Today on Renewing Your Mind, Why Do We Pray? So the purpose of our prayer is not to go through a grocery list of things that we need in order to inform God of our situation. He already knows it. Well, if He already knows it, and He's inclined to give these things, why bother to ask?
Well, that question has been asked for ages. God is sovereign over all things, so what do our prayers accomplish? Today on Renewing Your Mind, R.C. Sproul will address that question and help us realize the great privilege we have to come to our heavenly Father in prayer. Well, we're going to continue our study of the gospel according to Saint Luke, and we are in the eleventh chapter, and today I'll be reading from verse 5 through verse 13. And He said to them, Which of you shall have a friend and go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him. And he will answer from within and say, Do not trouble me, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot rise and give to you. I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given to you.
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. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Again, we have been very privileged to hear from Jesus. These are His words which are given to us in sacred Scripture through the superintendence and inspiration of God the Holy Spirit for our instruction, our reproof, our edification and training in righteousness.
Please receive them as such. Let us pray. Now, our Father, as we continue to understand more deeply how we are to pray, and to whom it is that we do pray, we ask that by your Spirit you will condescend in this hour to help us in our understanding. For we ask it in Jesus' name.
Amen. It's not by accident that this parable in Luke's gospel is situated immediately following Jesus' teaching on the Lord's Prayer, because the parable is put here to illustrate more fully some of the important elements and dynamics of prayer. And the little story that Jesus tells is a story about a man and two of his friends, and it is told by way of Jesus asking a question. He says, Which of you shall have a friend and go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves? For a friend of mine has come to see me on his journey, and I don't have provisions for him. You know from your reading of the Old Testament that one of the most important principles that God enjoins upon His people under the Old Covenant is the principle of hospitality, the principle of taking care of sojourners, and not just friends, but even strangers who are in your midst. And in this case Jesus tells of a man who receives an unexpected visit from one of his friends, and because it was unexpected he wasn't prepared. He didn't have the extra food needed to provide it for his visitor.
But he had another friend, perhaps his next-door neighbor. And what do we do when we run out of flour or run out of sugar? We go with our hands open to our neighbor and say, Can you loan me some flour or loan me some sugar or bread or whatever it is we need?
And this is part of the reciprocity that we enjoy in any kind of human community. And so again Jesus is putting this in the form of a question. Your friend goes next door and said, I have an unexpected visitor. I don't have any food. Can you loan me three loaves of bread, flat bread as it were, so I can feed him? And Jesus is saying, Can you imagine that your friend next door says to you, Go away?
It's too late. I'm already in bed with my kids and the door is shut. He said, What neighbor would do something like that? But even if your friend were reluctant to get up and answer your request, if for no other reason, even apart from your friendship, by your persistence, he'll be annoyed enough to put an end to it and get up and give you whatever you need. And so Jesus tells this little story to illustrate a very important principle about praying where He said, So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. Now I can't imagine there's anybody in this room today who's never read the Bible, but if you haven't, you've probably heard these words a few times in your life. Ask, it will be given. Seek, you shall find.
Knock, it shall be opened to you. Now the first thing I want to observe here is that again, in the context of praying, we looked last week at the focus of the Lord's Prayer being the focus of the kingdom of God. And it was not about our particular special needs where we use prayer simply as a lever to induce God to give us particular things that we desire. But Jesus is not saying that it's wrong to ask God for things that we need or things that we would like Him to do.
He's not saying Him to do. And so He encourages us right here by saying, Ask. Elsewhere He tells us, You have not because you ask not. And so we're encouraged by Christ and by the apostles to bring our requests before God. Now at the same time the Bible tells us that the Father knows what we need before we ask Him. So the purpose of our prayer is not to go through a grocery list of things that we need in order to inform God of our situation. He already knows it. Well, if He already knows it and He's inclined to give these things, why bother to ask? Well, again, the purpose of asking is not for God's benefit.
It's for us. Jesus is saying, Come here in your prayers. Open your heart.
Tell the Father your concerns. He knows them, of course, but He wants to hear from you. And He knows that it's good for you that you have the opportunity to come to Him and pour out your heart to Him. And so Jesus says, Ask, and it'll be given. Seek, and ye shall find here again one of the most misunderstood portions of the entire New Testament, a misunderstanding that has brought in its wake what's been called a revolution in worship in our day, where worship now has been designed in many churches throughout the land, not as a time of the offering of the sacrifice of praise by believers coming together one day out of seven to offer worship to God, but rather it's been structured now as an arena for evangelism where we want to bring people who are outside of the faith in the church on Sunday morning, and so we tailor the Sunday morning service to accommodate the unbeliever. And this is called being seeker sensitive, sensitive to those unbelievers who are seeking after God, but as of yet have not found Him, with the hope that in this worship service and in this gathering those unbelievers who are seeking God will now come to faith and find the God of their quest.
The only problem with this strategy is that it is completely and utterly utterly doomed to failure with respect to its primary objective. If we tailor worship for unbelieving seekers, we are tailoring our worship for no one, because there's no such thing as an unbeliever who is seeking after God. Doesn't the New Testament make that abundantly clear? To refresh your memory, let me read briefly from Paul's letter to the Romans. We're quoting the psalmist of the Old Testament.
He says, where we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks, this is chapter 3 of Romans, verse 9, that they are all under sin, as it is written, there's none righteous. No, not one. There's none who understands. There is none who seeks after God. And he goes on to say, no, not one. The natural disposition of unconverted, fallen human beings is not a disposition of seeking after God. There's not a one of them who seeks after God.
No, not one. The natural activity of the unbeliever is not to seek after God but to flee from God. That's our natural disposition. By nature, we are fugitives. Think of Paul on the road to Damascus. For what was he seeking? He was not seeking Christ. He was seeking Christians that he might destroy them. What were you seeking for when you came to faith?
Well, we hear it always in the Christian world. My friend's not a believer, but he's searching, or she's searching. That's how we look at these people who seem to be searching after Christ. And we say, well, let's help them in their quest. Let's tailor our worship to facilitate their search. And yet the Bible says they're not searching. Now, who's telling the truth?
Telling the truth? You and your perception and your judgment, or God and His infinite wisdom, who says no one seeks after God? This question was once raised to Thomas Aquinas. And the question came like this, Dr. Angelicus, Dr. Aquinas, why is it that all around us we seem to find people who are searching after God, and yet the Bible says that no one seeks after God?
How can that be? And Aquinas in his peculiar wisdom answered the question this way. He said, you see your friends, you see your neighbors searching for happiness. They're searching for meaning in their lives. They're searching for healing from their afflictions.
They're searching for relief from the paralysis of their guilt. What you see is people searching for those things that you know only God can give them. And so then you rush to the conclusion that since they're searching for the gifts of God, they must be searching for God.
But no, the problem with fallen humanity is that in our fallen nature we want the gifts of God without God. And so we delude ourselves when we think that unbelievers seek after God. Well, on the other on the other hand, as paradoxical as this might sound, I am strongly in favor of seeker-sensitive worship. I want the worship at St. Andrews to be seeker-sensitive. However, I know that only believers are seekers, and so I'm hoping that we can structure our worship for believers. You know, I used to see this sign on everybody's bumper around the city, I found it.
No, you didn't find anything. It found you. The seeking of the kingdom of God, which Jesus said is to be our top priority when He said, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Everything else will be added unto you. You don't begin to seek God until you're converted. And once you're converted, that's not the end of the search, beloved.
It's the beginning of the search. Edwards put it this way, the seeking after God is the main and central business of the Christian life. The day we met Christ was the day we started a lifelong pursuit to know Him more deeply and more fully. And so, let's understand that that seeking is something that is the business of the believer. And Jesus says to those who are believers and who are seeking, that if you seek, you will find. Again, Jesus is giving this in the context of prayer for believing people.
Search Him with all of your heart, and you will find Him more deeply every day. Finally, He says, knock, and it will be opened unto you. Again, let me take you to the last book in the New Testament, the book of Revelation, where we read in the third chapter of Revelation Jesus' statements to the churches of Asia Minor, where He gives rebuke and also compliments to various aspects of the churches that He finds. And He says to those who are the lukewarm church, as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Therefore, be zealous and repent. For behold, I stand at the door and knock. And if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me. Now, how many times have you heard this text used in the context of evangelism, where the gospel is preached and then the preacher says, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you will open the door and ask Jesus into your heart, He will come in and abide with you forever.
Well, there are two things I want to say about that. First of all, initially, in the context in which this verse is given, it's not an evangelistic context. Jesus is not knocking on the hearts of unbelievers. He's knocking at the door of the church. Now, that may seem strange because we like to think that our church is open for anybody to come in. And certainly, our doors are always open for Jesus to come in. And the Lord Jesus Christ, whose church it is, shouldn't have to knock to come into His church. However, there are tens of thousands of churches in this world from whose entrance way Christ is forbidden.
The last person invited into those churches is Christ Himself. But secondly, I have a theological concern for this application of the text that was addressed initially to the church and not to the unbeliever, that when we say to the unbeliever, Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, and if you open your heart, He will come in and you please ask Jesus to come into your heart. Jesus doesn't knock on the door of people's heart. You don't become converted because Jesus asked you to let Him into your life and you, in your unregenerate state, stirred yourself from your spiritual death and opened the door to your heart so that He could come in.
That's not how it works. When Jesus enters the heart of the unbeliever, He doesn't bother to knock. He comes in, and then He opens the door for you. It's Christ who lets Himself into our hearts to abide with us forever through His grace. If Jesus knocked on the heart of the unregenerate man and asked him to open and let him in, Jesus would be knocking forever, and no one would open the door.
Dead people don't open doors, and we are by nature spiritually dead. But Jesus does knock on the door of His people's hearts. He comes to us in the weakness of our faith, in the feebleness of our devotion, and invites us to go into a deeper personal relationship with Him. In just a few moments, our Lord, who's already come in the door, will be at His table to feed you, to bless you with His presence. And as the end of the parable suggests, what He will give you is what you need, what will nourish you and strengthen you this day and forevermore. For Jesus said, if a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Daddy, please, can I have a piece of bread? Sure. Here. Here's a rock. Chew on that. What kind of a father would do something like that?
Or Jesus said, if He asks for a fish, He says, you want a fish? Here. Here's a rattlesnake.
Chew on that. What kind of a father would do that? Or if He asks for an egg, He says, you want it over easy, sunny side up?
While you're waiting, play with this scorpion. I mean, Jesus uses the absurd to indicate how far this is removed. And the final point of the parable, which follows the strategy that Jesus uses with parables all the time, it is not like this where He says, if a earthly father who's a sinner will give good things to his son, so God who is perfectly holy and righteous will give good things to His people.
No, no, no. The comparison is like this. If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? These parables of Jesus illustrate the principle of asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and having the door open to us.
God is our good Father, and He desires to give us good gifts. R.C. Sproul's sermon series through the Gospel of Luke is our focus each Sunday here on Renewing Your Mind, and it's allowing us to dig deeply into each passage of this book. Our resource offer today is a Bible study tool that I think you'll return to again and again.
Contact us today and request a digital download of R.C. 's commentary on Luke in nearly 600 pages. You'll find helpful insight into every verse.
To receive it, just contact us today with a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. In addition to sermons like we heard today, Ligonier Ministries offers teaching series on many other topics like Christian living, theology, church history, and cultural issues. You can find a broad selection of teaching in our online learning community called Ligonier Connect. You can get involved with interactive video courses and learn at your own pace. Find out more when you go to connect.ligonier.org. I hope you have a great week, and please make plans to join us again next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 19:52:57 / 2022-12-23 20:00:49 / 8