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Getting Prayer Right Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
August 10, 2021 1:00 am

Getting Prayer Right Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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August 10, 2021 1:00 am

Prayer can be a great mystery, and many wonder if God really listens. Jesus left us a pattern for prayer, an outline of how we are to approach God. In this message we sit with the disciples and learn from the Lord’s Prayer.

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Jesus left us a pattern for prayer, an outline of how we are to approach God. When the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray as they saw Him pray, His answer was the famous Lord's Prayer.

Now we can learn as they did. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we're in the parables of Jesus, and today our focus will be on Luke chapter 11. Yes, Dave, it's not only about the Lord's Prayer that all of us, of course, are familiar with, but actually a parable that grows out of the Lord's Prayer.

And I need to tell you, it's not an easy parable to interpret. But nonetheless, Jesus put it there to remind us of the need of persistent prayer. About two days ago, my wife and I were out with a couple who are praying for their children. And their children have not yet turned to the Lord, but they are persistent in their prayers. And I believe that God will eventually answer because He answers persistent prayers.

Let me ask you something. Would you contribute to the ministry of Running to Win and help us get the gospel of Jesus Christ in more than 20 different countries in three different languages? Well, right now we have a matching gift challenge. Some of our sponsors have said that they are willing to match any gift given up to $90,000. That means $5 becomes 10 and all the way along the line.

Would you consider that? Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com.

That's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen to the prayer of Jesus as He teaches us to pray and to pray with persistence. I have a friend who says that for many people, prayer is something like an oxygen mask on a plane. You're glad that it's there, but you're thankful that you've never had to use it.

But in the case of an emergency, you hope you'd be able to know how to use it. We've all heard flight attendants give us the specifics as to how it can be put over our faces and take care of your child first. But in all of the times I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles, we have never needed an oxygen mask.

One time in Russia, the oxygen masks did fall, but that was equipment failure. We didn't need it. Is that the way in which you view prayer? I have an ambitious goal today, and that is to transform forever your understanding of prayer so that you will not see it as an oxygen mask, but something without which you cannot live, so that you begin to relate to God differently because you understand God differently. As a matter of fact, you cannot really understand prayer unless you properly understand God, and most of our hangups about prayer are as a result of the fact that we do not properly understand the Lord our God and what He's up to. For example, if you believe in need-based prayer, that the idea of prayer is to get something from God, I can tell you two things about you.

First of all, when you don't have any need for that oxygen mask, you're going to think it's because of the strength of your own right hand or simply because you have it coming to you or something that you can assume. And then if you don't get what you want from God, you will become bitter and angry. You'll say like one man did to me, God is not worth a plug-nickel to me, he said after his child died. If you look at prayer that way, as need-based, you will eventually give up on God, give up on prayer, and go your own way, probably with a tinge of bitterness.

Well, we're going to solve all that today, hopefully. We're going to help us look at prayer so differently, and for that I want you to take your Bibles. This is a series of messages entitled, You Can't Redo Life, how the parables help us to get it right the first time. If you were not here last time to hear the message on getting conversion right, the sower and the seed, may I encourage you to listen to that message because all of these hang together and the implications are overwhelming. But today it's the 11th chapter of Luke, Luke chapter 11, where we're going to speak about prayer and then we're going to wind it up and help us to understand how prayer should be thought of and the difference that it will make in our lives. Jesus is there with the disciples and they say in Luke chapter 11, that's page 869 if you have a Bible that is there in the seat in front of you, Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he finished one of the disciples said, Lord, teach us to pray.

Isn't that interesting they didn't say, Lord, teach us to be successful. Lord, teach us how we might better relate to one another, all of which maybe has its importance at times, but teach us to pray. Are you here today willing to learn to pray from Jesus?

That's the agenda. Now, notice first of all, as Jesus introduces this model prayer, sometimes called the Lord's Prayer, but really Jesus could not have prayed this prayer because it involves the forgiveness of sins. But as we look at this model prayer, Jesus begins by saying, Father, hallowed be thy name. Now I need to tell you that there are different versions of the Lord's Prayer in the gospels. And the reason for this is Jesus probably gave this instruction many times. Nobody was there with a recorder.

Nobody was writing it down immediately. The disciples were learning all these things. So Jesus undoubtedly went over them. So some of the versions have the Lord's Prayer in different language or it may even add a phrase or subtract a phrase as the case may be. But the essence is the same. Jesus said, Father, hallowed be your name. First of all, in terms of characteristics of prayer, prayer is always relational.

It's always relational. Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. It has to do with the fatherhood of God.

And notice that our first concern is for what? It's for the Father, the Father's glory, the fame of the Father's name throughout the whole world. Hallowed be thy name.

One of the reasons that we do evangelism is because we want more tongues giving glory to God. We want to honor God and we want to see him honored in more lives. And so we speak here about the Father's glory, the Father's faithfulness. Give us this day our daily bread, the Father's mercy.

Forgive us our trespasses. Everything has to do with God because prayer ultimately is relational. It's our ability to relate to God as Father, which didn't happen in the Old Testament. But Jesus gave us a brand new intimacy with the Father that others didn't experience. As he said to Mary, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.

Now, the fact that we relate to God as Father means that we have brothers and sisters in the family. Do you notice in this prayer that there is no such thing as a single pronoun? That is to say, a pronoun that is singular.

Everything is plural. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. Give us this day, not give me, but give us this day our daily bread. Forgive our debts and our trespasses, always plural. Because in the New Testament, the whole implication and teaching is that we live the Christian life in community. We are in contact with our brothers and in contact with our sisters and so we come unitedly. We come with needs that are united at the foot of the cross. And sometimes we pray individually, but we also pray collectively.

And that's why it is so important that we learn to do that. So first of all, prayer is relationship. Secondly, prayer yields to the will of God. Now, you'll notice that Jesus said, for example, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. Other versions of the prayer say, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Is prayer easy or is it work? Have you ever heard people say, you know, prayer is hard work? And you say, not for me. I mean, I come before God. I lay out all of my requests.

Where is the work? When we come before God, the work and the agony sometimes you hear people talking about wrestling with God. Some of you maybe have never wrestled with God. It is not so much that we are getting God to do our will, but it is submission to his will.

And sometimes that is very difficult to do. The best illustration, of course, is Jesus in Gethsemane. Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. We look at Jesus wrestling with God and all the people who have accomplished something for God. All of those who have come to know God will wrestle with God at some point in yieldedness. If your prayer does not lead to yieldedness before God, if it does not have that component, you haven't really prayed, as will become clear in a moment. Then there's another characteristic, and that is persistence in prayer. And here we get to the parable now, a parable that has often been misunderstood.

And with God's help, we hope that we'll clarify what Jesus was after. He said to them, Which of you 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.

My children are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything. Jesus said, 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.

That's a word, by the way, we're going to have to comment on. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks, receive. The one who seeks finds. The one who knocks, it will be opened.

Just that far. We don't understand this unless we understand Middle East hospitality. In those days, if a friend came to visit you and you didn't have anything to give him, that was huge, huge social injustice. Hospitality was critical. So here's a man and a friend comes on a long journey and he doesn't know that the friend is coming.

No emails, no fax machines, no cell phones. The man arrives at midnight because he was delayed somewhere and he comes to his friend and says, I'm here to spend the night, by the way. And the friend says, you're welcome, but that friend has no bread to give him. So he gets up and he goes to his friend's house because he knows that even though he doesn't have any bread, his friend is the kind of family that always has some leftover because they have quite a few children and they usually bake more bread than they need. And he goes to him and begins to knock on his door and saying, I know it's midnight, but I need some bread for a friend who has come. Now, nobody goes to a friend's home at midnight unless the reason for doing that is very critical. This is huge.

I need something to give my friend. And now the question is the man is in bed and you need to understand that in those days, many homes were one room. There was sort of a platform, a secondary platform on which sometimes there was a stove and sometimes the parents slept up there and the kids downstairs.

So now it's midnight and all the kids are sleeping and everybody in the home is asleep. And so the man thinks to himself, I mean, how impertinent to be knocking at this hour. But Jesus said that even though he will not get up and give it to him because of his friend, he will because of his impudence. What does that word mean? You know, it is a puzzling word because this is the only place, I believe, in the New Testament where it occurs. Some people translate it boldness, audacity, persistence. Another word, though, it's translated by is shamelessness.

Now follow this just for a moment. If the word is shamelessness, it may refer to the man who is in bed. What Jesus is saying, even though he doesn't want to stand up and give him the food because they're friends, he will because he doesn't want to be shamed the next day. Because word would spread. I asked a man at midnight for bread and he wouldn't get up and give it to me even though he had some bread.

That would be bad. Either way, the emphasis in this passage has to do with persistence. And if we don't notice that, Jesus clarifies. He says, because of this, verse 9, I tell you, ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you.

For everyone who asks receive, the one who seeks finds, the one who knocks, it will be opened. Then Jesus goes on and says, 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 he give him a scorpion?

I'm told that when scorpions curl themselves up, they sometimes look like an egg and sometimes a fish looks like a serpent. Jesus is saying, this would be really mean, you know, the child asks for a fish and you give him a snake and he asks for an egg and you give him a scorpion. Jesus said, no father would do that.

No father in his right mind would do that. But then Jesus said in verse 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? What I'd like to do now is to give you three transforming lessons as we unpack this parable and give it more clarity. And I hope that as a result of what I'm going to say, you will be anxious to leave here and have an experience with the Lord, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow morning, and it will change your prayer life forever. I don't think that in this passage the idea is that Jesus is comparing God to the man who was asleep at midnight and was rudely awakened. God isn't the kind of person who, oh Lord, you're sleeping and I have to catch a plane at O'Hare early.

Is it okay if I wake you up so that I can talk with you or are you still tired, Lord? The idea is not comparison between God and these people who are involved in the parable. The idea is not at all comparison. It is actually contrast.

Contrast. Now let's keep that in mind and see how this changes our idea of prayer. First of all, you notice that Jesus goes from friendship to sonship. If a friend is willing to give you some bread at midnight, what about a son and a father? The father is willing to give him good gifts.

Then what about your heavenly father? Because you are sons and daughters and that's a game changer. It changes the relationship instantly. It is now a relational idea. It's not just, God, I'm coming to you because I want you to do this. It is, oh Father, I love you and I love to be with you. I hope that God forgives us as grandparents for the lies that we tell about our grandchildren.

I think he will. Let's take, for example, if I were vacuuming, and by the way, I often do the vacuuming in our home. I thought I'd just mention that and let that float out there and let it land wherever it's supposed to land, all right? Let's suppose I'm vacuuming and little Samuel is there, perhaps at the age of three, though he's much older now, or Owen when they're three, and say, would you help Papa vacuum?

They call me Papa. Oh yeah, sure. So after they help Papa vacuum, I say to Rebecca, oh little Owen, he really helped Papa vacuum today.

Helped? Are you kidding? I mean, it took 15 minutes longer because he was helping me vacuum. Why do we put up with that? It's because we love our children and our grandchildren and we're just delighted to see them, even if they make more work for us, we're just delighted that they show up. My friend, as a son and daughter of God, God is glad if you just show up. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. Interestingly, I have in my hands a letter from a grandfather who says that he has an autistic grandson. And if I might summarize, the grandfather says that his grandson is agitated until the radio is turned on and they hear the ministry of Moody Church Media. And when he hears that, even though he is nonverbal, he calms down and obviously experiences it with joy.

You know, it's because of letters like that. We are so encouraged as a result of this ministry. Would you consider helping us? We're actually in the middle of a matching gift campaign. That is to say some of our sponsors have said that they are willing to match gifts up to $90,000. That means $20 becomes 40, 50 becomes 100.

Would you consider helping us? Here is what you do. For more information, you can go to RTWOffer.com. Of course, RTWOffer is all one word. RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. We look to people just like you to help us because together we are making a difference. Whether your gift is small or large, it is very much appreciated.

Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thanks for holding our hands together here at Running to Win. It's time for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Balancing family and career can get tough, especially in today's economy.

Rosa Linda writes with today's dilemma, I'm a CPA and I have a two year old daughter. My husband said that women in the Bible were also working mothers and so there's nothing wrong with me working outside the home. He says we're spending quality time with our daughter, even if it's only a few hours a day. Unfortunately, my heart does not agree with him. But since I believe that he is the head of the family, he has the last word. I've been praying for more than a year now that if God wants me to quit, then he'll enlighten my husband's mind. Is my husband right?

Rosa Linda, your heart, I believe, is right. I know that this isn't very popular, but the role of the mother is in the home. And I don't believe that it's possible to give our children the same kind of care when the mother works outside of the home. I wish that your husband would see that, particularly if you are a family that can make it economically on his paycheck alone. What we see in today's society frequently, especially single mothers, they have no option. They have to work outside the home because they have to keep body and soul together. They have rent to pay and clothes to buy.

My heart goes out to them. I think it's very important for you to recognize that whoever babysits your daughter can never take your place. And so whenever couples have an option, I encourage the woman to stay at home, the mother to be there for her child.

But you're also right in saying that your husband has the last word on this issue. So I hope that you continue to think and to pray and to ask God to change his heart that he might see the bigger picture, because I think your two-year-old daughter is the bigger picture. Thanks for writing. God bless you, and I hope that you have a good day. Thank you, Rosalinda. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can. Just go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. In a parable on prayer, Jesus contrasts two kinds of responses to a man expressing a need, as a man's friend or as his son. Here we learn how eager God is to answer his children's cries. Next time on Running to Win, more inspiring lessons on a subject that for some is a mystery. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-16 14:45:53 / 2023-09-16 14:54:32 / 9

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