Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Teach US to pray 7.24.2016
Dear friend,

May the grace of God be poured out abundantly upon us today through the love of His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May we be like sponges that soak in His grace that is able to warm and uplift our hearts so that we are able to "see" above and to "live" above the effects of sin in our lives and in the life of the world.

In our introductory notes today, two vital ingredients concerning prayer are detailed. Our helplessness to fix ourself and the need to believe that God is there for us. A child understands this very well as is illustrated by the following story.

Text Illustration:
One Sunday in a Midwest city, a young child was "acting up "during the morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me! Pray for me!"


Before we begin to share a bit from the heart of our Father in heaven today, I would like to ask a couple of questions that perhaps will help focus our minds on the subject of our meditations today.

1. Is there an aspect of your lives as Christians that we find it difficult to "do" as we would like to do?

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2. What motivates us to pray, or what things/practices/helps do we use to help us in our life of prayer?

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The disciples that were being taught by Jesus had observed that He spent a lot of time in communication with His Father. Luke's Gospel, from which our lesson comes today records of number of these times of prayer. There are 27 prayers that Jesus prayed in the Bible, one of which is from our scripture reading today in John 17, which is the prayer that gives us the best insight into the relationship between the Father and the Son. It has been said that if you want to know what is in the heart of a person, listen to them praying. Here are the references of Jesus praying in the Gospel of Luke leading up to our text today in Luke 11.

KJV Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

KJV Luke 5:16 And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.

KJV Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

KJV Luke 9:18 And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?

KJV Luke 9:28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
KJV Luke 9:29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

KJV 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.
JV 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.

He gave them a pattern
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.

He illustrated His teaching for them.
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.

He pointed to the persistence in prayer.
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.

He pointed to an earthly father.
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?

He emphasized/highlighted the superiority of the "Givingness" of the heart of our Father.
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?


In the beginning we considered two questions which I will repeat here:
1. Is there an aspect of your lives as Christians that we find it difficult to "do" as we would like to do?
2. What motivates us to pray, or what things/practices/helps do we use to help us in our life of prayer?


In Luther's Catechism, he teaches that there are reasons for us to pray:


1. God's command

2. His promise to hear our prayers.

3. Our own need.

4. The power and importance of prayer.


As we consider the response of Jesus to the question of the disciples: "Teach US to pray," what was Jesus wanting to leave with them?

1. He gave a pattern for prayer

2. He taught us to be persistent in prayer.

3. He taught us most important of all, through the parables, that Our Father is ready to pour out all that is necessary into our neediness.

Where do we see that one might ask?

Well, there is one word in verse 8 "importunity" which has been translated as persistence. A study of the culture in which Jesus was speaking into seems to focus on the man who was visited in the night and who at first refused to give his neighbor what He had need of. He was not focusing on the man who to get the three loaves of bread, but on the man who had the three loaves of bread.

Let us remember that Jesus is addressing the question "Teach us to pray." He is not pointing out so much of their persistence in coming to God with their prayers, but He is pointing out the benevolent heart of our Father who wants to give "as many as are needed." Wow, what a difference in points of focus. One points to our persistence in prayer and the other points to the "givingness" of God to give to those who are in need.

But what caused the man to get up and tell his neighbor that I will give you whatever you need? Well, in that culture if the man would have refused to give to his neighbor, he would have been met with cries of "shame on you" for not giving to your neighbor last night.

It was to avoid shame that he got up and offered to give his neighbor in order to keep his honor. As we see the comparison between the earthly father and our Heavenly Father in the last verses of our text, we see in this parable that honor of God being pictured here. A neighbor who for the sake of honor gives to a neighbor who is not even a friend, a father gives good things to his son whom he loves and then "How much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

So, as we wind this up, how do we understand the point of Jesus' parable? Well, it seems that He is pointing out the the huge heart of His Father who most of all wants to pour Himself out into the lives of all those who wish to receive Him, to receive His Son, to receive His Holy Spirit!! Does not the understanding and knowing that He is waiting to pour out Himself into our lives move us to continue in His school of prayer? I think so......


A small boy had been consistently late for dinner. One particular day his parents had warned him to be on time, but he arrived later than ever. He found his parents already seated at the table, about to start eating. Quickly he sat at his place, and then noticed what was set before him--a slice of bread and a glass of water. There was silence as he sat staring at his plate, crushed. Suddenly he saw his fatherā€™s hand reach over, pick up his plate and set it before himself. Then his dad put his own full plate in front of his son, smiling warmly as he made the exchange. When the boy became a man, he said, "All my life Iā€™ve known what God was like by what my father did that night."


May the meditations of our heart in this teaching be acceptable in your sight, our dear Father and Redeemer.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 24 Jul 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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