The first Devotional of the New Year is based on a parable that Jesus spoke in Luke, Chapter 11. Get your Bible now. You are going to need it. In the first four verses of that chapter, we find arguably the most well-known words in Christianity today pertaining to prayer. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray and He gives them the guideline for prayer. It is known to us today as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but in reality, it is a guideline for a believer’s prayer. It is simple, to the point, and covers many aspects of the principles of prayer. There are many wonderful teachings concerning the Lord’s Prayer in the realm of Christianity today, but I would encourage you in the near future to take your time, read it, meditate on it and allow Holy Spirit to be your Teacher concerning this prayer that Jesus spoke as a guideline for His disciples. As for this devotional though, I would like to focus on the parable that Jesus spoke to the disciples after His guideline for prayer. The parable is found in Verses 5-13. I request that you read it slowly and capture the principles that Jesus desired the disciples to receive in this parable.
We first discover that friend #1 comes to friend #2’s house for help. The help he is seeking for is a need created by hunger. Friend #2 has nothing in his home to satisfy the hunger of friend #1 , so he goes to friend #3’s house to ask him for food. So we have three people to this point.
Friend #1. The one who is hungry and has nothing to eat.
Friend #2. The one who is approached by hungry friend #1 and has nothing to give him.
Friend #3. The one who is approached by friend #2 because friend #2 knows friend #3 has bread.
This is a picture of intercessory prayer. There are so many people today who are spiritually hungry. They have tasted of the things of this world and nothing satisfies. When they approach us, what do we do? Do we ignore them? Do we lead them to a top ten list book? Do we say we will pray for them and let them go on their way? The “Go-Between” in this parable , friend #2 , goes to his Friend. Notice that Friend is capitalized in Verse 5. This is not a mistake because the Friend in this parable represents Jesus. He is the only One that can satisfy the hungry soul. He is the Bread. He is not only the one that friend #1 needs to supply his need, but the supplier of friend #2’s need as well.
Notice that it is the midnight hour. This indicates that those who are spiritually hungry many times will not admit their hunger until midnight comes. Sometimes things have to really get dark in someone’s life before they seek answers. Your part is to pray for them and be there for them when they knock on your door. You may have to be there for them at their midnight hour. You may have to stir yourself out of your comfort zone to help them. This is not easy especially when we have our own needs that we are concerned about. But the Holy Spirit will empower and anoint and strengthen you to help others when you take that first step to help them.
Now Jesus causes this parable to take a seemingly strange turn in Verse 7. If the Friend , Friend #3 , in this parable is Jesus Himself, we would find it strange to hear Him say, “Trouble Me not. The door is shut. I cannot rise to give you anything.” Can you imagine for a moment thinking that we would pray and then we would hear the words, “Leave Me alone. I cannot help you”?! You must understand that Jesus is giving an illustration in this parable and through this illustration He is making a point concerning prayer. To understand His point, we must look at the first words he said at the beginning of the parable in verse 5. “Which of you shall have a friend….” In other words, “What kind of friend would they be if you were in need and they would say , do not trouble me, my door is shut, I am not getting up to help you?” It makes no sense that Jesus would ever say, “Trouble Me not” when in Matthew 11:28 He says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It makes no sense that Jesus would ever say, “My door is shut,” when, in reality, He is the Door, The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 10:7, 14:6). It makes no sense that Jesus would say, “I cannot rise and give you anything,” when He is already risen and has provided everything we ever need on the cross and sealed it with His resurrection. His point is: when it comes to prayer, keep praying. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. This importunity or persistence in prayer does not change God’s attitude to meet our need. We will see in the next verses that He desires to meet our need. But our persistence reveals that our faith is entirely in Him because we understand He is the Source of our sustenance in and for life. Friend #2 recognized he needed to go to his Friend because he knew he was the supplier of bread. He was persistent because he knew his Friend would rise and give him as much as he needed.
I want to briefly make the point as well that we have the powerful gift of praying in the Spirit. Romans 8:26-28 explains this gift and how it links us to praying the will of God. It is a gift available to every believer and assists us in asking, seeking, and knocking. Praying in the Spirit is such a wonderful advantage when the need is there to be persistent.
Luke 11:11,12,13 describes a wonderful characteristic of our Father. If we ask for bread, He will not give us a stone. If we ask for fish, He will not give us a serpent. If we ask for an egg, He will not give us a scorpion. In every one of these items, there is a similarity in appearance in Biblical time. A stone can appear to be bread. A serpent or eel can appear to be a fish. A scorpion in its shell can appear to be an egg. The Father promises that He will not play games with you. He will give us what satisfies our need, not something that looks like it will, then it doesn’t . He confirms that point by stating if earthly fathers, in their state of humanity, give good gifts to their children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give His children good things and the Holy Spirit to them that ask? Make no mistake about it, God does not give evil things to mankind. The evil things that fall upon man are due to sin and its consequences. The Father’s plan came to pass to combat that evil by giving His only begotten Son on the cross. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” The one gift that fulfills that Scripture is Jesus. He is our Good and Perfect Gift.
There is one more small word in this parable that I would like to draw your attention to and this word is also found in another parable Jesus gave in Luke 18:1-8. It is found in Luke 11:8 and in Luke 18:5. Do you see it? The word is “yet”. It changes the complexion of both parables. In Luke 18 it is the point where the unjust judge says it is time to avenge this widow because of her persistence in knowing I can meet her need. In Luke 11 it is the point where the Friend says because of my friend’s persistence I will provide the bread that he needs. If we are persistent in revealing our faith is in Jesus Christ to provide our need, then our “yet” will come. God is Faithful.
Let us enter into 2016 with a determination to ask, seek, and knock. If believers ever needed fearlessness and determination, it is now. 2016 is a critical year to pray. It is an election year. It is a year that we need wisdom and God’s direction. It is a year to fulfill the principles of 2nd Chronicles 7:14. It is a year to ask, seek, and knock. It is a year to keep on asking, seeking, and knocking no matter the outward circumstances. And it is a year that every believer understands God’s promises are Yes and Amen. Your “yet” that will take you through your challenge is coming.
Persistently agreeing with you, Pastor Wes