Summary: Prayer is our communication line to God. Let us keep it always open, operative, and if possible, busy. God is very eager to respond to our prayers more than we are eager to receive the answer of our prayers.
Attitudes of Prayer
Luke 11: 5-13
Note: Some materials of this sermon are taken from sermoncentral.com
This morning we will examine the parable which is commonly called: “The Friend at Midnight.” Jesus gave this parable to His disciples after giving them the model prayer in response to their request that He would teach them how to pray. It is clear that our Lord gave this parable to His disciples to give them further instruction on prayer. It seems that the disciples needed not just to have a pattern of prayer but also to know the proper attitudes of prayer. In this parable, the Lord is teaching three important attitudes of prayer:
We are to pray boldly.
Traveling at night was common during the biblical times in order to avoid the midday heat. For this reason, guest usually comes at midnight. The man in the story had a late arriving guest who is hungry after a long and exhausting journey and it is his duty as host to provide a meal. In those days, hospitality was held in high regard and was seen almost as a duty. A visitor has to be welcomed and cared for, regardless of the hour of his arrival. But food was not as readily available at that time as it is today. There were of course no 24 hour convenience food stores on each corner. And poor families baked only enough bread daily and usually consumed in a day. The poor host in the parable had nothing to offer his guest and was embarrassed. And he was in great dilemma. Not to provide for his guest’s needs would not only bring shame upon himself and his family but to the village as a whole. What is he to do?
He could not supply the need himself but he knew of someone who could help him supply this need –his neighborhood friend. But, would he have the nerve to wake up his friend (and possibly his friend’s whole family) in the middle of the night for three loaves of bread? In those days, the whole family slept in the same room, and even the smaller livestock was brought into the house to be safe from thieves. He could cause considerable inconvenience to his friend’s house if he goes there to ask for bread. Therefore the friend’s negative response and refusal to the request were actually expected and understandable. Friendship is not a sufficient reason to upset the whole household.
But the man went on and persisted on his request. He persistently implored his friend of his need. Ultimately, the reluctant friend got up and gave him what he needed, for one reason only, his persistence. The KJV Bible used the word “importunity” for the word persistence as used in the NIV. Its Greek word carries the idea of “boldness.” And right, there is a sense of boldness in what the man in the parable is doing. He was shamelessly bold in imploring his friend about his need. To bring great disturbance to a whole family (who were sleeping peacefully) in the middle of the night is really an act of shameless boldness. The man was shamelessly bold to get what he needed. I think, our prayers need to have the same intenseness. Christians must have the same attitude in prayer.
Anyway, Jesus did not compare God to a sleepy, selfish, unwilling, and angry neighbor here. He actually gives a contrast between God and the man’s friend here. What He is saying to the disciples is that if a neighbor can be persuaded to meet the needs of a friend on the basis of friendship, social etiquette or by someone’s insistence and imploration, how much more will our Father in Heaven meet the needs of his children. There’s no sense of reluctance and unwillingness in the divine provision of God. When it comes to answering the needs of His people, God is always willing and able. Persistence in prayer does not mean we must keep beating on God‘s door until we overcome God’s unwillingness to act. In simple terms, persistence is the attitude to go on. Boldness in prayer, on the other hand, does not mean we have the face to demand God whatever we want, but it is simply having sure confidence that God will lovingly respond to us.
Now, what makes us bold and shamelessly persistent to come to God for our needs? The answer to this question is our relationship to God. He is our Father who loves us; we are His people. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that because Jesus Christ our High Priest is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, we can “come boldly before God’s throne of grace” (Heb 4:16). This verse indirectly reminds us that it’s the sacrifice of our High Priest that made us God’s children. Therefore, we don’t have to fear coming to the throne of Grace because we are children of the King.