February 14, 2024

February 14, 2024

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
February 14, 2024

Luke's gospel has often been called the Gospel of Prayer and for a couple of reasons. It has more of Jesus’ prayers than any of the other gospels; I believe nine times we have Jesus praying in the gospel of Luke. The other reason why this is called the Gospel of Prayer is because there is at least three parables that focus on prayer. The prayer of the persevering widow, then the prayers of the publican and the Pharisee, and then you have this third prayer here in Luke chapter 11 when a friend comes knocking at midnight for help from a friend to help a friend.

Luke 11:5-13,” 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 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.’ 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.’ 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 arise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you if his son asks him for a fish will instead of a fish give him a serpent? Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion. 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?”

Jesus did a lot of teaching on perseverance. I think it was Dr. John Piper who said you could fly the banner of perseverance over the whole Bible. So it's a dominant theme and Jesus talked about perseverance, “persevere unto the end, he shall be saved,” and he taught prayer and emphasizes perseverance, at least in Luke's Gospel, the persevering widow back in chapter 18.

And then chapter 11 is also a stress upon perseverance. This might be one of the hardest things for us as Christians to pray perseveringly, long-term persevering prayer. But this friend comes to his other friend's house at midnight asking for three loaves of bread and he persists, verse 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.” And that word, impudence, it has a little bit of a nuance. It can mean shamelessness; also perseverance is found in that word. But it seems to be that despite the embarrassment or the shame that might have occurred when this guy is crying out knocking on the door of his friend at midnight, you would think that he wouldn't make too many friends, he wouldn't be that popular, but he doesn't give up. And as we go to God, that's something to keep in mind, that we need to come to God persistently, consistently, keep on keeping on. Christians should never ever give up, this is what you could call a holy stubbornness.

But I think there's something else that Jesus wants to emphasize in this prayer in this Luke chapter 11 passage. He wants to emphasize not only persevering prayer, but also the personal nature of prayer, at least in two ways. Look how he starts off, you go back to verse 2 of the same chapter, chapter 11, “And he said to them, ‘When you pray say, ‘Father, Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.’” So he focuses in upon the Father, a person, the Father, God is our Father. And then you go right to the back end of the same prayer section, verse 13. Look what he says, “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father.” So he brings us back to the Father, he begins focusing upon the Father, he closes off focusing upon the Father.

But then the parable itself, I do think it has this emphasis as well, the personal matter of prayer. He picks up the word friend three times. Look at verse 5, “And he said to them, ‘Which of you has a friend who will come to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves’”, then you have that word friend again in verse 6. So what you have here is a friend coming to a friend, wanting to help a friend. That's why it's a three friend parable.

And God is really putting himself under the image of a friend and that shouldn't surprise us. I wonder if Jesus had in mind (we don't know it or not), but did he have in mind Moses and Abraham? They are called friends of God.

God is not a peer friend, he's a father friend you could say. I've often heard people say, “My best friend is my father”, and that's not a bad thing. We could say as Christians, “My best friend, (you could say Jesus), but my best friend is my Father.” We should be reluctant to think of God in both terms. My Father, that's how we often most frequently think of God, but also my friend. And again, why did Jesus give this strong emphasis on the personal nature of friend? I think to encourage us to keep on praying. You're not coming to some distant relative; you're not coming to somebody who doesn't even know you, you're coming to your Father, you're coming to your friend. He's the best of fathers, he's the best of friends. Some people think it's crazy that Christians pray and we keep on praying in the midst of uncertainty and perplexity and even the tragedies of life. Some say that's a waste of time and we say, “No, no, no, God hears us and God will answer.” Now we don't know when, it's not on our timetable, but we know this, he will do whatever he does for us, for his glory and for our good.

So we come to a father, we come to a friend. As we go to prayer, let's remember again that we have a father and that we are very dear to our Father in heaven, we are his children but we also come to a friend.