Thursday, 24 December 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 11v1-13 'The Disciples Prayer part 3'

Now we come to the final thing we are going to think about from this prayer:

We keep praying because… God is good(5-13)

Jesus then uses some illustrations to teach the disciples about the nature of their praying and the nature of God their Father whom they pray to.  (5-8)The point of this story is not a comparison between God and the sleepy friend, but between the disciple and the man who keeps on knocking and asking. Why does the man eventually get out of bed and give bread? “…because of your shameless audacity” – because he dared to ask and kept on asking. Make the most of your access to God.

Have you seen who wants to be a millionaire? Each contestant answers questions to accrue money and to help they have 3 lifelines; 50:50, phone a friend, and ask the audience. Sometimes you watch it willing someone to use a lifeline because they clearly don’t know the answer, just ask for help you want to shout at them.

Jesus is saying disciples have a lifeline, we can come boldly to God our Father by grace, not to someone who knows a bit about some subjects, but to the almighty, holy, creator God. But unlike who wants to be a millionaire where you can only use it once we can continually come to God. But how often do we use it like those contestants only as a last resort.

(9-10)Reinforce the point of the illustration – what are the three things Jesus tells them to do? Ask, seek, knock. Approach God because he has the answers, and is able to answer your prayers – there is nothing he can’t do. Though that doesn’t mean that he will always give us what we ask for.

(11-13)God is good, in contrast to the home owner, in fact in contrast to us Jesus says. How does Jesus describe his disciples? “evil” – morally imperfect, opposed to God. If even evil father’s give good gifts to their children how much more will their and our morally perfect, gracious and holy loving heavenly Father give to those who ask him.

Have you seen the film, or the pantomime (given the season), of Aladdin? Some people seem to think prayer is a little like rubbing the magic lamp and then making your wishes.  You approach God you ask God gives - and even better you aren't just limited to three wishes and don't have to lug a dusty lamp around with you!

But the context of prayer answered is in the context of the prayer asked. It is the prayer that shares God’s concerns, that is for his kingdom not our comfort, for our daily needs not every desire, for forgiveness and the ability to forgive others not for a Mercedes SLK, for spiritual protection not a controlled care free life.

And the answer(13) is that God will give us his Holy Spirit if we ask him. His Spirit who guides us in prayer - enabling us to cry “Father…”, who makes God’s concerns our concerns, who enables us to pray God’s thoughts after him and who reminds us of the reality of our relationship, our dependence, and God’s goodness.

We can come to pray to God because Jesus has secured our relationship with God, not because we are perfect. It means if you haven’t prayed all week, this morning you can come to pray to your Father by grace. You don’t need to make atonement, Jesus has made atonement for you already, or feel wracked with guilt. You just need to come and talk to your Father.

But the Disciples Prayer also models for us the concerns of a disciple – the things we ought to be praying for. It lets us see the concerns of a disciple are those of the God he or she serves.

Jesus reminds us of the wonder that is prayer – now why wouldn’t you pray!

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