Feb 24 2019 Luke - Jesus Understood the Power of Prayer
24th February 2019
Due to technical difficulties, there is no video/audio of the sermon this week. Lord, thank You for the opportunity to remember You through the breaking of bread. We are grateful for that opportunity to know and look back on what You did for us on the cross – and the reminder of the bread and cup of You and what You’ve done. As we look at Your word, may we not lose sight of what this is all about – that You died on the cross for us that we might live with You forever.
The gospel of Luke emphasizes the role that PRAYER plays in the life of Jesus.
Jesus had been healing people –
15 But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
The busier His life got in ministry, Jesus understood – the more He needed time with the Father. He developed a habit, and a pattern, that as everything started pressing in on Him – as the margins started fraying – He would break away to spend time with God. But for us, it is SO easy to let that part of our life drift when things get busy.
6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
This is right before He chooses the 12 disciples who would be with Him. Before every important decision and event, Luke records Jesus spending time praying. Prayer is indicative of a turning point.
9:18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?“ (9:18)
This is where Peter says – You are the Christ – and Jesus begins explaining that He will have to suffer, die, and go to the cross.
9:28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. (9:28)
This is the Transfiguration – only Luke mentions that they went up on the mountain to pray. Jesus used prayer to usher in every major event…
Luke 11: It happened that while Jesus was praying (this just keeps coming up over and over again) in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples."
What is unique – as we head into the Lord’s prayer – in Matthew, this is just in the context of the Sermon on the Mount – but here, it is connected with Jesus praying. And the disciples ask – how do we pray?
2 And He said to them, "When you pray, say:( Luke is doing something a little bit differently – he is telling them to pray this prayer, but he is also giving them a pattern of how to pray. It is okay to use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern as it is to say it as a prayer.) 'Father (this shows an intimate relationship with God – it is not exactly – but it is like a child saying Daddy – intimate and relational – the first focus should be on relationship – not on ‘getting stuff’ – the firs priority is relationship) hallowed be Your name (Hallowed – honored and made known – that His name would be known – honored – looked on positively – glorified). Your kingdom come. (Prayer is a way of making God’s name known through prayer – it is about Kingdom stuff – Spiritual stuff – moving God’s kingdom forward as we pray – and then basic physical needs: 3 'Give us each day our daily bread. This would be very literal – they NEEDED bread daily – we have refrigerators! But for many in Jesus’ culture – eating was not a daily event. We have at least something every day. Then He goes on to say: 4 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" He deals with reconciling with relationships – interpersonal relationships – and closes it off with temptation and the spiritual battle that is in front of all of us. What we see in this prayer – it is not primarily about getting God to give us stuff – and that is not the primary purpose.
Matthew has a longer version of the prayer –
Dallas Willard: He turned and finished with his own words that relate to where we are.
“Dear Father always near us, may your name be treasured and loved, may your rule be completed in us— may your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven. Give us today the things we need today, and forgive us our sins and impositions on you as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us. Please don’t put us through trials, but deliver us from everything bad. Because you are the one in charge, and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours—forever— which is just the way we want it!” Very simple. It is okay to take these prayers in the Bible and put them into word
5 Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8 "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
When we read this in our culture – but it is important to think of it in Jesus’ culture – we think this is very rude! The people listening to this story would have said – that man who is asleep is rude! In their culture, they place enormous value and high priority on hospitality – and when a traveler comes – in a desperate situation – he had a responsibility to feed them – and for the audience – can you imagine someone not getting up and giving him bread? No one would ever do that!
When we read this – it is easy – when we see the word persistent – I think a better translation would be shamelessness and boldness – but we think this is to pester God – but it is saying the opposite – God is nothing like that person – He is waiting to give to you – You just need to ask!
9 "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. 10 "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
Ask and keep asking because Jesus/God wants to keep giving. We know what the asking should be about from what is written earlier. Then he uses an illustration, comparing God the Father to a human father…
11 "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?
I think sometimes we are afraid to ask God for things because deep down we think He will give us something we don’t want – or will disappoint me with what He gives me. I think that is what Jesus is addressing – you don’t have to be afraid that God will give something harmful!
13 "If you then, being evil (God is the perfect Father in every way), 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?"
We think – that is something weird – to thrown in there.
Why the Holy Spirit?
I think He is taking it back to the Lord’s Prayer. What does the giving of the Holy Spirit have to do here? When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are receiving the presence of God. Dear Father – always near us – as Dallas Willard put it.
We receive protection and power for the mission and calling that God has called us to. The Spirit of God comes in and begins to work in all those ways in our lives.
Looking back a few weeks to Jesus’ baptism:
Luke 3: 21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying (only Luke adds this), heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."
It is a hyperlink from this verse to the other – and Luke keeps making the connections – it is all tied together. Within this receiving of the Holy Spirit and praying – He is the beloved son – the relationship is emphasized – and immediately after this, Jesus is led into the wilderness! Lead us not into temptation – but Jesus was led to the wilderness to do battle with the dark forces. And He comes out of that in the POWER of the Holy Spirit!
There is this power of Prayer – emphasizing kingdom work – and the power required.
The context of the Lord’s prayer: Jesus had sent the 70 out:
Luke 10:17 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." 18 And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.
So, Jesus is showing the prayer is a way of engaging the dark forces – and before we get too caught up in the warfare and spiritual battle – and for some, that is all they do – but Jesus continues:
20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."
It is not about that! It is about salvation – Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – that is what it is all about!
21 At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, (like the beginning of the Lord’s prayer) that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
What happens – this spontaneous praise and prayer – what it does – Jesus knew how to live moment by moment in the presence of the Father. It was not just in His prayer time – but within His day He could recognize each instance as an opportunity to be in the presence of God.
IN our lives we need to do the same – when we are driving our car – God is present in His car with me! At work – God is present with me! Whatever we are doing – to recognize that God is with us.
Luke 22: 31 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;
I always hate coming to this verse! What is going to happen to me next? Where in the world did ‘that one’ come from?! That is probably what happened to Peter – NO! NEVER! This could never happen to ME! Sometimes that which we think could never happen may happen! But then He says this -
32 but I have prayed for you
Isn’t that cool? When we are going through the fire – the struggle – when it is all coming down on us – We often ask others to pray for us
Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25 NAU)
Jesus intercedes for us – that our faith may not fail -
, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.“
We’ll go through it – times of sifting – difficult times – it shows His presence with us in all of that – He is ever-present with you in your most difficult times. He draws near to the brokenhearted. He draws near to us in our struggle.
Our tendency, as humans – is to pull away – we think He doesn’t want us now – but that is not true – it is in those times He wants you most –
Grace abound – where sin runs deep – Your grace is more...
When you have returned – strengthen others!