiar story about a man knocking on his neighbor’s door at midnight followed by a question about a father giving his son a serpent when he asks for a fish. Jesus is still teaching us about prayer. And watch this carefully about Jesus’ stories: both the boy and the neighbor get what they asked for. Both received answers to their requests – the neighbor received bread and the boy received a fish. Jesus wants you to be assured that God will answer your prayer. But for many of us, this isn’t our experience when we pray. We pray like the teenage boy who starts to call a girl for his first date; we hang up the phone before she has time to answer. We pray like the man who rings the door but runs away before anyone has the opportunity to come to the door.
Look at the story again and specifically the word “impudence” (pronounced “im pew dence”) in verse eight is an odd word. I cannot remember hearing it before reading this passage and I have difficulty even pronouncing it correctly. You need to know that the word “impudence” combines elements of shamelessness and boldness. This is only time this word is used in all of the Bible and it has the meaning of someone who lacks sensitivity to what is proper. You keep asking when other people know better. Jesus begins His story with a question where He says in effect: “Do you have the nerve?” Jesus wants you to copy this man’s shameless boldness in how you ask God…
Let’s dig in and see the story. A friend shows up at your home and you have nothing to feed him. Three Knots to Effectively Understand Jesus’ Story
1. No Electricity
Remember that Jesus is telling this story before the invention of electricity. Midnight is really midnight in our story. People wouldn’t stay up watching late night TV or reading a good mystery book. Everyone was fast asleep when the lights when out.
2. Most Houses Had One Room Only
If this was in our time, you might know which window to knock on to wake Traci and I up in our bedroom. But in ancient times the entire family is sleeping on one mat. So when you woke one person up, everyone’s up. And did he even have small farm animals inside the home as well? Perhaps. Do you see this? When the husband woke up, everyone woke up? Imagine the glassy stare your neighbor and his wife gives you the next morning.
1. No Electricity
2. The House Had One Room Only
3. Hospitality Was a Big Deal
You have a dilemma on your hands. Hospitality is a big deal in Jesus’ day. When you think to yourself, “I’m just going to have to tell my out-of-town guests that we don’t have anything to feed them,” then you don’t understand how big a deal it is to be hospitable in Jesus’ day. People have shown up at your door and you don’t have anything to give them to eat. “and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?” (Luke 11:7)
Jesus wants you to contrast the pesky neighbor who doesn’t want to be bothered … … to the goodness and generosity of God who asks to be bothered. The man in his cozy bed yells from his floor mat, “You’re bothering us. Go away!” And you boldly knock and plead anyway. You are looking through windows to see who’s up. You say, “I see you in there!” You ask boldly and without shame.
Jesus says copy this man’s boldness: “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:8). If irritable, grouchy friend take of your needs, how much more will a generous and loving Father give you want you need. Jesus wants you to copy this man’s shamelessness. Jesus’ point is on the very audacity to ask in the first place. The gall to wake everyone up. It’s takes audacity to ask at midnight.
Three Takeaways on How You Should Pray
1. Bother God
Think Star Trek: “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” We might think that God is so perfect that we shouldn’t bother Him? We see God pictured in the Bible as one who is constantly surrounded by angels who sing His praises and think… If God is busy with keeping the planets in place… I have no business bothering Him!
Go boldly where no man has gone before. God is approachable. God isn’t too great nor is He too distant that you can’t speak to Him. God has no posse protecting Him from unwanted people. God has no secretary who answers His phones. Look again at Jesus’ command: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:10). There are three verbs in this verse and each one increases in intensity. Don’t ring God’s doorbell and run away before He answers. Don’t call God on the phone and hang up in disinterest before He picks up the phone. Jesus is telling us to Bother God. Shamelessly and boldly ask God when other people know better than to ask.
2. Ask for the Moon
Let’s imagine a conversation between Jesus and you. Jesus says to you, “I want you to ask Me for the stars. Ask Me for the moon itself.” You say, “What?” Jesus: “Ask for the stars. Ask for the moon. Imagine the greatest thing you could ask Me for and ask away. My Father listens to your prayer. Go to Him with big ambition. This is too good to be true? Jesus says, “Pray for the moon, ask God to give you the desires of your heart. This is too good to be true? You: “God doesn’t work this way!”
Note: Summarize the story of Mary & Martha – don’t read it. Right before Jesus teaches on prayer, Luke gives us an example of Jesus turning a prayer down. Do you know why He turned down Martha? Because Martha asked for a scorpion. Watch this important truth about prayer: Your Father gives you what you would have asked for it you knew everything He knows. Repeat: Your Father gives you what you would have asked for it you knew everything He knows. The reason you’re uncomfortable asking for the moon, is that you’re thinking of money, comfort and ease. Jesus says: “Martha, the reason you’re miserable isn’t because Mary isn’t helping you. It’s because you’ve made stuff too important.” “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13)! Jesus tells us that when the Father sees something that is for our good, He will give it to us. Jesus: “You’re asking for a scorpion and I don’t give me children scorpions.” So dream big and ask for the moon and the stars.
3. Why Aren’t You Asking?
A prayerless Christian is like a bus driver trying alone to push his bus out of a rut because he doesn’t know Clark Kent is on board. A prayerless Christian is like having your room wallpapered with Saks Fifth Avenue gift certificates but always shopping at Goodwill simply because you can’t read. God’s answers to your prayer can come before you finish your prayer: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). We read where the when the prophet Daniel was praying, an angel showed up to comfort him before he had said, “Amen”:
“while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved” (Daniel 9:21-23a).
God is very much like a runner at a track and field event, waiting for the starting pistol to fire. God is eager to hear your prayer and to answer your prayer. So dive in! Ask God for the moon. Ask Him for the stars.