Monday, November 14, 2011

On The Subject Of Prayer...

I didn't end up getting to the last couple sermons, but I wanted to definitely put this one up before I do the others. As the title says...this sermon was on Prayer. (Well, the actual Sermon was titled How To Approach God, which in the beginning I failed to make the connection, but then it hit me eventually xD). The passage comes from Luke 11:1-13. I know it's long, but what the hey, I'll put it up here. Maybe.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

3 Give us each day our daily bread,

4 and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation."

5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

I apologize for the length of that passage. Now, the first thing when you look at this, is you see the Lord's Prayer. Our man Luke here does things, again, differently then the other Disciples. Whereas the others in their Gospels focus more on the Lord's Prayer, Luke widens his focus a little bit. The first thing also, is that we see here that Jesus calls us to be BOLD in our approach to God. We must approach God with bold persistence, knowing that as a Loving Father, He will Provide for our Spiritual Good. Another thing, is that sometimes we can worry about Prayer. We can think that sometimes, we just don't know how to pray and think it's the end. Well it's not. Jesus says here what we ought to do. We may not necessarily say those exact words...but in Truth, our prayers should long for His will to be done. So prayer is a thing that CAN be learned, not something that either people have, or don't. Some may even wonder what the teaching afterwards actually has to do with the Lord's Prayer. In all honesty, the instruction of verses 5-13 assume the Foundational Instruction of the first four verses (the Lord's Prayer).

Now, onto the actual 'story' part. Sometimes for us in this Modern Era, it is sometimes hard to understand the backdrop of these times. In the time when Jesus walked the Earth, Hospitality was a BIG DEAL. A very big deal. Unfortunately, however; their 'supermarkets' of the day weren't open 24 hours as Walmart or some of our other superstores are. For the man knocking on the door, this is a HUGE deal to him. Why? Well, the verse makes it clear that he has 'friends' traveling from afar that have just arrived, and he has NOTHING to feed them. He's DESPERATE to feed his friends, because that's what his culture has him do. Another thing that we miscalculate today is their 'houses'. Back then, it was usually one big room and one huge 'bed'. Usually the family and a couple of the small 'farm animals' would all sleep in the bed...which means it's a big deal for one to get up without waking the entire family.

The main point with this story, is the fact that annoyed, the man got up after the neighbor wouldn't stop banging on the door for food. This isn't saying we need to push God to the limits...but the idea is that even if the man, being sinful, still gets up and gives the neighbor what he much more will a perfect God of Love give you what you need? In more of the 'application' part, Jesus goes on to say the well known: Ask, and it will be given, Knock, and the door will be opened, Seek, and you will find. The idea of 'Persistance' is really reinforced by the increasing intensity of the words 'ask', 'seek', and 'knock'.

Martyn Lloyd Jones had this to say on the matter: "The importance of this element of persistence CANNOT be exaggerated. You find it not ONLY in biblical teaching, but also in the lives of the saints. The most fatal thing in the Christian Life is to be content with 'passing desires'. If we really want to be men of God, if we REALLY want to know Him, and walk with Him, and experience those boundless Blessings which He has to offer us, we MUST persist in asking Him for them DAY BY DAY. We have to feel this hunger and thirst for righteousness, and then we shall be filled. And that does not mean that we are filled once and for ever...No, we go on hungering and thirsting." Well, that's paraphrased at least.

Hmm, I'm only realizing how good this quote is (though long...) my pastor didn't really hit on it enough. One thing to definitely put on a note: "The most fatal thing in the Christian Life is to be content with 'passing desires'". That's at least the one that jumps out at me the most.

Jesus then moves on to another illustration, and it's definitely a home-run (yes, I did just reference my worst sport) of an illustration. What's the illustration? Well, it's found in the last three verses of the passage we're looking at. What is that? YES, it's the father-son illustration, and I love it. "What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?" And the truth he brings is that, if evil sinful men can be decent fathers and give their sons (children, really) what they need...How much more will God, the Perfect God of Love, give His children the things they need? And truly, the Holy Spirit (besides Himself as a sacrifice) was the best thing that Jesus gave us. Another entire sermon (or good length of pondering) could be focused on the Holy Spirit, but I'm sure you know who 'He' is. Well, still, God, but just another part of the Godhead Trinity.

So just a few thoughts from here on out: If we truly recognize how much we are in need, then we'll easily grow from there in earnest prayer and become closer to God as we keep on moving towards him in prayer. Also, the main thrust for prayer is really for the Father's Kingdom then REAL SELF needs. Yes, you do have your needs...But what better need do we have then for God to radiate the light in His Gospel around the world? Anything else falls way below that. Also, NEVER EVER back away from God because of past sins or you feel like you're not worthy enough to plead your case before him. A. if we waited until we WERE worthy enough, we would NEVER COME! B. None of us will be worthy if you shall ever come, come now. Sooner is better then later. Another thing to think about is the fact that we can't really DISTURB God into giving us our needs (as the neighbor did in the text) but He wants, wants us to plead His case before Him. You won't be answered the same instant...and sometimes in long periods of prayer (maybe years even) we become more desiring for the need. If we didn't have to wait long for something, how'll we know how much we want and need it?

I must admit, I have never really been a 'praying' person...but I'm definitely growing. As I look back on the hardships of this past year, I realize how much I did pray more then I ever had before, and I still think I didn't pray enough. I suppose you can never pray enough, though. Anyway, the point is, prayer is a really important and strong showing of Faith...Let's put more and more of our trust in God today, shall we?