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The Promises of God

December 15, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Prayer Verse: Luke 11:5–11:13

The Disciple’s Prayer: "The Promises of God”

Luke 11: 5-13

Theme: We are able to approach God with the confidence that He will answer our prayer.

 

Introduction: 

 

I. The Character of God in Answering Prayer – 11:5-8 

A. The Imposition by a Request – vv. 5-7  

  • Immediately on the completion of Jesus’ instructions to His disciples, having answered the request made in v. 1: “Lord, teach us to pray …,” Jesus highlights the promises of God to answer the prayers that we pray.
  • He begins with a parable – a story designed to communicate only one thing.
  • We read: “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; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him …”’”
  • In this story, we see a common impression that people have of how God looks upon them as they approach Him – causing a reticence to ask God for anything in prayer.
  • In this parable, the friend who is receiving the request responds: “… and from inside the house 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.’”
  • This sense that we are unwelcome, or that we are imposing on the Lord is something that is natural in the mind of many, causing a lack of vitality or interest in prayer.
  • Often this very story, like the story in Luke 18:1-5, is used to convey that God is disinterested in our needs or that we are imposing upon Him when we approach Him in prayer.
  • Yet we understand this is not the attitude of God as we approach Him in prayer – cp. Luke 18:15-16.

B. The Inferiority of Response – v. 8

  • Notice, in our parable, we are told that even someone who is being inconvenienced by a friend approaching them for help will relent and provide the help. 
  • Jesus says: “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.”
  • This is not an instruction that we “nag” God until He give to us what we desire – but provides a contrast between this inconvenienced man and God.
  • God is never in bed, with a door locked, asleep and interrupted by our prayers!
  • “If even an imperfect human being, notwithstanding the inconvenience to which he is put, will arise at midnight to give a friend what he needs if he comes and asks him for help, how much more will God, the heavenly Friend, who is perfect in love, listen to the sincere prayers and supplications of His children who are really in need!” – cp. Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 11:28; Ephesians 3:20.

Application:

  1. Do you ever feel like you are imposing on God by approaching Him in prayer? What makes you feel that way?
  2. Why is it inappropriate to feel like we are imposting on God? 
  3. How does your relationship with God through Jesus Christ make a difference in God’s willingness to answer your prayers?

II. The Commitment of God re: Answering Prayer – 11:9-10

A. The Approachability of God – v. 9

  • Jesus provides us with an encouragement to appeal to God, knowing His goodness and willingness to grant us our requests according to His will.
  • He gives to us three imperatives – all in the present tense, signifying the regularity of our approach to the Lord.
  • Each of these demonstrate that when we go to the Lord, it needs to be with an awareness of answers are to be found.
  • First, Jesus instructs us to “ask” [αἰτεῖτε] – a term that means “to ask for, with a claim on receipt of an answer …” – can mean “to demand.”
  1. As we continually approach the Lord, we understand that He knows our need - Matthew 6:8.
  2. He knows what we need and when we go to Him and ask, … “… it will be given you …” – 
  • Next, we are told to “seek” [ζητεῖτε] – means to “devote serious effort to realize one’s desire or objective” – and when we are seeking the will of the Father, Jesus assures us “… and you will find.”
  • Finally, Jesus commands us to “knock …” [κρούετε] – to strike something or lit, “to deliver a blow” – and the promise is that “it will be opened to you” – or access will be granted. 
  • These terms seem to incrementally intensify – a simple desire, to a more urgent desperation, to finally a demand.

B. The Assurances from God – v. 10

  • Jesus reassures us that when we approach God within the context of how He taught us to pray, we will receive God’s response.
  • First, He states: “For everyone who asks, receives” – [λαμβάνει] – “to get hold of something by laying hands on or grasping something” – and emphasizes that there is an individual (singular) focus here - there are no believers who are exempted from the ability to approach God and to have prayers answered.
  • Second, “… and he who seeks, finds” [εὑρίσκει] – to locate what is being sought.
  • Finally, “… and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” [ἀνοιγ[ής]εται] – fut. Act. Pass. 3 per. Sing. – he will find access.
  • Although this is a wide open generalization, we understand that the stipulations for this to be real is the ability to pray like Jesus taught in the previous section – Prioritizing our relationship with God, honoring His name, and seeking His kingdom weeds out most, if not all, of the requests that God would be unwilling to grant.

Application:

  1. Think through what it means to “ask,” to “seek,” and to “knock” – in what ways do you believe you do these?
  2. What are the “conditions” for God answering our prayers?
  3. Are your prayers offered to the Lord with confidence that He will answer?

III. The Comprehensiveness of God in Answering Prayer – 11:11-13

A. The Example of Common Charity – vv. 11-12

  • Once again in this same context, Jesus provides a contrast between Divine and human compassion – “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?”
  • The obvious answer is that no “normal” father would do that – “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?” – again, there is no way that a father would be so cruel as to imperil the safety of a child when he approaches the father for provision.
  • Jesus moves from “friend to friend” to “father to son” which is a far more obliged and warm relationship and is offered as a comparison.

B. The Extent of Divine Charity – v. 13

  • He states: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will you heavenly Father give … to those who ask Him?”
  • “how much more” seems to be the point that Jesus is making – demonstrating that God knows how to give the best thing for the best end for His own children – cp. Psalm 84:11; Psalm 34:9-10; Philippians 4:19.
  • Jesus identifies that the greatest gift that God can give to His children is “the Holy Spirit” – the source of every blessing that is received from God – cp. Romans 5:3.
  • “To those who ask for a gift, He gives the giver; to those who ask for an effect, He gives the cause; to those who ask for a product He gives the source; to those seeking comfort He gives the comforter (Acts 9:31); to those seeking power He gives the source of power (Acts 1:8); to those seeking help He gives the helper (John 14:26); to those seeking truth He gives the Spirit of truth (John 16:13).”
  • The apostle Paul declared that having given us Jesus, there is nothing that God will not give – Romans 8:32.
  • Now Jesus declares that if He gives us His Spirit, He will certainly give us all things and provides all other things through the Spirit.

Application:

  1. Are your prayers hindered by an underlying doubt that God is good?
  2. What impact does God having given His Holy Spirit to you produce in your confidence that He is willing to freely give you all things?
  3. What greater thing could God give to you than what He has given to you in His Holy Spirit?

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