Summary: After Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He shared some parables about our persistence in prayer and the certainty of God’s great gift in answer--the Holy Spirit.
For someone who doesn’t have a lot to be proud of, I’m afraid that I have to confess that I have acted with pride far too often in my life. Now, I don’t mean that I’ve surrounded myself with a “posse” of fans and supporters. I don’t mean that I’ve deliberately put anybody down or ignored them because I thought I was better than they were. I don’t mean that I’ve bought a car, jewelry, or expensive clothes to advertise my alleged success. I don’t have the money to do that, but it’s not my style, anyway. And, I don’t mean that I require everyone to call me “Doctor Wilson,” although I do use the title as an “academic credit card” at times when dealing with the college where I teach.
My pride expressed itself in two destructive ways. First, there have been times that I ignored learning things I should have learned because I thought they were “too elementary” for me. Trust me, folks. You pay for that in the long run. But the one that’s relevant to today’s text is the one I’ve only recently acknowledged. I have too often been too proud to ask for help—even from my parents. That’s the second way I’ve hurt myself with pride and, sadly, it’s a way I still hurt myself. It isn’t smart and it isn’t Christian.
You see, I’m so proud that I have trouble asking people for anything. I didn’t get an allowance when I was in high school and any kind of paying work was few and far between. My parents expected me to come to them when I needed money for lunch money, class rings, yearbooks, books, gas money, dates, or anything. Instead of being thankful that they wanted to give me good gifts like this, I resented having to ask. Instead of being thankful that I had parents who were employed and loved me, I insulted them by not making my desires known to them. In too many ways, I shut them out of my life by thinking they were too poor or too “narrow” to meet my needs. And I cheated both my folks and myself—even though they rather heroically pulled my fat out of the fire on several occasions.
Now, a lot of people have the same problem with prayer. They think it demeans them and makes them less noble or less truly human to ask God for something. They think that God intends for them to handle it themselves and end up shutting God out of their lives—cheating both God and themselves instead of building a relationship. And, they rationalize their unwillingness to pray to God with the most feeble excuses: God has more important things to do; God wants us to handle the little things; or That’s too small for God to deal with. I have known people who thought I was being idolatrous to ask for God’s guidance in buying a house or a car. They thought that was too small, too insignificant for God to care about. Gee, here I thought my God created and sustains even sub-atomic particles. If God is involved with the Periodic Table of the Elements, I think God can be involved in my daily life. God may not be a Cubs fan (indeed, history would show us that He most assuredly is not), but that doesn’t stop me from thanking God when I get to see a great play or get to experience the joy of a game at the friendly confines. When I thank God, the experience is that much better.
Of course, my parents had another reason for wanting me to come to them for money. They loved me, wanted what was best for me, and, as a result, wanted to know how the money was being spent. They didn’t want to contribute money for anything that was harmful to me. In the same way, God wants us to come to our heavenly Father for our needs so that God can provide that which is best for us, that which is good for us, and not what is bad for us. We involve God in a powerful proactive way.
[Slide 2] In Luke 11, Jesus’ example in prayer demonstrates a need to His disciples, a need to learn to pray as Jesus prayed—prayer that gave Him power and prayer that provided results that the disciples could see. The disciples looked around and saw that other teachers were training their students* how to pray and they felt like they were missing something vital. So, they asked Jesus to teach them.
And, as we’ve seen in other sermons, He taught the disciples to treat God as “Daddy,” a parent intimately involved in His children’s lives. He taught the disciples to recognize that they needed to treat God’s name (person and reputation) as “holy” to remind them that everything we do reflects upon God’s reputation. He taught the disciples to make sure that their goals and objectives were in agreement with God’s “KINGDOM” goals.