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Parable of the Friend at Midnight

Luke 11:1-13

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1. In studying the parables of Jesus, we have seen how He used the parabolic method of teaching on different subjects....

   a. Mostly on the theme of the kingdom of heaven

   b. But also in response to questions by His disciples and even His enemies.

 

2. One such parable was told in response to a question related to prayer...

   a. Jesus had been praying in a certain place - Lk 11:1

   b. When He ceased praying, one of His disciples asked:  "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples"

 

3. In answering that request, Jesus did three things...

   a. He first told them "how" and "what" to pray for

   b. He then told a parable to stress a crucial element in "how" to pray

   c. He followed up by elaborating on what the parable was designed to illustrate

 

4. The parable is known as "The Friend at Midnight"

   a. It is recorded in Lk 11:5-8

   b. In it we find Jesus illustrating the importance of "persistence in prayer"

 

[Let's begin our study by noticing that...]

 

I.      JESUS' PRAYING PROMPTS A REQUEST

 

   A. HE HAD BEEN PRAYING IN A CERTAIN PLACE - Lk 11:1a

      1. In the gospels we see glimpses into the prayer habits of Jesus

         a. Rising early to pray in a solitary place - Mk 1:35

         b. Often withdrawing into the wilderness to pray - Lk 5:16

         c. Praying all night in preparation to selecting His apostles

            - Lk 6:12-13

         d. His beautiful prayer recorded in Jn 17

         e. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane - Mt 26:36-44

         f. His prayers on the cross - Mt 27:46; Lk 23:34, 46

      2. Undoubtedly His example had an impact on those who saw Him praying

 

   B. A DISCIPLE WANTS JESUS TO TEACH THEM TO PRAY - Lk 11:1b

      1. Even as John had taught his disciples

      2. Certainly this Jewish disciple knew how to pray in some sense, but understood that Jesus had so much more to teach him

     

[We may know how to pray, but we can always learn more from the Master of prayer...and we learn by hearing prayers and by practicing and praying ourselves.]

 

II.    JESUS ANSWERS BY TEACHING A MODEL PRAYER

The Lord’s Prayer.  See sermon here.

 

III.   THE PARABLE OF THE FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT

 

   A. THE PARABLE SUMMARIZED...

      1. You find yourself with company and inadequate provisions

 

      2. Yet you know that you can go to your friend's house and borrow some food

 

      3. Even if it late at night, and...

         a. He and his family are already in bed

         b. He would normally not help you, even though you are a friend

         ...yet you know that if you "persist", he will help you! - Lk

            11:5-8

 

   B. THE POINT OF THE PARABLE IS SIMPLE, BUT IMPORTANT...

      1. Jesus is illustrating the importance of "persistence in praying"

 

      2. One does not know "how" to pray, then, unless they learn to be persistent in prayer!

 

[The importance of persistence is stressed even further as we consider...]

 

IV. JESUS' APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE

 

   A. THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSISTENCE - Lk 11:9-10

      1. It is those who ask, seek, and knock, who will receive, find, and have doors opened

 

      2. The element of persistence is implied even in...

         a. The present progressive tense of the verbs for "ask", "seek", and "knock" (literally, "keep on asking", "keep on seeking",  and "keep on knocking"

         b. The progressive relation between the words:

            1) One normally starts out by "asking"

            2) As they learn more, they begin "seeking"

            3) As they arrive close to their destination, they start "knocking"

 

Ill.—I’m not much of a cook, and even when I do, it’s just by means of the 4 basic food groups—frozen, canned, instant, and micro waved.  So when my wife, who is a good cook, asked me to go to the store for ‘cream of tartar’, I proudly marched off stating I needed no help from her in locating it.  Off I went, absolutely sure I knew what I was doing and would find it in the condiment section.  Nope.  Ok, well, there’ll be some near the fish, right?  Everybody likes tartar with that, I thought! 

 

Well, I couldn’t call her, not after she offered to help and I boasted of my ability to find it.  So I asked a stranger.  She said it’s with the spices.  Well, finding the spices was hard enough, and as I gazed at the hundreds of little jars they all ran together, and I had no idea what I was looking for or even why this tartar stuff would be in that area.  “Maybe I’ll just get some mayo and relish and she can cream her own tartar!”  I thought.

 

So, I had asked, no help.  Then I decided to seek.  I figured that lady didn’t know what she was talking about, so back to the condiments I went.  I looked at every bottle, slowly, one by one.  I was seriously seeking.  But it wasn’t until I finally humbled myself that I got my answer.  No, I didn’t call my wife and admit my ignorance…I went back to the big metal door and knocked and got professional help!  And not only did I find cream of tartar that day…I also found out what it really is!

 

      3. Failure to persist in prayer, then, may be one reason some prayers go unanswered!

 

   B. REMEMBERING WHO IT IS YOU ARE ASKING - Lk 11:11-13

 

Ill.—this is an illustration from Jesus about the bond between parents and children.  It’s hard for me to say no to my oldest son…even harder w/ my youngest son, but impossible when it comes to my daughter!  I know she plays me like a wind up radio, but I don’t care…my heart can’t tell her no!  Is that because she’s a girl? I don’t think so, because I’m a boy and yet my wife tells me no all the time!  “Down boy!”

 

      1. To encourage persistence in prayer, Jesus speaks of earthly fathers and their sons

         a. If a son asks his father for bread, will he give him a stone?

         b. If he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead?

         c. If he asks for an egg, will the father offer him a scorpion?

         -- Each of these rhetorical questions imply a definite "No!"

 

      2. Then how much more will our heavenly Father give us that which is good?

         a. If earthly fathers, though evil, know how to give good gifts to their children

         b. How much more will our heavenly Father give the Spirit to those who ask Him?

         c. This reference to the Holy Spirit may relate to promise of the Spirit

            1) A promise made by Jesus on another occasion - Jn 7:37-39

            2) A promise offered by Peter on the day of Pentecost - Ac

               2:38-39

 

      3. Jesus' point seems to be this:

         a. If persistence with a friend will prove fruitful (cf. the parable)...

         b. If earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children...

         ...how much more will persistence prove fruitful with our Heavenly Father!

 

BALANCE

So, why did Paul only ask for God to remove his thorn in the flesh 3 times in II Cor. 12?  Because God answered his prayer!  His answer was no.  To continue to demand our way is to be a spoiled child in the checkout line at the grocery store, demanding our candy!  But until God answers, we should be persistent in our prayers like George Mueller who prayed for decades for lost loved ones to be saved.  He knew it was God’s will that they be saved, he needed only to continue to pray for God’s will to be done.

 

PUSH= Pray until something happens!

 

CONCLUSION

 

1. We may know "how" to pray when it comes to saying the right things, but from this parable we learn that we do not know "how" to pray until we have learned to pray with "persistence".

 

2. So important is this quality of prayer that Jesus taught another parable on the very same theme! (cf. "The Parable of the Persistent Widow" - Lk 18:1-8)

 

3. But for now, let's remember what we have learned from Jesus at "the school of prayer"...

   a. That we have a heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts

      to His children

   b. That this should motivate us to ask, and to ask persistently!

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