Pray Persistently (Luke 11:5-8)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 14, 2018
John Ortberg, in The Life You’ve Always Wanted, tells about the time that Tony Campolo, the college professor, popular speaker and author, was about to address a college chapel service. Several men from the school gathered with Tony for a time of prayer before he spoke. They circled, knelt, laid hands on him and began to call out for God to bless their speaker.
Campolo shared that his men prayed a long time, and as they prayed, they grew tired and started leaning more and more on Campolo. The prayers were earnest, but their weight was getting too much to bear.
On top of that, one guy was not even praying for Tony. He was praying for someone named Charlie Stolzfus.
“Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer, Lord, just down the road on the right hand side.”
Why was the man praying for Charlie? Tony was the speaker, not Charlie Stoltzfus. In addition, the Lord already knew where Charlie Stotzfus lived.
“Lord,” the man continued, “this morning Charlie told me he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, Lord. Please bring that family back together.”
Finally, the prayer time ended, they had a great chapel service, and Campolo headed home. Just as he was merging onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he noticed a hitchhiker on the side of the road and decided to give him a ride.
As they rode along, Tony introduced himself. The man stuck out his hand and said, “My name is Charlie Stoltzfus.”
Campolo could not believe his ears. What are the chances . . . ?
At the next exit, Tony left the interstate and turned the car around. As they returned to the interstate, Charlie said, “Hey, mister, where are you taking me?”
Tony said, “I’m taking you home.”
Campolo said, “Because you just left your wife and three kids, right?”
The man was stunned. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. I did.”
He moved over against the door and never took his eyes off of Campolo. Then, when Tony drove right into the guy’s yard, that really did it.”
Charlie’s eyes bulged out. He said, “How did you know I live here?”
“The Lord told me,” Tony said. (He didn’t explain how the Lord told him).
The trailer door threw open and Charlie’s wife ran out. “You’re back! You’re back!”
Charlie whispered in her ear what happened. The more he shared, the bigger her eyes got.
Campolo then said with real authority, “The two of you sit down. I’m going to talk and you two are going to listen!” And he laid it on, and they listened.
That afternoon, Campolo helped those two receive Jesus Christ as Savior, and that was the start of the healing of a marriage.
Now, was that coincidence that Tony Campolo happened to pick up that particular hitchhiker? Or did God answer the praying man’s petition to “step in and do something?”
James 5:16 reads, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Prayer unlocks divine power, heaven’s blessing, and God’s answer. How many of our coincidences are really answered prayer?
Today I end the sermon series on Scriptures that I have been convicted to pray. I began the sermon series talking about spiritual leadership in the home. I want to end the series talking about persistent prayer.
Today my theme is:
Please turn to Luke 11:5-8 and let’s read the passage:
Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
- In context Jesus has been teaching on prayer.
- The disciples saw Jesus praying frequently and so right now they had asked him to teach on prayer.
- In verse 1 it mentions Jesus praying and then the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
- Do people know you as a prayer warrior?
- Now, be careful, you do not pray to be seen by others. However, do your children and grandchildren know that you have a life of prayer?
- Jesus taught the disciples what we call the Lord’s prayer and then He gave some illustrations.
- Persistent prayer is emphasized.
- See verse 5, how would you feel if a friend came to you at midnight?
- A few years ago, I read an interesting book titled, “Night in Times Past.” The book talked about the way we view night and how it has changed because of electricity. Electric lighting has changed everything. In the past people would have sleep cycles. They would go to bed early and then they would wake up in the night and actually do something and then go back to bed. So, being up at midnight may not be as uncommon as we think. Still, the family is asleep.
- Look at verse 6: this neighbor has had a friend come and he has no food for him. Hospitality was very important in the middle east and still is very important. This neighbor has had a friend come over and has no food for him.
- Remember they had no hotels like we think of them. They have no 24 hour stores or restaurants.
- But verse 7 shows the neighbors reaction: he answers from inside.
- The door is shut, the children are in bed.
- The doors had elaborate locking mechanisms and it would not be easy to open the door.
- The kids are in bed. One source says: All the family was sleeping (on mats) in the same room, and an attempt to open the bolted door would have awakened the whole family.
- Now, I don’t know how old his kids were, but suppose they are babies. When you have a baby in the home and asleep you want to harm anyone who wakes the baby.
- But verse 8 is key: because of the friends persistence or some translations say “shamelessness” or “impudence” he will get up and give him what he needs.
- This term translated “persistence” or “shamelessness” or “Impudence” has the idea of a “lack of sensitivity to what is proper.”
- This is a parable about prayer. Jesus gives this as an example. This is an example of how we are to go to God.
- How are we doing with prayer?
- Let’s think about this in the sermon series.
- This series has been about praying Scriptures.
- When we pray are we praying spiritual prayers?
- When we pray are we praying for physical, felt needs, or for spiritual needs?
- What is more important that we pray that our children have an education or that we pray that they know the Lord?
- I encourage you to make sure you are praying for spiritual needs:
- Pray that your descendants know Jesus.
- Pray that they are active in the church.
- Pray that they are in the Word.
- Pray that they pray.
- Pray that they are active in the spiritual disciplines.
- Pray the Bible for them. Pray that they live the Bible.
- Pray the passages which I have preached on.
- You may have other passages you have been convicted to pray, awesome, keep praying them.
Here are some tips from the book, “A Praying Life”:
If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.
Here are seven simple suggestions for how you can spend time with your Father in the morning:
- Get to bed. What you do in the evening will shape your morning. The Hebrew notion of a day as the evening and morning (see Genesis 1) helps you plan for prayer. If you want to pray in the morning, then plan your evening so you don’t stay up too late. The evening and the morning are connected.
- Get up. Praying in bed is wonderful. In fact, the more you pray out of bed, the more you’ll pray in bed. But you’ll never develop a morning prayer time in bed. Some of my richest prayer times are at night. I’ll wake up praying. But those prayer times only began to emerge because I got out of bed to pray.
- Get awake. Maybe you need to make a pot of coffee first or take a shower.
- Get a quiet place. Maybe a room, a chair, or a place with a view. Or maybe you do better going for a walk. Make sure that no one can interrupt you.
- Get comfortable. Don’t feel like you have to pray on your knees. For years I was hindered from praying because I found it so uncomfortable to pray on my knees.
- Get going. Start with just five minutes. Start with a small goal that you can attain rather than something heroic. You’ll quickly find that the time will fly.
- Keep going. Consistency is more important than length. If you pray five minutes every day, then the length of time will slowly grow. You’ll look up and discover that twenty minutes have gone by. You’ll enjoy being with God. Jesus is so concerned about hanging in there with prayer that he tells “his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18: 1, NIV).
We tell ourselves, “Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.” Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don’t try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace. I’m not referring to well-known Christians. An interviewer once asked Edith Schaeffer, author and wife of evangelist and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, “Who is the greatest Christian woman alive today?” She replied, “We don’t know her name. She is dying of cancer somewhere in a hospital in India.”
Do you know Christ?
God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
Miller, Paul (2014-02-01). A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (p. 50). NavPress. Kindle Edition.