Thursday, March 17, 2016

Persistence in Prayer –Part 1

Michael writes this week that according to the Westminster Confession, the chief aim of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Glory means weighty … it describes something of significance that has “gravitas.” Glory means consequential. A glorious man or woman has substance. They are substantial, and they matter. Because we have been created in Christ Jesus, we are weighty in God’s eyes. However, in the eyes of the world we are inconsequential because the world cannot perceive the things of the Spirit. When our prayers take the form of petition, we acknowledge that God is the source of our significance and glory. Prayer also tells us about the origin of our own heart. Prayer is the involuntary reflex of the human soul. Communion and communication with God is hard wired into our earthen vessel. Even those who are unbelievers pray when confronted by death. There are no atheists in foxholes. When his death was near, even Mark Twain, an avowed non-Christian said, “I prayed like never before.” When we stand at the threshold of death and glimpse our own mortality, these are “come to Jesus moments.”

In Luke 11:5, after Jesus had taught his disciples the “Lord’s prayer,” He gave them an illustration about the benefits of persistent prayer. Jesus said, “When a friend who comes to you at midnight, knocks on your door, and says “I have a guest and have no bread to serve him,” will you say to him, “Go away, don’t bother me. It’s too late and my wife and children are already in bed.” However, because of your neighbor’s persistent knocking, won’t you simply get up and give him what he needs? Luke’s story about a cranky neighbor is an illustration of asking and receiving. In Jesus’ culture, neighborliness and hospitality were in vogue. The culture placed a high value on hospitality and considered it an honor to host a sojourner who needed a place to stay for the night. They believed that taking care of strangers was “entertaining angels unawares.”  The host was obligated to fix a hot meal for the stranger. A stranger arriving at a house was considered the guest of the entire community. However, this host wasn’t prepared to feed his honored guest resulting in a shameful situation and a bad reflection on the neighborhood. A similar situation is when my wife says “I have nothing to wear.”  She literally means “I have nothing to wear that will uphold the honor of my family.” When the host knocked on his neighbor’s door a literal translation of his request was, “I have nothing to uphold the honor of the community.” The neighbor’s first reaction was, “get lost, my kids are already asleep and in bed. I can’t get up and help you.” In Jesus’ day, this was not the appropriate response and was unthinkable. Jesus said, the solution to the problem is to keep on asking. The parable is a contrast between a cranky neighbor and a loving God who is eager to meet his children’s needs. The key is persistence. If you have the persistence to keep on asking a cranky neighbor, he will accommodate your request. Likewise, keep on asking a benevolent and loving God. 

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

The story in Luke 11:11-13 continues, “Which of you fathers, if one of your children asks for a fish, will instead give him a snake that looks like a fish?”  Children trust their fathers to make decisions that are good for them. A child has the persistent audacity to keep on asking his father for what he wants. If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your own children, how much more will a loving heavenly father give good gifts to his children who ask him?  We who are fathers know the joy of giving good gifts to our own children. Take that feeling and multiply it ten times infinity and you’ll approach the joy that God feels to give good gifts to his children. 

Let’s continue Michael’s message on persistent prayer on the next post.

In Christ, Brian

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