"The Father Listens"
The first thirteen verses of the chapter center around prayer, both the why and the how. But Jesus wants them to know God listens and responds the way a good father would.
The Father Who Listens
A. Prayer. It’s one of those subjects that we disciples of King Jesus do. Why pray? For most of us the answer is: because we want God to step into this life in a supernatural manner. It may be for healing, it may be for wisdom and direction, it may be salvation; but we pray because we want God to act, and often act in a way we see and understand.
B. Now, here where I start to have some theological debates with myself, if I believe that prayer changes things, then why should I pray about anything more than one time? Isn’t my continually going to God in prayer about the same spiritual issue a lack of faith?
C. Now, before you jump on that idea, let me ask you to think about the ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist. In Luke 18 we read that Jesus tells a story about why we should always pray and not lose heart. It’s call the “Parable of the Unjust Judge.” What a name. We learn to keep on praying by reading about a judge who is not nice to a widow.
D. I share that because as we think about what it means to be a disciple, prayer becomes a part of our life. Last week we talk about making disciples (and you can’t make disciples for Jesus unless you live as a disciple of Jesus), and this week we look at one of the things disciples do – pray. So Luke unfolds for us this teaching in Luke 11:1.
I. Learn To Pray Effectively
A. I find it fascinating what the disciples of Jesus wanted to learn from him. Think about it; these guys traveled around Palestine with Jesus, they ate with him, slept where he slept, listened to him teach one-on-one and to multitudes of thousands. They saw him change water to wine, calm storms, heal the sick, cast out demons, restore sight to the blind, bring the lame to their feet to jump for joy, yet, with all of it is never recorded that they asked Jesus, “teach us how to do miracles” or “teach us how to tell parables.”
B. What we find is they asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray.” And here is the reason why, because they saw Jesus praying. Jesus didn’t just pray on this occasion; Jesus was a person who prayed often. Another hero for these disciples was John; in fact some of them had first been disciples of John. And one thing Jesus and John had in common was the fact they both spent time in prayer.
C. Jesus, teach me to pray. John taught his disciples, we have all learned how to pray from the time we were children and pray in our families and spiritual gatherings, but Jesus, we want to learn to pray like you.
D. Jesus teaches them about prayer by helping them understand what to pray for. This prayer that Jesus uses is a shorter version of what Matthew records Jesus doing in “The Sermon on the Mount.” Listen to this (Luke 11:2-4).
E. Prayer is about connecting me to God’s will. So I start with the realization that God is holy. It puts me into perspective from the start. But not only is God holy, but His kingdom is that which I need to cherish. God’s kingdom is wherever God reigns. We see the kingdom on this earth in the church. This church family is important to God and therefore it is important to me. I pray for us.
F. When it comes to praying for me, I need to keep my dependence upon God. So I want to have, what God wants to give me. I am a blessed man and God has given me food, clothing, a place to sleep, and so much more. God let me keep my focus on you and know that all good gives come from you. But don’t stop there.
G. I am saved. God has forgiven my sins through the blood of Jesus, he cleansed me and made me whole. I want to live with that type of love for others that God has given to me.
H. Finally, he prays about the future, temptations that all of us face. God, direct my path so that I don’t walk in the ways of the wicked. Lead me not into temptation.
I. Prayer that is effective, is prayer that centers on God. It seeks God to always lead and loving accepts all that God gives. It focuses on the spiritual but doesn’t neglect the physical. But Jesus didn’t stop there.
II. The Father Who Listens
A. Jesus was teaching these men how to pray effectively. So he does what he often does, he tells a story. READ Luke 11:5-8. The first thing I learn is that Jesus teaches me to come before God boldly. Boldly is not demanding, but seeking God and no being afraid to talk to him. I am reminded of when Abraham boldly talk to God about how many righteous people needed to live in Sodom before he would not destroy the city. Remember that story? He started with 50, then 40, 30, 20, 10. That’s bold. Jesus teaches us that we can be bold with God, not disrespectful, but passionate and open. Just like this man did
B. Jesus is not comparing God to a sleepy, selfish and angry neighbor. He is contrasting the two. He is telling the disciples that if a neighbor can, on the basis of friendship and social etiquette, be persuaded to meet the needs of a friend, how much more will your father in heaven meet your needs?
C. Keep reading (Luke 11:9-10). When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he did not teach words, but heart. He taught them that prayer was not simply something you did, but something you sought. God is looking for the whole, “Ask, seek, knock” aspect from us. The idea behind what Jesus is teaching is God is okay with persistence. He who seeks – finds. Finds what? What they are looking for? No, they seek and find God. They knock – where? On their own door for their own wants and desires? No, on God’s door and he opens that door to them. So, ask, seek and knock.
D. Jesus finishes this teaching with helping us to see God relationally (Luke 11:11-13). God is not just a being who saves and destroys, God is your father. A good dad would never do anything that brought about harm to his child. And Jesus uses that to say, God never does anything that would bring harm to us. Sometimes I don’t’ get what I want because God knows what is best for me. Do you believe that? Is prayer about seeking God’s will for your life?
A. God is eager to respond to his children who unashamedly ask, persistently seek and expectantly knock at His door with their needs and requests.
B. This morning, learn to be the disciple who takes the time to be with Father. Be the disciples who prays with faith in God and desires to live out the will of God. Be the disciples who know that prayer is more than your Christmas wish list, it is your communion and fellowship time with your creator. You have a Father who listens, take everything to God in prayer. If we can pray with you this day, please come as we stand and sing.
Because of Jesus,
Jeffrey Dillinger, minister