Series Title: ‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Prayer changes everything!’ pt.4
Texts: Luke 11:1-13; Matthew 7:7-11
Further reflection on Luke 11:4 lead us not into temptation
During Calvary Café last Sunday, a question arose from a few people at one of the tables…
PP A literal reading of Luke 11:4 Lead us not into temptation does seem to imply that God leads us into temptation. And that would contradict James 1:13 which reads:
- Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.
What we have is NOT a contradiction but a paradox.
PP A paradox is a statement that seems to be self-contradictory that when investigated may prove to be true. (Dictoinary.com)
So, let’s investigate.
Pastor and scholar John Piper has helped me to better understand the relationship between Luke 11:4 and James 1:13. Here is his take on the paradox.
- Lead us not into temptation Luke 11:4 and Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one (James 1:13) are both
The Bible also says, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil in Luke 4:1-2
- God does not do the tempting, the Devil, Satan, does. God does not put evil desires in our hearts…
PP but according to Proverbs 20:24a A man’s steps are from the Lord… Next Slide
- God does bring us, lead us, into the presence of many tests and temptations. In fact, every step we take is a step into the presence of temptation. There is no moment of your life that is not a moment of temptation, a moment when unbelief and disobedience is not a possibility.
- The Lord’s Prayer does not teach us to pray against that kind of sovereign guidance.
- What it teaches us to pray is that the temptation does not overcome us. Don’t lead me intothe midst of the
Deliver me from this evil that is set before me.
A paraphrase, according to Piper, of this prayer could be:
- Today I will stand before innumerable temptations. That’s what life is: endless choices between belief and unbelief, obedience and disobedience. But, O mighty God, forbid that I would yield. Hold me back from stepping inside the temptation. (John Piper)
To put this in terms I introduced last Sunday, we are asking God to help us from going through the doors, to the places we know that if we enter, we will give in to the temptation to sin.
I hope that helps?
Introduction: So, back to our text for this morning. Would you all agree that prayer for the Christian, is an act of faith? Hebrews 11:6 says:
PP: And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
So, when we pray
- We need to draw near to God.
- We need to believe that God is real.
- We need to believe that He’s a big God, not limited by anything.
- We need to believe that He rewards those who seek Him.
- And from our text this morning, we need to believe that He is good.
- Luke 11:5-8 Persistence in prayer
PP Luke 11:5-8 NEXT SLIDE
I think every Christian wishes they had a better more fulfilling prayer life. But, reality is, wishing/wanting something is not the same thing as choosing to do it.
- I wish I had more hair, but I’m not choosing to do anything about it.
And for too many Christians, that’s where they are… they wish they prayed more, but aren’t choosing to do anything about it.
In our text we find a man with a need who has chosen, beyond all sense of common decency and propriety, to continue to ask his neighbor for bread.
- Regardless of how it looked, how late it was and even the consequences to his relationship with his neighbor for his lack of common courtesy.
He chose to keep asking until he got what he needed.
In Jesus’s day, hospitality was the rule, it was a given. It was the right to ask for hospitality if you were in need or if you were traveling. You see, there were no motels/hotels or supermarkets.
- But through hospitality, I suppose there were as many bed and breakfasts as there were homes in the town.
The late arrival of this man’s friend, forced him to look outside his own home for some food, bread in particular. But, it was late, very late. His neighbor had already turned out the lights and he and his family were in bed for the night.
The neighbor heard the knock on his door, but had he gotten up, it would have disturbed his whole family.
- Love or hate, you gotta appreciate the man’s persistence at knocking on his neighbors door.
Pastor James May reminds us that we are somewhat familiar with the act of persistently asking for something.
- I know that most of you have experienced the tenacity of a child, or a teenager asking you for something that they really wanted. They just don’t know, or won’t accept the meaning of the word “NO”.
- They’ve figured out how the system works. “If I ask long enough, and keep bothering mom or dad long enough, they will get tired of me asking and something will happen.
- They will either say, “Okay, do whatever you want, just leave me alone”; or I’ll get sent to my room for the night.
- A 50% chance is all they ever see. And the chance of getting what they want is too great to just let the request slide after the first no.
Even if you don’t have children of your own, you understand that behavior. What we can’t understand is what Jesus is talking about in our text.
- The tenacity / audacity perhaps, of bugging our neighbor very late at night for some food.
We might go to a neighbor around meal time to ask for an ingredient we may be out of… but if we had guests who unexpectedly arrive late at night,
- We’d take something out of the freezer, thaw it out in the microwave, prepare it and eat. Or, we could go to Shopright or another food store that’s open late.
- We could even take them out for a late night snack.
But none of those were options in Jesus’ day.
What we need to see is that because his need to provide hospitality was so great, he was willing to shamefully pester his neighbor until he opened the door and helped.
- Eventually the neighbor gave in to the man’s persistence and gave him what he needed.
First, this story is not about God, the next story yes, but not this one.
- God is not like the neighbor in this story who needs to be badgered by us, until He’s so fed up with our asking, that He answers us.
- God is not like the neighbor in the story who is inconvenienced by our persistent prayer, or by prayer that comes at a time when He’s resting.
PP Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary… (Isaiah 40:28a)
PP I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:1–4) Next Slide
Second, this story is about us. It tells us to choose to pray, and to pray persistently, for what we need.
PP It’s in line with what we find in Hebrews 4:16
- Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
- Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (KJV)
The NKJV Bible gives us an alternative and still acceptable translation of the Greek when it uses the word boldly. Next Slide
In Luke 11:1-4 Jesus teaches us what to pray, in verses 5-8 He tells us how to pray, persistently, boldly. And this is not the only place in the Bible we’re told this:
- Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
Choose to pray and pray persistently.
Luke 11:9-13 Promise of Prayer
PP Read: Luke 11:9-13
I think it’s pretty clear what it’s talking about…
- God is good, and all the time, God is good!
Allow me a brief overview.
PP Ask, seek, knock
Jesus begins by giving us more detail on what it means to be persistent in prayer.
- Ask, but don’t just ask, Seek.
- Seek, but don’t just seek, Knock.
Each of these actions speaks of increased urgency.
Ask: Simple but still profound.
- We should not expect God to answer a prayer that is not made.
Seek: Don’t pray as if you’re talking to thin air.
- Seek God’s face, desire entrance into His presence. Make it personal.
Knock: Let God know you’re there.
- This is more for us than it is for God. He knows, but we need to see our request as important enough to bring it to the throne of grace.
Jesus makes some promises to us about persistent prayer.
- When you ask it will be given to you.
- When you seek you will find.
- When you knock, the door will be opened.
Be persistent and God will answer your prayer.
But remember to keep this in line with what other texts say about prayer because you don’t want to ever think that
- Just because you have faith.
- Just because you’re persistent.
- Just because you ask, seek and knock,
- That God HAS to give you what you want.
1 John 5:14 must be added to our understanding of prayer:
PP And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. Next Slide
Finally, Jesus tells us the reason for the promises of prayer… our God, is a good, good Father!
Jesus compares earthy fathers with our Heavenly Father in two ways:
First, by saying an earthly father does not give bad things to a child who asks for something good.
Second, Jesus elevates our Heavenly Father far above our earthly ones.
- He says that since your earthly fathers are at heart sinful and still give you good things,
- How much greater, how much better will the things be that your Heavenly Father gives you,
- since He is… well, Almighty God?
In other words,
- since our imperfect earthy fathers generally look out for the good of their children,
- then we can expect our perfect Heavenly Father to always know and do what is right and good for His children.
Notice Jesus gets very specific about what our Heavenly Father wants to give us… the Holy Spirit, the best, the perfect gift…
- God’s immediate presence,
- always and forever with us and in us.
Why the gift of the Holy Spirit? Because with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, even when we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us when we are a follower of Jesus Christ.
PP Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
Look, I need to add this here, if you want to know more ask me later. This text is NOT about tongues, it’s about the Holy Spirits intercessory prayer on our behalf.
PP Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20)
Who is the power at work within us? The Holy Spirit. That’s our Heavenly Father’s perfect gift to us, the Holy Spirit!
Conclusion: A few ideas to take home with you to work on this week:
PP 1. Choose to pray.
- Don’t wish you prayed more, choose to pray more and do it.
- Don’t be discouraged, don’t make excuses,
- do it, choose to pray regularly / persistently.
PP 2. Be relentless in prayer
- You family, your friends and neighbors, and we, CBC, need those who will commit to persistence in prayer until the Lord answers.
PP 3. Always pray for others
- In the first story Jesus gives us, it wasn’t the man knocking on his neighbors door that was hungry, it was his unexpected friend who was hungry. The heart of this request for help was not for the one asking.
- We need those who will pray for the needs of others here at CBC.
PP 4. God is good
- He wants to give not just good things, but the very best to those who are His children by faith in Jesus Christ. Next Slide
Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray because they weren’t satisfied with their prayer life.
- Are you willing to do the same thing?