Sermon on Luke 11:1-13
Text: One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Parents spend a great deal of time teaching. There are so many things that a child needs to learn. As the child learns to speak, parents teach them to pray. Most often one of the first prayers is the prayer at mealtime. Bed time prayers often follow. We work with them and work with them, until they are able to recite the prayer. We are proud of them, when they are able to accomplish this. It took a great deal of effort and time to teach them to pray. However, just as the child needed to be taught how to pray, we, at times, need a refresher course in praying. Jesus’ disciples felt the same way. They had often seen Jesus go off by himself and pray. Perhaps they were reminded of their inadequacies when they saw and heard Jesus pray. So, they came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” This morning, we ask the same thing, “LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.” 1. For The Proper Things and 2. In The Proper Manner.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he responded with the familiar words of, what we call, the Lord’s Prayer. One could easily spend seven weeks studying the Lord’s Prayer. Each of the seven petitions teach us what we are to pray for. Yet, this morning, we will briefly look at the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus begins by saying, “Father.” Just think of the implications of that term. We are allowed to address the almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, as our Father. That, in itself, is a wonderful thing. The word “father” denotes a special relationship. It is a relationship that we do not deserve. We deserve only God’s wrath and punishment. We do not deserve to call God Father. We do not deserve to have him love us. Rather, we deserve to see the righteous Judge side of God, because of our sins. We deserve to hear only wrathful words of judgment coming from him. Every single sin separates us from the love of God. For example, God tells me not to worry about the future. He wants me to trust in him for everything. Yet, there is this part of me that gets so worked up about everything. I feel that things just won’t happen, if I don’t worry about them. My friends, worrying about our needs is a sin. God tells us that he will take care of all of our needs and to worry about them is to call God a liar. It shows a lack of trust. This and many other sins had separated us from God.
Yet, we can call God “Father.” Why is that? Paul tells us in Galatians 3:26, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” We are God’s children because we have been brought to faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin. Because the Holy Spirit created this faith in our hearts which tells us that Jesus died for our sins, we can rightfully be called the children of God. We also have the rights of sons, and one of those rights is the ability to call upon God in prayer. This is a privilege that unbelievers do not have. The Bible tells us, “Your iniquities have separated you from God.” There is a wall of sin between the unbeliever and God. That wall separates the unbeliever from God and his love. The believer, however, has had that wall of sin removed by Jesus. Now, he can pray to God, his Father.
As we read the petitions found in verses two through four, I would like you to note what receives the emphasis in this model prayer that Jesus taught. “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” Notice what receives the emphasis. There are four petitions dealing with spiritual matters and only one dealing with physical things. If we look at the words of the Lord’s Prayer as they are recorded in Matthew 6, we find that the ratio is even greater at 6:1. By this we learn what we should pray for. By their greater number, it becomes evident that Jesus is teaching that spiritual matters deserve the greater attention. The spreading of the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins, a holy life — these are what is important. Our physical needs are secondary.
As we examine our prayer lives, what often receives the greater attention? I would imagine that a good deal of the time, we would have to say that the physical needs receive our greater attention. One could understand that. Our problems and our troubles are right in front of us. We deal with them every day. And, God doesn’t tell us not to pray for them. After all, he gave us the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In this petition, we are asking that God would give us all of the things that we need for our body and life. However, these things are not to take the priority. They are here and gone. On the other hand, spiritual things go on for eternity. Jesus tells us, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you, as well.” God has promised to take care of all of our physical needs. We can be confident in that. Let us, then, turn our attention to what is really important. May our prayers to heaven be full of petitions, asking that God’s will be done on earth and in us. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us the proper things to pray for. We pray that our faith would be strengthened. We pray that many others might be brought to know Jesus as their Savior. We pray, as Jesus taught us to pray, especially for our spiritual lives, confident in the fact that he will also take care of our physical needs. Lord, teach us to pray for the proper things.
After Jesus taught his disciples what they should pray for, he also taught them the manner in which they should pray. By means of two pictures, Jesus teaches that we should pray persistently and confidently. Jesus told a story to illustrate the first point. “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’” This was a common enough situation. An unexpected visitor caught his host unaware. There were no twenty-four hour grocery stores, so the man went to a friend and asked to borrow some bread. However, the friend answered, “‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’” The friend refused to get up, for fear that he would wake up the whole household. In those days, the entire family slept in the same room. If he got up to get the friend some bread, he would, very likely wake his children.
Jesus continued by saying, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” The man kept knocking at the door, until the friend got up and gave him some bread. His persistence paid off. What can we learn from this illustration of Jesus? Jesus is teaching us that we are to continually pray to God. We are to be persistent in our prayers. Jesus isn’t saying that God is bothered by our prayers and so, to shut us up, he gives in. God welcomes our prayers. He does, however, want us to be persistent in our prayers. We don’t just pray once, figuring we’ve done our part. We come to him again and again in prayer. As Paul teaches us in one of the shortest passages in the Bible, “Pray continually.”
When we pray, we also must be ready for God’s answer, even if it isn’t the answer we are looking for. We may pray for something, but God, in his wisdom, knows that it would not be good for us, if he granted our petition. He may see fit to grant our petition, but he wants us to wait awhile. Just because our petition may not be granted, doesn’t mean that we should not pray. Rather, we are told to pray persistently and boldly, because God is our heavenly Father and we are his dear children.
Jesus brings that point home in verses 11-13, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”. Parents try to give their children what is best for them. Sometimes it means saying “No” to a request. Yet, the fear of the word “No” doesn’t stop children from asking. Many are the times when children will ask, even though they are quite sure that the answer will be “No.” Yet, they continue to ask.
Parents try to do what is best for their children, but, because they are sinful, they will make mistakes. Jesus says that our heavenly Father never makes mistakes. He will always do what is best for us. He loves us with an unselfish love. Sometimes parents will say “No” because they are being selfish, but not God. He showed his unselfish love by sending Jesus to die for us. He loved us so much that he willingly sacrificed his own Son for us. Since he loved us that much, we can be sure that he will listen to our requests. Let us boldly come before our heavenly Father with our requests. Let us persistently lay our life in his hands. Let us leave with the sure knowledge that everything is being taken care of. This is the manner in which we are to pray.
As we studied prayer this morning, we have seen that at times we are like the two-year-old struggling with the simplest of table prayers. We ask that Jesus would help us to pray better, that he would continually remind us of what is truly important. His kingdom and my spiritual life are to receive first priority. My physical life is to come after that. We are encouraged to pray persistently and boldly, knowing that our heavenly Father hears and will answer all of our prayers in whatever manner is best for us. May we be encouraged to pray by the words of verses nine and ten “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Lord, teach us to pray for the proper things and in the proper manner. Amen.
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