Summary: God does answer prayer if we ask, seek, knock.

The Power of Prayer

There is a priest in Dublin, Ireland named Father Foster

He tells about the day

he parked his car on a rather steep slope

close to his church.

His little terrier was lying on the back seat

and could not be seen by anyone outside the vehicle.

Father Foster got out of the car,

turned to lock the door,

and gave his usual parting command to his dog.

"Stay!" he ordered loudly.

An elderly man was watching the performance with amused interest.

Grinning, he suggested,

"Why don’t you just try putting on the emergency brake?"

Today Jesus reflects on the power of prayer.

To one who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer

watching someone pray

is the equal to watching someone say, "Stay," to their automobile

To one who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer

prayer is an exercise in futility.

But to one who believes in the power of prayer,

prayer is the most powerful

and the most reliable force in the world today.

It is clear that Jesus believed in prayer.

His disciples often observed Jesus praying.

I always give the Confirmation Class the definition:

Prayer is communicating with God.

Since prayer was important to Jesus,

the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

And Jesus gladly agreed.

You’ve already heard a skit

explaining what the Lord’s Prayer means

This then, is a model prayer.

covering the necessities of everyday spiritual living.

It leads us to focus on the basics of life.

Then, Jesus continues his "lesson" with a little story.

It involves a friend

who contacts you late at night

with a request for food because they have company.

Since there were no 24 hour stores to buy food at

and your friend is persistent

you finally agree to help.

This parable is not a blanket promise

that our prayers will be answered

This parable is not a guide

on how to manipulate God into doing what we want.

Mark Powell, professor of NT at Trinity Lutheran Seminary,

suggests this option as we look at the story:

Think of the story

as having an origin in Jesus’ own memories of rural peasant life.

Imagine him as a child in Nazareth.

After dark, his father Joseph gathers the entire family –

Mary, Jesus, James, Joses, Jude, Simon, the daughters

and probably the more valuable of their animals

into the one-room home

Homes in those days measured perhaps 12 feet square.

The only opening was closed an bolted

and, of course, there was no light.

Somehow, everyone went to sleep, piled on top of each other.

Now, suddenly, someone comes knocking at the door:

a neighbor wants Joseph to get up,

light a lamp,

wake up all the children,

find him some bread,

and open the door

so that he can offer this to a guest who has come late to visit.

Now who wants to answer the door

or for that matter answer the phone

after you and the kids have gone to bed?

Yet the Bible says

Joseph was a righteous man (Matthew 1:19),

and it’s probably safe to say

he wasn’t real excited about this sort of thing.

Still, Jesus remembers,

he got up, grumbling,

and he helped out his friend.

Professor Mark Powell says,

Let’s say that happened.

Years later, Jesus could recall such a story

and tell it for the amusement of an audience

who had neighbors like that themselves.


“Is that the way God thinks of us?”

Jesus asks his audience to consider:

a pesky neighbor’?


God loves to give to us.

Maybe sometimes we do come with stupid requests.

But God takes care of us either way.

Because God loves to give to us.

The point of praying

is to ask for what God wants to give,

to search out his will,

to knock on the doors that lead to life.

Jesus goes on to say

that we should ask, search, and knock.

which means RISK

What if no one answers,

what if I search down the wrong road,

what if the door is never opened?

Prayer involves great risk.

Are we willing to take that risk?

Abraham takes a big risk

in our first lesson in requesting of God

that he consider sparing Sodom and Gommorah

if only 50 righteous are found there.

He takes an even bigger risk paring that number down to 10!

But prayer is also an intimate action.

Asking involves being face to face with someone.

Searching involves curiosity and innovation.

Knocking is not for the timid.

Abraham is face to face with these strangers

which he comes to realize are God’s presence with him now.

He asks them directly What if?????

He is searching out God’s mercy and grace.

He is also persistent

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