Have you ever had a friend knock on your door in the middle of the night and just keep on knocking until you come to the door? Well, Jesus uses such an incident to teach us a lesson about prayer.

ROBERT >> Have you ever had a friend knock on your door in the middle of the night and just keep on knocking until you come to the door? Well, Jesus uses such an incident to teach us a lesson about prayer. Hope you’ll stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> In our lesson today, we want to discuss the parable of the friend at midnight. It’s only recorded by Luke. It’s in chapter 11, verses 5 through 8. Let’s read it together. “And He said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him; and he will answer from within and say, Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you. I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence, he will rise and give him as many as he needs.”

This is a homely story, but it also has a touch of humor in it. But to really get ahold of this parable, we need to understand the context of the parable, the occasion of this parable. Jesus is teaching his disciples to pray here.

If you’ll look with me in the first four verses of Luke chapter 11, we’ll see the setting for this parable. “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And so He said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

You see here that Jesus is teaching his disciples to pray. Jesus of course was a man of prayer. And this is something you see emphasized throughout the book of Luke.

For example, if we look back in Luke 3:21, this is what we read. Here we says, “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized. And while He prayed, the heaven was opened.”

We see when Jesus begins his ministry, he begins it with prayer.

In Luke chapter 5, notice in verse 16, “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”

This was a custom of Christ, to go aside, to set himself away from others for a moment where he could pray to his father in heaven.

And you see it in chapter 6, and look in verse 12. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”

It was not unusual for Jesus not to just say prayers, but for him to spend much time with God, talking with him. As he was on this earth in the flesh, we see how dependent he was upon his father.

And then look in chapter 9 and verse 18. Here Luke writes, “And it happened, as He was alone, praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, Who do the crowds say that I am?”

And so we see here that Jesus is spending much time in prayer throughout his ministry. And certainly we ought to ask, if Jesus needed prayer like that, certainly we also need prayer as we strive to serve the Lord today.

Let me read one other passage from Luke chapter 9. Notice verse 28 and verse 29. Here it says, “Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”

And so we see here how that Jesus was in fact a man of prayer and how he had been praying in a certain place, how he taught his disciples to pray by giving them a model prayer. But the parable that was given was given to encourage them, and it was given to encourage them to pray to their heavenly father. And so I want us to try if we can to put ourselves into the parable and to see how the parable applies to each one of us. I want you to notice if you could place yourself in the parable that you’re the one that you’re going to your friend’s house, you’re needing something because somebody has come over and you can’t feed them. And so you go over to your friend’s house.

And what time do you go to your friend’s house?

It’s midnight, in the middle of the night. It was common in the East to travel at night because of the heat. And probably that’s what was happening. This friend had a friend who was traveling and came by his house, and he needed something to feed him, and so he goes to his neighbor’s house.

And what do you ask your friend when you get there?

And why are you asking?

Well, you ask him for bread. You’re asking him because another friend of yours has dropped in unexpectedly, and you didn’t have anything to feed him. It was an embarrassing circumstance for you because the hour was late and the marketplace would be closed. And so you go to your neighbor, you knock on his door. And when you knock on your friend’s door, where did your friend answer you from? He answered from the other side of the door, inside his house. He didn’t want to open his house for you, even though he knew you and even though he was your friend.

What was his answer, and why did he answer this way?

Well, he said he didn’t want to be troubled by you. He said he couldn’t help you because the door was shut. It had been barred. It had been fastened for the night. The children were already asleep. They were in bed with him. It might be interesting for us to think about the crowded living conditions in those days. Most people in Palestine were poor, and they lived in one-room houses with clay floors. Often the animals would be kept inside for protection from the weather, from theft. There might be an upper story. Maybe it had been built upon stilts where the family would cook and they would eat and they would sleep. And so the friend didn’t want to let you in and disturb the whole household in the middle of the night.

Why did Jesus say that your friend wouldn’t help you in the parable?

What did he say?

He said he wouldn’t help you because he’s your friend. It’s not because I’m your friend that I’m helping you.

But why did Jesus say your friend would help you?

He would help you because of your persistence. I don’t really want to open the door, I don’t want to disturb everybody, but I know I’m your friend, but the reason I’m really helping you is because of your persistence, you keep on knocking at the door. Because of your importunity, your friend gives you whatever is needed. By now it was obvious that if anyone was going to get any rest at all, he was going to have to help you.

Now, let’s take a look at verses 9 through 13, because now that we have this parable in view and we see what happened in this story in the middle of the night, I want you to see how Jesus uses this story to teach us about praying to our heavenly father. Let’s read it together. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

Do you see in Jesus’ interpretation of this parable the application that Jesus makes, that he’s teaching us to be persistent in prayer?

Jesus says ask; Jesus says seek; Jesus says knock. And each one of those verbs, ask, seek, knock, are in the present tense. In other words, he’s saying keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Be persistent. Do not be discouraged.

Look what Jesus had taught us in Luke chapter 18. In Luke 18:1, notice what it says. “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

So many times we become discouraged when we should be praying. Keep on praying. Men ought always to pray, Jesus said.

The apostle Paul in Romans 12:12 teaches us to continue steadfastly in prayer. Prayer ought to be a regular part of every Christian’s life. We ought to make sure that we pray when we get up in the morning. We ought to be sure and pray when we’re around the table partaking of meals. Pray when you’re going and you’re coming. Ask the Lord to be with you. Ask the Lord to bless you in your efforts. When you face temptation, when you face decisions, when you face trials and obstacles in life, be praying to God. Let’s continue to pray morning and noon and night so that we do not become discouraged.

I love what the apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, where he simply says, “Pray without ceasing.”

You see, we’re to never give up on prayer. Don’t ever quit praying. I’m afraid that some of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord have decided they don’t believe in prayer anymore or that it’s not doing them any good. They have forgotten God does hear and answer our prayers. So don’t ever quit praying. Don’t ever give up on prayer. Keep on praying to God. You’ll notice how Jesus uses the parable to teach us about praying. And he uses the parable as a contrast to what happens when we come to our heavenly Father. You know, our heavenly Father is always ready, he’s always willing, he’s always able to help with all of our needs, with all of the needs of all of those who come to him. He’s not like that fellow in the parable that was disturbed and may or may not have had what his friend needed to help him. God’s not like that. God does not answer begrudgingly, but he answers lovingly and he answers generously.

Look with me in Luke 6:38. Luke chapter 6, notice what Jesus teaches here. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

God wants to bless our lives. He wants to fill up our heart, he wants to fill up our lives with his blessings.

In James 1:5, when he tells us to ask him in faith, he says he gives to all liberally. “He gives to all generously and upbraids not.”

God is not going to rebuke you for asking. He wants us to ask him, and he wants to bless our lives. Furthermore, we can say there’s no inconvenient midnight hour with God. God is always on duty to help us, to be there for us, to answer us, to bless us. Let’s go back to the Psalms.

Look at Psalm 121. In this great Psalm we see that our God never sleeps. Here it says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

Do you see God is always right there, ready, willing, and able to hear and to answer your every call?

And so unlike the man in the parable, he’s not troubled, he is not unwilling, and he is always able to help us and to answer us when we call upon him in prayer. He’s not troubled by our knocking at the door, as was the friend in the parable. God is not only our friend, he is our heavenly Father, and we are his children. He’s much more ready, willing, and able to help us than we, who are evil, are to help our children.

Did you notice what he said back here in Luke?

In Luke chapter 11 I want to read again what it says here in verse 11 of chapter 11. “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?”

You see, there is a similarity in the stone to bread. You take the stone, it looks like a loaf of bread as they would make it in that day. Or the serpent, some serpents rolled up look kind of like a fish, or perhaps like the eel. And the scorpion, as he’s curled up his tail in that kind a light brown color looks like an egg. But I want you to see that a father, a normal father would not try to trick his children, give them a stone instead of bread or a serpent instead of a fish or a scorpion instead of an egg. They wouldn’t want to do anything that would be harmful to their children, no.

Notice what Luke says in verse 13. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

You see, in the parable you ask your friend to meet your small physical, temporary needs. I just need some bread. Somebody’s come over tonight. But you see, we may come to God not only for these physical, temporary needs that we often have, but also for our greater spiritual and our eternal needs. And so you see here that Luke says the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. The Holy Spirit here is put for all the good things which God bestows upon his children in the kingdom of Christ, his church.

In fact, if you look at Matthew’s account of this very same preaching of Jesus, look how Matthew puts it in Matthew 7:11. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”

You see, God wants to give us good things. And that all began with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Acts the 2nd chapter as God established his church with the preaching of the gospel by the inspiration and the power of the Holy Spirit that day. What we see in the use of the Holy Spirit in Luke chapter 11 is what is called metonymy, where one thing is put for another; in this case, where the cause is put for the effect. The Holy Spirit is the cause, and the effect are the good things. All of this pointing to the coming of the kingdom of Christ we read about in Acts chapter 2. And I want you to look over there for just a moment in Acts the 2nd chapter. After Christ had died for our sins and paid that awful price on Calvary’s cross, after he had been raised from the dead the third day to walk on this earth, to show himself alive, after he had ascended through the clouds into the heavens to sit at God’s right hand, he poured out his powerful Holy Spirit upon his apostles. And they preached that good news of deliverance from sin, the conquering of death in the death and the burial, and the resurrection of Christ so that we could have the hope of eternal life, salvation, and the forgiveness of our sins. And when this was preached in all of its power, the people, hearing, wanted to know what to do to be saved. And the Bible says in verse 38, “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

And so that day, three thousand souls were baptized into Christ. That day, they were saved. That day, they received salvation from their sins. That day, they were forgiven. That day, they received a new life, a new power, a new strength, a new hope in the Holy Spirit.

In fact, Ephesians 1:3 tells us that every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is found in Christ Jesus. Yes, we have all of these good things from God available in Jesus Christ. Let’s keep asking, let’s keep seeking, let’s keep knocking, knowing that our Father is never disturbed by our prayers, but he’s always ready and willing and able to hear us and to answer us.

In 1 John 5, I want you to notice this promise from this great apostle of love. Let’s read it together here, beginning in verse 14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.”

I hope today that this lesson will encourage you to keep on praying to God. And we also hope that you’ll let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come,
from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord, whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,
thy coming in.
Above thee watching,
he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea forevermore.

SINGING>> Each day I’ll do a golden deed
by helping those who are in need.
My life on earth is but a span,
and so I’ll do the best I can.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days, and I must go
to meet the deeds that I have done,
where there will be no setting sun.
To be a child of God each day,
my light must shine along the way.
I’ll sing his praise while ages roll,
and try to help some troubled soul.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days, and I must go
to meet the deeds that I have done,
where there will be no setting sun.
While going down life’s weary road,
I’ll try to lift some traveler’s load,
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
make flowers bloom along the way.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days, and I must go
to meet the deeds that I have done,
where there will be no setting sun.

ROBERT >> Thanks for watching the program today. We’d love to hear from you. Let me encourage you to contact us with your questions, comments, or requests at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at www.ttil.tv. All our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall, sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.

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