Shameless prayer

2024-02-02A

Please read Luke 11:5-13.

A. IN THE school OF PRAYER.

The previous pericope (verses 1-4) deals with the model prayer the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. It provides guidelines on what, and how to pray. The Scripture we now study, is about the confidence we must have in our hearts that God will answer our prayers.

B. Think about this logically.

In this teaching Jesus uses illustrations from everyday life on which He then builds an argument to convince us of an important spiritual truth. All three illustrasions are about people helping one another though they are not under obligation to do so. The listener cannot but agree that such occurrences do happen in everyday life amongst ordinary imperfect people. Building on that, Jesus argues that God who is so much greater, will help us so much more though we may not neccessarily deserve it.

C. Jesus’ first argument.

Friends help each other, BECAUSE THEY ARE FRIENDS; THAT IS HOW FRIENDSHIP WORKS

We read Luke 11:5-8

And He said to them, which of you shall have a friend and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him? And he answering from inside may say, Do not trouble me. The door is now shut and my children are in bed with me. I cannot rise and give to you. I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will arise and give him as many as he needs. 

The illustration which Jesus gives, is more or less as follows: “Just think how you would respond if your friend came to you asking, ‘Please give me this or that.’ Normally you would give him what he asks for, wouldn’t you? Is this not how it is between friends? And you are imperfect human beings. Don’t you think God will do at least the same; or do you think you are more generous than He? Has it ever occurred to you that maybe He enjoys giving people what they ask for?

When you surrendered your life to the Lord, He did not only become your Father, but also your Friend. When you go to him in prayer, also think of him as a friend. This will give you confidence to ask of him that which you need for yourself and for others. Good friends are very generous towards one another. They enjoy sharing what they have, with one another. God likewise loves to share his bountiful possessions with his friends and you are one of them. Is’nt that great?

D. Jesus’ second argument.

“A PERSON will help another if THE PERSON UNAshameDly, ABSOLUTELY DEPENDS ON him.

The illustration we read also points out how people help one another for reasons other than friendship. We will embroider upon that to enlighten the lesson contained therein.

The illustration is taken from a household of that time. Once the sun set, all activity ceased for there was no electricity to afford proper lighting. All the shops and stalls closed down for the day. It was time for bedding down and resting.

The homes mostly consisted of one room only. That is where one and all slept. Cooking of food and washing oneself, were done in outside enclosures. Once everybody was inside the house, the door was barred and tied securely. The room would be further prepared for the night by the light of a candle or lamp. Once the energetic children, had settled down in bed, the light was snuffed out. The father and mother would then remove their outer garments and whatever else in the dark and also bed down. Then all slept; no reading or Tv watching till midnight.

To light even a candle after dark would cause a disturbance. You would have to stumble around to find the clumsy apparatus, then fumble to light it; no fancy lighters. By then the baby, your wife and several of your other twelve kids would have woken up. So the bottom line was: everyone sleeps till dawn.

Now Imagine living in a house next to a friend of yours who had that lifestyle. Then one night something extraordinary happens. Another friend of yours unexpectedly turns up at midnight and stumbles into your home. He is totally worn out, covered with dust and famished, having been on the road for several days and having eaten the minimum all this time. He desperately needs food, but you do not have a crumb of bread yourself. And of course, not even a stall is open at that time. The whole village is fast asleep. What now?

An idea comes to your mind: My friend John next door; he will surely have some bread for his wife bakes daily. You slip on your cloak and go to his house. All is dark and quiet. You hate to have to do this but there is no alternative. Hesitatingly you lift your hand and softly knock on the door. No response. You knock more urgently. At last you hear your friend’s sleepy voice: “Yes, who is it?” 

“Joe, it’s me, John, your neighbor, I urgently need to speak to you,” comes your distressed reply.

“Goodness me John, what’s wrong; anybody sick?” he whispers.

“No, no,” you reply “not that, but I surely am in a dilemma.”

For a few moments it is quiet, then he whispers again, “Well John, speak up; what is troubling you?

You hesitate, then stutter: ‘Joe, an old friend of mine has just now turned up at my place from a long journey. He is faint with hunger and thirst and you know what, we have just tonight eaten all the bread we had. We have nothing left to offer him. Could you help me with just three small loaves? Just three. My wife will be baking tomorrow; then I’ll refund you right away. I truly will’ you rattle off your request.

How would Joe respond? He may say to himself, ‘This man is now really abusing our friendship to inconvenience me like this in the middle of the night. He does not behave like a friend; he is no longer my friend; I will not give him anything.’ But as he lies there, he hears you knocking louder and louder, pleading in a hoarse voice: “Please my friend, please, I must have some bread. I can’t return home without it. Please open the door and help me; please, please!”

Then Joe might say to his wife: ‘Oh, this man has no shame, he just simply takes it for granted that I will help him. He forces himself on me. The whole neighborhood is probably already awake. He doesn’t care what people will say of him.’ And his wife may reply: ‘I agree my dear, I agree. If we don’t help him, all the women will point fingers at me, accusing me of selfishness. Give him the bread to save us further embarrassment.’ Sighing, Joe wil get up, light the candle, find three loaves of bread, and pass it to you through the window. And so you, the shameless neighbour, will return home with the loaves under your arm and a big smile on your face. You can now serve your other dear friend with food.

‘Well,’ said Jesus: ‘If this is what you people will do for a man who unashamedly casts himself upon you, who trusts you explicitly, how much more will your Heavenly Friend not give all to those who put their trust in him; who are not ashamed to openly show that they absolutely trust Him.”

E. Jesus’ third argument.

if a son knocks ON his father’S DOOR, his father will help him because he is his father”.

Then Jesus advanced a third practical argument why we should pray with expectation for our needs (Luk 11:11-13):

For what father of you, if the son asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake for a fish? Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? 

Again the Lord uses three very strong arguments saying we must pay attention to the fathers of this world. They often do bad things like drinking and robbing, but when it comes to their children, they try to do only the best for them. To them they will gladly give the good things they ask for. So much more will our heavenly Father, who is infinitely better and loving towards us as his children, give us the Holy Spirit if we only ask Him.

Now why will He give us the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the triune God and if He is given to us, God gives Himself to us and if we receive Him, we receive the sum total of all good things. (Matt 7:11 reads that He will give “good gifts” to His children.)

F. NOW Decide for yourself.

Jesus, having laid before us these three strong arguments why God will answer our prayers, now invites us to use the opportunity to ask him for what we need. Let us no longer stand there, biting our nails but step forward laing our petisions before him: ” 

Pray and it will be given to you be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone who prays receives; and he that seeketh finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”

What a stunning blank check. What a pity that pride and lack of faith so often steal this check from our hands, tearing it up and letting it go to waste!

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