What is the background of this parable? Before we look at the parable, what was the reason that Jesus was telling it in the first place?
- Luke 11:1
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
- As Jesus was praying, the disciples must have over heard his prayer and must have been impressed by it. So they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.
- Jesus launches into a familiar discourse. What is it?
- Luke 11:2-4
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
- It is that famous prayer that has been heard around the world – the Lord’s prayer. The version that we are most familiar with is found in Matthew 6:9-13.
However, let’s go to Matthew to see a few tips that Jesus gave the disciples on how to pray.
- Matthew 6:7-8
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
- We should not use vain repetitions. What does that mean?
- Don’t just keep repeating the same prayer and the same words over and over again without any meaning and without any thought. Many people repeat the Lord’s prayer verbatim, word for word, sometimes without much thought. It’s just become a form, but not many of us pause to think of the enormity of the words that we are saying from scripture.
We aren’t going to into its detail as we actually have a study on this prayer itself in a different series called the Mount of Blessing.
- But if we truly pray this prayer as it is and understand it at a deeper level, our lives would be very different. We would be seeking for God’s will instead of our own.
- However, this is not the main point of the lesson.
- Jesus then after this gives a parable to illustrate about prayer.
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
- So a friend goes to another friend to ask food from him. And it is not just any ordinary time. It is midnight! He wants three loaves. Why?
- He has a friend that has come to him and he has nothing in his house to feed him with.
How does his friend respond though?
- He eventually gets up, even though his children are all in bed, and he gives him what he needs. Why?
- Notice what it says there in verse 8. It is because of his importunity.
- This is one of those words that we feel we know but we actually don’t. We know that importunity sounds bad. It sounds like it means unfortunate. Because of his unfortunate circumstances, the other friend feels sorry for him and gets up and gives the bread to him. But that’s not actually what the word importunity means.
- When you look at the concordance, you will find it to mean shamelessness.
- It means that because his friend kept asking and was persistent and was shameless about asking, he ended up giving it to him.
- How did we know he was shameless? He came at midnight. He wasn’t shy about the time as to how late it was. He just came anyways. And even though the friend responded negatively at the beginning telling him it was late and all his children were in bed, he was persistent. He was shameless in asking. He was desperate!
Now who does that person represent that is knocking on the door of his friend’s house?
- It represents us humans, because we are the ones that need to learn the lesson of shameless asking. It is one that is a Christian because remember that Jesus is teaching them about prayer.
- We need to learn to be persistent, to be shameless. Not be shy about asking God for things.
- But notice, he wasn’t asking for himself. He wasn’t asking for the benefit of himself. He was asking for the benefit of a friend that had come unexpectedly to visit him. Maybe sometimes when we ask for ourselves we would feel a bit shy and can bear to wait until the next morning to ask. But for the sake of his friend, he was willing to be brave to ask someone so late at night for food.
Who is the neighbour with all his children asleep?
- It represents God. And we know that God will not turn us away like that, but God is trying to fit into this human story somehow. The focus is really the other friend that is shamelessly asking for food. He is the main focus of this parable.
- Eventually this friend gets up to give him all that he needs away. God is like that.
Who does the hungry friend represent?
- He represents those that are hungering for the bread.
- What type of bread?
- Well let’s start with the physical first. There are many people out there that are hungry, that are starving, that are just simply not as well off as we are. But I want you to notice, that this person that he has come to doesn’t have any bread either. He has to go to his friend to ask bread of him.
- Did you know that God wants to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others? This is the essence of the Abrahamic covenant.
- Genesis 12:1-3
1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
- God wants to bless us so that we can use that blessing to be a blessing to everyone else!
- God does not give us food and riches in abundance simply to live a better life than everyone else and at the expense of everyone else.
- It doesn’t mean the rich man shouldn’t buy a Mercedes or a BMW. It doesn’t mean that the rich man shouldn’t not live in a penthouse or a 10-bedroom mansion.
- But the question is, how much of what you own ends up as a blessing to other people? What proportion of your wealth goes out in touch the lives and uplift the lives of those around you?
- Or are you simply hoarding your wealth?
- Maybe some of us are poor because all we care about is our own lives and our own comfort and our own wants. And so we don’t ask God for more because we are ashamed to bother him. We know that it is a selfish motive.
- But when our focus is on others, that’s where we can have more courage, have more shamelessness in asking big things from God, no matter the time or inconvenience to Him.
It’s not just simply physical bread though. What does bread represent in the Bible?
- Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
- It also represents the word of God, the Bible. This friend is asking for more light and understanding about the Bible because he wants to go out and share with his friend.
- Could it be possible that so many of us are spiritual dwarfs because all we do is live for ourselves? We never grow in grace because we don’t see the need to.
- But all of a sudden someone comes to us and asks us a Bible question or asks for Bible study, then we see how little we know and we go and beg Jesus for help! And God, He delights to ask these sorts of prayers. Because it comes from a heart which understands its heartfelt need.
Friends, how do you pray?
- Too often our prayers are centered around our own lives.
- God please help me with my exam, please help me with my business deal, please help me with my marriage or relationship, please help me earn more money. Many of our prayers are focused on self.
- But when is the last time that you have prayed a prayer for someone else, for their blessing, in which you don’t have any personal vested interest? Which has nothing to do with you or won’t affect you in any positive way? A prayer for a blessing for someone else?
- This really is the big picture of this parable.
- We ask God for blessings, so that we can be that blessing to someone else.
- But why does God seem like He does not want to give it to us?
- He wants to try our patience. He wants to see how bad we really want to be a blessing. How desperate do we want it? How desperate are we to get this so that we can give it to other people?
- I’m sure if you’re like me, our prayers usually are not so desperate for others unless they are family or our best friends right?
You know when you keep repeating what you want when you are desperate, that is different than a vain repetition. Why?
- Because vain repetition is without meaning. We just repeat it because we’ve said it that way a thousand times! But shamelessly asking until you get it is with a purpose. It is not a vain repetition but a desperate cry for help. And you won’t let go until God answers because no one else can fulfill your request.
- Have you ever asked God like this before? Asking God for help so you can be a blessing to someone else?
- George Muller was a man of faith and prayer. And he learnt the shamelessness of asking God for help because in his lifetime it was estimated that he fed, housed, clothed and educated over 10,000 orphans. He was brave to ask God because he knew that it wasn’t for a selfish purpose, so he wasn’t shy about asking!
- Maybe we see so few miracles in our lives because all we do is ask for our own selfish purposes that we can consume it selfishly in our own lives for our own benefit!
I want you to consider something else. The person asked for how many loaves of bread? Three loaves.
- Can you think of three pieces of the word of God? Where do we see three portions of the word of God in the Bible? The three angels’ messages in Revelation 14!
- Also, what time did the friend ask? Midnight.
- What do we understand about midnight in the Bible?
- Matthew 25:6
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
- The midnight cry! The time just before the second coming of Jesus. This parable is very much related to the day and time in which we live. So what’s the main lesson? We must learn to shamelessly ask.
However the lesson is not finished yet. Jesus has yet a bit more to say after He finishes the parable in Luke.
- Luke 11:9-12
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
- There are parts of these verses that are familiar to us. Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.
- However, there is one word that keeps repeating over and over again throughout these verses. What is it? Ask.
- It is repeated in every single verse. Ask, ask, ask.
- We must SHAMELESSLY ask!
But what should we be shamelessly asking for?
- Luke 11:13
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
- We should shamelessly ask for the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the big picture:
- Three pieces of bread represents the three angels’ messages.
- Midnight is the midnight cry calling people to be ready for the second coming.
- Asking for the Holy spirit is really asking for the latter rain to come upon us so that we can preach the gospel with power and be a blessing to the whole world.
- If we are to be ready, if we are to expect God to pour His Spirit upon us, we need to be asking shamelessly, non-stop. Persistent! Desperate!
Many of us don’t know how to pray, and it’s not because we don’t pray how. But we either don’t mean it or we just don’t do it. If we are to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, for the second coming, for His will to be done on earth just like it is in heaven, we must learn to ask shamelessly. Keep asking!
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
- Jesus said that we would do greater works in the last days that He Himself has done.
- Why? Because He would go to the Father and ensure that we can do it. But how?
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
- Jesus said that whatever we ask, He would do it.
- Nowadays the way we apply this promise is we ask for help in our studies, help in our work. Help for our finances. Help to find a life partner. Help to get a good deal with our car and house. Help for many things, which in and of itself is not wrong.
- But it seems that the reason Jesus’ kingdom has not come, is because we are praying for the wrong things and we are not learning to shamelessly ask.
- Many of us shamelessly ask God to bless us with riches and wisdom. We will beg. But we find it hard to beg for the one thing that Jesus has absolutely promised He would give if we learn to ask. What is it?
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
- We must learn to ask for the Holy Spirit – the greatest blessing that Jesus can give us today.
- Let’s learn to pray for the Holy Spirit so that we can do the work of God today. That His will would be done on earth just like it is done in heaven. Which means that work must begin with us today.
- We got to learn to shamelessly ask.
In closing let’s read the following passage.
- 2 Kings 2:1-4
1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.”
- This is the chapter where Elijah is taken up to heaven. Word gets out that he will be going to heaven. He was in Gilgal and he goes down to Bethel. He goes down to Jericho as well. And each time he tells Elisha to stay but Elisha refuses. As long as Elijah is alive, he would stick right there with him.
Elijah represents Jesus going up to heaven. Elisha represents us. And as they are walking, Elijah asks Elisha what he wants.
- 2 Kings 2:9
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
- Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
- Isn’t that an amazing request? Isn’t that what we call shamelessly asking?
- If what Elijah has is enough to get him to heaven, shouldn’t we just ask for the same amount? But no, Elisha asks for a double portion!
- So what does Elijah reply?
- 2 Kings 2:10
And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
- Elijah says if you see me go up to heaven, then you request will be granted.
- Now if you are Elisha, what would you do from then on? I would NEVER let him out of my sight again, not even for a moment. Everywhere Elijah does, Elisha would go. Doesn’t matter where. Just go. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of him.
- What does this mean? You got to keep Jesus near you every single minute of your life. Never let Him out of your sight.
- And if we can do that, Jesus will give us a double portion of His Spirit.
Let us not put so much focus on earthly things. Let’s make sure we never let Jesus out of our sight. Let’s learn to pray. Learn to keep His word before us constantly. Remind ourselves to keep our eyes fixed on Him at all times. Let’s learn to put God in front of us every hour. Let’s ask that we can be like Christ. It’s not that we are doing bad things, but in the midst of all that we do, do we remember Jesus?
Unless we learn to pray shamelessly and consistently, the Holy Spirit will never be poured out. Jesus will never come again. So, we got to learn to pray. It is so simple, but it is so difficult for many of us. Sometimes it feels like there is no progress with our prayer, but we need to endure. We got to learn to pray. We must. We got to ask for something only God can do, ask for something big. Let’s learn to ask shamelessly for the latter rain, a double portion of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had.