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This is Why Prayer is Possible!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 28, 2023 12:00 am

This is Why Prayer is Possible!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 28, 2023 12:00 am

After teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus demonstrates the effectiveness of prayer with two parables designed to help us learn more about the heart and desires of God. We not only need to learn what to say when we pray, and what attitude to pray with, but also when and why to pray. These two stories illustrate the readiness of God to hear our prayers, and the reliance we can have on His goodness.

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The critical principle of prayer to remember, which is really a description of the nature of God the Father, here it is. Prayer is possible because God the Father is always reachable. Prayer is possible because God the Father is always, not just available, but reachable.

He will never come to him, even if it's over and over again, and find him at any case and point uninterested. Our problem in praying is we don't understand our Father very well. After teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus demonstrates the effectiveness of prayer.

He did it by sharing two parables. These parables were designed to help us learn more about the heart and desires of God. We not only need to learn what to say when we pray, and what attitude to pray with, but also why to pray. Two stories illustrate the readiness of God to hear our prayers, and the reliance we can have on his goodness. Today, Stephen Davy concludes his series called, The Disciples Prayer.

He's called this message, This is Why Prayer is Possible. We've been working our way through Luke's Gospel, if you're new to our fellowship. We're in chapter 11, and the Lord has just finished teaching his disciples how to pray. Although we took nine sermons or so to unpack the meaning of each word, Jesus has taught them a model prayer that takes no more than two minutes to pray. Well now he's finished, and we finished our study of this prayer we call, The Disciples Prayer. Down here in verse 4, he wraps it up. I just imagine, frankly, at least if I'd been among the disciples, they're just sitting there and thinking, that's it. That's it.

That's all? That's how we're going to get the attention of our Heavenly Father? We're going to get his attention with a two minute prayer?

Really? I believe Jesus is reading their minds. He's aware of their questions. He's aware of their doubts, and yours and mine as well. He understands here that they don't know much, not only about prayer, but they probably know even less about God the Father.

That's a new concept. They weren't praying to God as Father. Jesus is teaching a rather radical approach and a relationship with the Father.

That's the deeper issue here. What's about to happen next is really a revelation about the person and the nature of the one to whom we pray. So Jesus comes to the end of teaching his disciples this model prayer, and without even hardly pausing to catch his breath, he launches into two parables about prayer.

I want you to get this ahead of time. These parables are designed to teach us a little about prayer, but a lot about the nature of our Father to whom we pray. The first parable begins here in Luke chapter 11, notice verse 5. 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?

These would be small loaves that would fit in the palm of your hand. For a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him. And he answers 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. Now before we go any further, the expression that Jesus uses to open this parable, which of you has a friend is a rhetorical question, it's expecting a negative answer. Nobody has a friend like that. He's sort of expecting that response. In other words, Jesus is asking, can any of you imagine a friend turning away his friend like this? And he's expecting us to say, of course not. We can't imagine any friend acting this way. But then again, it is possible, right?

Even a close friend would at least be somewhat reluctant to be inconvenienced like this. It might be helpful to understand that homes of ordinary people in this century, in this region, were built on two levels. One level higher, slightly higher, like a little platform above the lower level. And as still the case is in certain parts of the Middle East, the domestic animals at night, the goat and some chickens, maybe even the milk cow, were brought into the house and kept on the lower level where the family all slept on mats. They would all be together, no privacy, there on mats in the upper level. For a door to be locked, it would simply be a bar, wooden.

They had a little more money, be iron. It would be passed through rings attached to the door. They would slide it through those rings and then rings on the door frame. That would be locking the door.

During these days, people often traveled at night to avoid the heat of the Middle Eastern sun. They'd show up at homes of family members and friends. It would be, of course, unannounced. They weren't able to call ahead.

So get the setting. The animals have been brought in, those chickens and goats. The door's been locked. The animals are sleeping on the lower level, up on the mats.

The children are finally asleep. Thank the Lord, they're finally asleep. They're down for the night and a traveler, a friend, just so happens to be showing up.

Did you notice the Lord specifically mentions this event is taking place at midnight? It's like saying the worst possible time. Now, in this culture, hospitality was a matter of duty. It would be shameful to refuse it. In fact, to give someone a loaf of bread from which something had been broken, sort of like a leftover from lunch, would have been considered disgraceful in this culture.

Frankly, that's true to this day. You wouldn't offer your friend at dinner some of your leftover tuna fish sandwich you had at lunch. That would be disgraceful, and in this case, even more so. He has no fresh bread. All the loaves have been broken off and eaten from. So here's the dilemma. Nowhere to go. He can't run down to the food lion, pick up something. So he goes next door to his friend's home for help. That's the crisis here. That's the dilemma he needs help getting out of. And Jesus says, can you imagine a friend saying, look, my kids are down for the night. I'll out the door.

Don't bother me with your problems. Let's bring it into today's culture. It would be a little bit like this. It would be like a friend calling you in the middle of the night saying, my wife has just gone into labor. I need to get her to the hospital now, but my gas tank's empty. I should have filled it up. I didn't do it. Can I borrow your car to take my wife to the hospital?

Now, the obvious answer is yes. What kind of friend would say, the kids are down for the night. I already locked the door. It's midnight, for goodness sake. Besides, I've already turned the alarm on. If I turn it off, it's going to beep. If I turn it back on, it's going to beep again. It's going to wake up the kids and the dog and the cat.

I don't want to disturb the kids and the dog. It's in the Bible somewhere. So here in this parable, the guy won't go away. He keeps on knocking. Jesus says here in verse 8, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence, you could translate that, his audaciousness, he will rise and give him whatever he needs. Okay, he says, okay. Hold it down. I'm coming.

I'll let you in. Now, the average Christian reads this and says, okay, I get the point. I'm supposed to keep on pounding on the door because eventually God will give in and give me whatever I need. That is exactly the opposite point of what Jesus is making here. This parable is not a parable of comparison.

It is a parable of contrast. Your friend might do that. God is not like that friend. God is not reluctant like your friend is. God is not some sleepy man who doesn't want to be disturbed. No, that's how people are.

That's how we are. That's how good friends even can fail to help you out of a dilemma because it's just too much trouble. God the Father will never think you are a nuisance.

That's his point. He's never going to say, don't bother me with your little problem. You should have thought ahead. It's midnight. I'm not going to hell unless you keep banging away at the door. Now, what Jesus is teaching is the opposite. He reinforces it. Verse 9, I tell you. Let me tell you.

Let me explain this to you, how this works. Ask and it will be given. That's how willing God is.

That's how ready God is. Just show up. Ask.

Seek and you'll find. Knock and it's going to be opened. It's opened.

You don't have to keep banging. For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks, it will be opened. Now, you got a lot of questions in your mind right now as I certainly did.

Let me try to address some of them. There's nothing wrong with being persistent in prayer. In fact, persistence in prayer is really a reflection of your passion and your need. Persistence in praying isn't because God didn't hear you the first time.

It isn't because you got to wear them down. It isn't because only the squeaky prayer gets the oil of the spirit. I'm sure we can make up some kind of convoluted false teaching out of this. There's a lot of false teaching. If I just pound away and I knock until my knuckles are bloody, I'm going to finally get that reluctant God the Father to listen.

But haven't you thought that? That's how people are. Even good friends. That's not how your father acts.

I love the way Phillips Brooks wrote it a hundred years ago. Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of his willingness. Persistence is not an attempt to change God's mind but to get ourselves to the place where we accept his answer.

That's good. When you think about it, I love the way that's spoken because God does answer our prayer. It might not be the answer we want, but even the refusal is an answer from his love because he knows what's coming down the road. Haven't you had a prayer not get answered only because something else showed up later and it was, oh, okay. I understand now. I also want to make the statement that this prayer here is not a blank check.

It's used often that way. You ask him, you get it. If you don't get it, you didn't tap in right. So let me give you two or three secrets. And if you do it this way, boy, he just can't help himself. He'll back the truck up and give it to you. The Lord has already taught us in this prayer that we are praying for his kingdom agenda, not ours. We're praying for his rule and his reign in our lives. We're praying that he's sovereign and we aren't. We're praying that his will will be done on earth like it's done in heaven. We're aligning our will to his will when we pray. And it takes us a long time sometimes to get aligned where we accept his answer, where we trust his answer. See, the point that Jesus is making here is regardless of whatever that answer seems to be, you can always knock, you can always seek, you can always ask, and you don't have to get God out of bed.

He's always available. That's why throughout the testimony of the apostle Paul, you have this constant reference, this invitation to pray as a daily conversation. Without ceasing, he writes, I mention you in my prayers, Romans 1.9. I give thanks to my God always for you, 1 Corinthians 1.4. I do not cease to give thanks for you, Colossians 1.9. I continue steadfastly in prayer, Colossians 4.2, praying at all times in the spirit, Ephesians 6.18. I'm constantly mentioning you in my prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1.2. I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day, 2 Timothy 1.3. I'm praying without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5.17. Why? Well, to wear God down.

No. To revel in the fact, to rest in the fact, to identify with the fact that we cannot come to him too often. We cannot come to him with something too small.

I need three pieces of bread. We've been taught to pray for just one. You cannot come to him with the wrong timing. Oh, it's midnight.

I forgot. We will never come to him, even if it's over and over again, and find him at any case and point uninterested. Our problem in praying is we don't understand our Father very well, but he is always answering. His answer might be yes to what you asked for.

We love those. Yes, and you just keep moving. His answer might be no, not now. We respect the ministry of George Mueller greatly, who directed orphanages in England, saw many prayers answered. We retell those stories often, but many weren't answered. In fact, he would often tell believers when he spoke that he paraphrased Psalm 37.23 to say, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and his stops as well. A believer's steps and stops are ordered by the Lord.

They're part of his plan. So the answer might be yes. It might be no, not now. It might be no, not ever. The answer might be no, there's something better, something you never thought of, couldn't have conceived of the thought that something could be better until it occurred. This is the Apostle Paul praying three times for God to heal his thorn in the flesh.

We have no idea what that is, and that's great because every one of us can identify and we'll put ours in there. He prayed three times, and three times the Lord said, no, there's something better. And then Paul would later say, I have learned to boast in that thorn, that weakness, so that the sufficient grace of God would become apparent in my life. Whatever the answer might be, the critical principle of prayer to remember, which is really a description of the nature of God the Father, here it is. Prayer is possible because God the Father is always reachable. Prayer is possible because God the Father is always, not just available, but reachable. Let me give you the second point, which makes prayer possible, not only because the Father is reachable, but because he is honorable. That's the point of the second parable. That begins now in verse 11. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?

Or, if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? Well, obviously this is expecting a negative response. Just as the Lord effectively stated back in verse 5, can you imagine someone who has a friend that would do that? He's using the same construction here, leading us to say, in response, no, to his question, can you imagine a father doing this to a son? And we read that and we think, no way.

There's no possible. For a father to do that, how cruel that would be. What kind of father would pull those tricks on his son? A disgraceful, deceitful, dishonorable father.

A father who isn't playing the role of father, well at all. Jesus says, none of us can imagine that kind of cruel father. But it is possible.

It is possible. I was reminded of something I read years ago about J. Paul Getty Jr. His father was one of the richest men on the planet. At one time I believe the richest in the world. Paul Jr. rarely saw his father as he was raised in California by his mother. When Paul Jr. was in high school, he decided to write his father a letter just bearing his heart, telling his father some of the feelings that he had as a young teenager. He wrote the letter and sent it off. A few weeks later, he received back in the mail that letter, that same letter from his father with no response at all. Not a personal note, not a letter attached, just that letter only that his father had marked all the grammatical errors with a red pen. Paul Jr. said on one occasion, I have never gotten over that letter. You know what part of our challenge is, is that we've all had imperfect fathers.

Hopefully none like that, but it's possible. And coming to faith in Christ, being taught to approach him as you would approach your father brings to all of our minds the image of our earthly father. Some of you have had horrible examples of fathers. Some of you have had godly fathers, but even then, you have recognized error, unmet need. Why?

Because they're human. Jesus creates this example of about the worst you can imagine. What's an egg? It's a scorpion. What's a little fish? It's a worm.

But again, this is a contrast. This is not your heavenly father. He's perfect. He's often misunderstood.

Yeah, we get frustrated with him. We wonder where that answer is. But I want you to keep this in mind, and Jesus makes the point now at verse 13. If you then, fathers, who are evil, that is your sinful, your flawed, yet still the average father among you knows how to give good gifts to your children.

How many weeks is it till Christmas? You're dreading the sound of that. But you're going to do that. You're not going to put a scorpion under the tree.

If you do, counseling is available here. It's free. How much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Isn't it interesting that becomes the highest request? The gift of the Holy Spirit, which is going to include everything that comes with the Holy Spirit, the gift of discernment by the Holy Spirit, the gift of wisdom by the Holy Spirit, ransacked the New Testament, the gifts, the fruit of that Spirit that invades your life, which gives you joy and peace. You can't wrap that. Think of those gifts. All you have to do is ask. You can't come to Him too often. You can't come to Him at the wrong time. Prayer is possible because your heavenly Father is reachable.

You don't have a friend like Him. Prayer is possible because your heavenly Father is honorable. There's no Father on planet earth of the human race like that Father. See, the nature of our Father makes prayer possible.

So we make it a habit throughout the day to come to Him as often as we want. I have read that in nineteen eighty-two, the Today Show in New York City scheduled an interview with Billy Graham and when he arrived at the studio, one of the producers informed Graham's assistant that they had reserved a little private room for the reverend so he could pray. And that was a nice gesture, but the assistant told the producer that Mr. Graham would not need that room.

The producer was a little put off by that. How could this world-renowned evangelist not need to, you know, need to pray before he went on live national television? And he expressed that curiosity. Graham's assistant wisely responded and I'll read it. Mr. Graham started praying when he got up this morning. He prayed while eating his breakfast. He prayed on the way over here in the car and he will be praying all the way through your interview. See that incident is not just a revelation of Billy Graham's conversational prayer life.

It's a revelation of his understanding of the nature and person of God, the Father. You come to Him with the simplest and most sincere prayer. It can be a long prayer, a short prayer, a day-long conversation interrupted periodically by work.

It can follow the pattern here that he's taught us, the wonderful model. And in all our praying, we understand that we are coming to our Heavenly Father, exalting Him, surrendering to His will and His way and aligning our will to His agenda. That's how we pray and to whom we pray.

Why don't you say it with me as we close today? Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Stephen called this message, This is Why Prayer is Possible.

This brings to a close the series entitled The Disciples Prayer. If you missed any of the lessons along the way, we've posted them to our website. You can listen to the version we've created to fit this broadcast. And you can also listen to the full length sermons. Go to We have a section called Free Resources, and you'll find Stephen's full length sermons there. Tell us how God is using his word to equip and encourage you. Write to us at info at and then join us next time for more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-28 03:40:35 / 2023-04-28 03:49:41 / 9

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