July 24, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Genesis 18:20-32

Epistle Lesson; Colossians 2:6-15

Sermon Text; Luke 11:1-13

The Word of God we look at for today is taken from Luke, chapter 11. This is in Jesus, our Savior's name.

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” 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 rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened 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 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!”

This is God's Word.

In the last couple of weeks, as we have been going through the book of Luke, we have talked about how we should be Active in our Lives of Christian Service. We did that, as we looked at the account of The Good Samaritan.

Last week, we talked about how we should be Passive in Listening to God and His Word. We did that by looking at Mary, as she sat at the feet of Jesus, in the house of Martha.

Today, we focus on prayer, as the disciples ask Jesus this wonderful statement,

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

So, today I would like to do two things. First of all, I want to focus briefly on The Lord's Prayer and look at the question, “For what should we pray?”

Then, for the second half of the message this morning, I want to look at the question, “How should we pray?”
As Luke records The Lord's Prayer, it is a little shorter form than how Matthew records it. As Pastor Bartels said, earlier, The Lord's Prayer has an introduction, a conclusion, and seven petitions. Luke here, records five of those petitions for us. Let's look at what Jesus told His disciples, and what Jesus tells us, how it is we should pray.

Jesus said,

“You should pray,


hallowed be Your name.'”

(I am lumping together The Introduction, and The First Petition, there.) As we go before God in prayer, we should address Him as “Father”. God's name is holy among us, and we want God's name to be holy.

It reminds me, earlier in the book of Luke, when Jesus was twelve years old. His parents had lost their Son. They went back to Jerusalem, and where did they find Jesus? They found Him in the temple. Jesus said to His parents, “Didn't you know I needed to be in my Father's house?”

Later on in the book of Luke, (when we get to it), we are going to come to the account of the lost son, the son who got his inheritance, and spent it in wild living. After he had nothing left, he came to his senses, and what did he say? “I am going to go back home to my father”, and his father forgave him.

Jesus, here, is encouraging us to go before the Father in prayer.

Jesus said we should pray,

“Your Kingdom come”.

Already in the book of Luke, Jesus has taught us this point.

       -It was Jesus, Himself, who said, “I must go, and preach the Good News”.

       -It was Jesus who sent out the twelve disciples.

       -It was Jesus who also sent out seventy two others.

What were they to do? They were to take the Good News that had come to them, the Kingdom of God, and they were to take that Good News, which is the Kingdom of God, and share it with other people.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Already in the book of Luke, we have seen the account of the feeding of the five thousand, in which Jesus shared, miraculously, food with five thousand men, not including women and children!

It was just a few weeks ago, when I was going to visit a shut-in member. I pulled my car into the parking stall, put it in park, and shut the car off. Right in front of me, was a robin pulling out a worm. I stayed there for a moment, and just observed this robin. I thought to myself, “You know, this robin doesn't have a refrigerator. This robin isn't concerned about the food they will get for tomorrow. It is getting just what it needed for this day. The next day it will do the very same thing.”

That is what Jesus is teaching us, with this petition,

“Give us this day our daily bread”.

God certainly gives us the greatest thing we need, which I will talk about in a moment. If God, our Heavenly Father does that, we know He will give us all of our earthly, physical needs, as well.

“Forgive our sins,

as we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”

       -Already in the book of Luke, a man who was paralyzed, was brought by his friends to Jesus. They couldn't get to Jesus, because of the crowd. So, they took the roof apart, and they lowered the man down, right before Jesus. Do you know what Jesus said to him?

“Your sins are forgiven.”

       -There was a sinful woman who came to Jesus, just a couple chapters later. Because of her repentant heart, Jesus said the same thing.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

       -When Jesus died on the cross, one of the petitions in scripture that is recorded for us is this.

“Father forgive them,

for they know not what they do.”

       -And so, Jesus wants you, and me to take the forgiveness He gives to us, and share that forgiveness with other people who sin against us.

Then, Jesus concluded by saying,

“And lead us not into temptation”.

       -Jesus is our Brother. He knows what it is like to be tempted. The Book of Hebrews says,

“We have One

who has been tempted in every way,

just as we are,

and yet was without sin.”

       -After His baptism, Jesus endured 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, by the devil.

       -Before His death on the cross, Jesus told Peter,

“Satan has asked me that he can come to you

and sift you like wheat.

But, Peter, I am praying for you.

And after you have returned,

go and strengthen your brothers.”

So, in a just a very quick way, (I know I went through The Lord's Prayer very quickly, as we should really take one petition at a time for each sermon), Jesus is teaching us for what we should pray.

But, now I want to focus on how it is that we should pray. I am going to pull out two words that I am going to focus on.

       -We should pray persistently.

       -And, we should pray confidently.

Jesus uses a story for each of them.

Jesus said there once was a man who had a traveler come to him, late at night. The man didn't have any bread, so he went, and knocked on his neighbor's door. “Give me three loaves of bread.”

That neighbor said, “It is midnight! The door is locked. My children are all in bed. No, I am not going to come, and give you three loaves of bread.”

What did the first man do? He kept on knocking.

What did the neighbor do? The neighbor, because of the first man's persistence, got up. Notice he didn't give him just three loaves of bread, but he said, “I will give you whatever you need, if only you will stop.”

You see, it wasn't uncommon in Jesus' day to travel in the evening, because they didn't want to travel during the heat of the day. And so, what Jesus was talking about here, wasn't an uncommon occurrence. But could you think about going to your neighbor's house at midnight, knocking on their door, and asking for three loaves of bread? We wouldn't think about it. I wouldn't do that to my neighbor. And, if my neighbor came, and did that to me, I would be like, “What? Are you thinking? I am in bed! The doors are locked”!

And yet, because of the persistence of the first man, the second man said, “I will give you whatever you need”.

A famous commentator by the name of H. C. Lenski talks about this portion of scripture. He gives six points in talking about the one neighbor who went to the second neighbor, and the connection in your going before the Father, in prayer. He makes six, short points.

       -First of all, the appeal is to a friend, in this portion of scripture. But, our prayer is directed to One much greater, our Heavenly Father.

       -Number two, the request was made at a most inconvenient time. It was made at midnight. Whereas with God, there is no night. There is never an inconvenient time.

       -Number three, the request of the friend was made on behalf of a stranger. But, we are all known to God. We are those on whom He has set His love.

       -Number four, a slight need was involved. Our requests are much greater.

       -Number five, a small gift of three loaves of bread was all that was asked for. We ask for much greater gifts, all that we need for body and soul.

       -Number six, the friend within the house offered a selfish, unfriendly excuse for not helping his friend. Our Father in Heaven is all love and kindness. He is so eager to bless, that He gives many promises to coax, and invites us to ask for them.

That is why we looked at our Old Testament Lesson for today. Abraham is a great example of being persistent in prayer. His nephew Lot was living down by Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham knew those cities were going to be destroyed. So, he interceded. He went before the LORD in prayer. “Father, if fifty righteous people are found there, will you preserve the city? If forty five are found, if forty, if thirty, if twenty, if ten? Will you preserve the city?”

Abraham was persistent in prayer.

On Maundy Thursday Evening, when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He is an example of being persistent in prayer.

Going before the Father on His own behalf, yes, but also on behalf of His disciples, and also on behalf of all believers, which includes you. It is awesome to think

before Jesus died on the cross,

He was persistently going before the Father,

on your behalf!

Maybe you have heard the story Paul Harvey once said about the three year old boy, and chocolate chip cookies...

There was once a three year old boy whose mother took him grocery shopping. Before they entered the grocery store, she told her three year old son, “Do not ask for chocolate chip cookies today, because you are not going to get any”.

She put him in the cart, and they started to go through the isles of the grocery store. The three year old boy was doing great, until they came to the cookie isle. They were going down the cookie isle, and he said to his mother, “May we please have some chocolate chip cookies?

She said, “No, we talked about this. You are not getting any chocolate chip cookies today.”

They continued through the rest of the grocery store. But, wouldn't you know it, she forgot an item. And, it happened to be back in the cookie isle. So, they went back through the cookie isle, and this time he stood up in his seat, in the cart. He said, “May we please have some chocolate chip cookies?”

She said, “No! We talked about this. You are not going to get any chocolate chip cookies today. Sit down, and be quiet.”

They were making their way to the checkout line, and the three year old boy thought, “This is my last chance, here”. He stood up on his seat, and he said at the top of his voice, “In the name of Jesus, may we please have some chocolate chip cookies?”

The people in the checkout lines, next to the mother, and this three year old son, responded exactly the same way you did. They laughed, just like you did. Some of them even began to applaud. And because of the persistence of that three year old boy, and the generosity of those who were standing around at the checkout line, that mother, and her three year old son left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies! All because of that three year old boy's persistence.

Jesus today tells us,

“...ask, and it will be given to you;

seek, and you will find;

knock, and it will be opened unto you.”

All of those verbs are in the present tense.

Keep on asking.

Keep on seeking.

Keep on knocking.

God doesn't just want us to be regular, and faithful in prayer.

God wants us to be persistent

in our life of prayer, as well.

God also wants us to be confident in our life of prayer.

Back when my kids were little, and we went to my parents' cabin, I would love to take them down to the water, and have them jump off of the dock into my arms. Now, we didn't start by going to the end of the dock. We began at the very beginning. They would jump off of the dock onto the sand, and I would catch them. They would run back up onto the dock. I would get the next piece of wood on the dock wet, and I would say, “Come down a little bit more”.

They would do that, and then they would jump off of the dock, into my arms, and then running back up onto the dock, again. I would then get the next piece of the dock wet. We just kept doing that all the way, until we got to the very end of the dock.

Why did they keep jumping? Well, they were confident I was going to catch them.

Jesus today tells us we should come before Him with confidence, knowing God will give us exactly what we need. Jesus said,

“Who of you, if your child asks you for a fish will give them a serpent? Or, who of you, if your child asks you for an egg, will give them a scorpion?” If parents know the good gifts they should give to their children, (even though we are sinful parents), our Heavenly Father, who is perfect will give us the gifts we need.

So, why is it, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we oftentimes fail in our life of prayer? Why is it we at times fail to come before the Lord in prayer, with confidence, and with persistence? If your lawnmower breaks, who do you call? You call the small engine repair guy. If the wireless connection goes out at work, who do you call? You call the IT repair person. If the faucet is dripping at home, who do you call? You call the plumber. So why, when we have troubles in life, do we fail to call upon God, our Heavenly Father?

It is James who says this about that very point. He says you want something but don't get it. You kill. You covet. But, you cannot have what you want. You quarrel, and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

Well, it is God, our Heavenly Father, who does give us, His children, perfect gifts. After all, He has given you His Son. Scripture is very clear on sharing with us what God's Son, Jesus our Savior, has done for us.

God so loved the world,

that He gave His One and Only Son.

Whoever believes in Him,

shall not perish,

but have everlasting life.”

It is God, our Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us through Baptism and The Lord's Supper, in God's Word. He points us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us to be strengthened in our faith in Jesus, as our Savior.

And so, we have this confidence, as we come before the Father, as 1 John, chapter five says.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God.

That if we ask anything according to His Will,

He hears us.

And, if we know He hears us,

whatever we ask,

we know we have what we asked of Him.”

And so, during the course of this week, let's focus on our lives of prayer, as we go before God, our Heavenly Father, as Jesus, our Savior encourages us. Let us be persistent, and let us be confident, as we approach the throne of God, our Heavenly Father.