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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jesus Calls Us to Pray Boldly



Jesus Calls Us to Pray Boldly

Luke 11:5-13



Jesus taught a whole lesson encouraging his followers to be bold when they pray.  To be persistent and keep on asking and never give up.  Jesus starts out with one of his parables or stories to try to get the point across.  Here is the story Jesus told.


“Suppose you have a friend, and he knocks on your door at midnight and shouts through the door, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread!  A friend of mine was traveling by and surprised me by dropping by my house tonight. I happen to be out of food right now and he is hungry.  It’s a mess.  What are we to do?’ 


It is very late and you have been wakened out of a sound sleep.  Now the dogs are barking and the children are waking up.  You are annoyed that your friend would inconvenience you like this.  You shout back, ‘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 now.  You’ve got to be crazy to even ask!!’


But nothing slows your friend down.  He keeps knocking and begging loudly.  “It’s an emergency, please don’t leave us without food!”  There is more pounding on the door.  “My friend hasn’t eaten for several days and he is passing out!  I will pay you back tomorrow when I can go to the store.  Please, pleased!”  He keeps on knocking at my door!  And I can hear his friend’s children crying in the background! 


I turn over in bed, cover my head with my pillow and pretend not to hear.  He puts the little children up near my window so I can’t miss hearing them crying loudly for food.  I am irritated and I can see that I’m not going to get any sleep tonight until I get up and give him what he wants!  I get up grumpily and stagger into the kitchen and get three loaves of bread and open the front door and shove the loaves out the door at my friend.  I don’t give him the bread because he is my friend but because he won’t stop knocking on my door!  And because he won’t give up!.”  (Luke 11:5-8) 


Jesus tells this story to teach us to behave like the friend in the story when we pray to God.  To refused to give up.  To follow his example and keep on knocking loudly on the door of heaven boldly asking for what we need.  To keep on expecting and keep on holding up our need or the needs of our friends.  To let the Holy Spirit lead and to fast and pray and keep on believing. Jesus tells us to pray like that!  Prayer is holy work! 


Right after Jesus tells this story he adds: “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives and he who seeks, finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  (Luke 11:9-10)  Jesus is showing us that the gracious heavenly Father wants to give us good things if we will come to Him.  


Jesus continues teaching about the giving nature of our heavenly Father.  He says that if our son or daughter is hungry and asks us for food we human parents will not give our hungry child a stone instead of food. And even though we human parents have faults we still usually give good gifts to our children. (Luke 11:11-13a) “How much more will our holy heavenly Father who loves us perfectly “give the Holy Spirit to those of us – his children who ask Him!”  (Luke 11:13b)  


You notice here that Jesus teaches that God will give “good” gifts to his children and He will give the Holy Spirit.  Most Bible scholars believe that “good” gifts mean “spiritual” gifts.   Other Bible passages tell us to pray in Jesus’ Name and ask in His will and He will always give these things.  If we ask God for something that He sees will be bad for us or bad for someone else He does not promise to answer those prayers.


 James 4:3 says: “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures.”  We can ask God for a new expensive car but I don’t think we have the promise that He will definitely give that.  He may but then I don’t think we can count on it.  But if we ask for the salvation of a loved one we do know that that is in God’s will and I believe we can count on God answering that prayer. 


We do not know all of the reasons why God sometimes waits to answer our prayers.  And sometimes we have to wait a long time for the answers!  Some even wait until they reach heaven!  But God is working behind the scenes!  God’s timing is not always our timing!  Is God testing our faith by sometimes making us wait?  We are to leave these things to God and keep on believing that God is hearing us and holding up our requests!  Keep on trusting our loving heavenly Father.  When Abraham was a young man God promised him that he would become a father, but Abraham waited until he was one hundred years old to see his first child!  


Sometimes we don’t know what we should pray for or how we should pray.  But our heavenly Father has taken care of that too.  Scripture says: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  …and the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”  We can know that the Holy Spirit will be there with us, giving us the needed faith to believe that God is hearing us and helping us pray in this holy work. 


Hebrews 4:16 says:” Fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in good time for every need.”  Our gracious heavenly Father bids us come to Him.  He longs to bless us and give us good gifts.  Psalms 100 tells us: “We are his people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful unto Him and bless His name.  For the Lord is good.  His mercy is everlasting.  And His truth endures to all generations.”  (Psalm 100:3b-5)  He is calling us to come!

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