The Parables of Christ – Friend At Midnight

In studying the parables of Jesus, we have seen how He used the parabolic method of teaching on different subjects…. Mostly on the theme of the kingdom of heaven, But also in response to questions by His disciples and even His enemies. 

One such parable was told in response to a question related to prayer…

a. Jesus had been praying in a certain place – Lk 11:1

b. When He ceased praying, one of His disciples asked:  “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”

Luke 11:1-13

11:1* ¶ It happened that while Jesus was praying 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.”

2* And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.

3* ‘Give us each day our daily bread.

4* ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

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.

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.

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?

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?”

In answering the request to teach them how to pray, Jesus did three things:

1. He first told them “how” and “what” to pray for 

He then told a parable to stress a crucial element in “how” to pray 

3. He followed up by elaborating on what the parable was designed to illustrate

The parable is known as “The Friend At Midnight” and In it we find Jesus illustrating the importance of persistence in prayer.

Notice first of all, that the ……

JESUS’ PRAYING PROMPTS A REQUEST

 A. HE HAD BEEN PRAYING IN A CERTAIN PLACE -  Lk 11:1a

1. In the gospels we see glimpses into the prayer habits of Jesus

a. Rising early to pray in a solitary place – Mk 1:35

b. Often withdrawing into the wilderness to pray – Lk 5:16

c. Praying all night in preparation to selecting His apostles – Lk 6:12-13

d. His beautiful prayer recorded in Jn 17

e. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane – Mt 26:36-44

f. His prayers on the cross – Mt 27:46; Lk 23:34,46

2. Undoubtedly His example had an impact on those who saw Him praying

And so A DISCIPLE WANTS JESUS TO TEACH THEM TO PRAY - Lk 11:1b

1. Even as John had taught his disciples

2. Certainly this Jewish disciple knew how to pray in some sense, but understood that Jesus had so much more to teach him

Here is one of the first lessons we might consider – we may know how to pray, but we can always learn more from the Master of prayer…..

JESUS ANSWERS The question BY TEACHING A MODEL PRAYER

This is COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS “THE LORD’S PRAYER”… 

1. Recorded here in Lk 11:2-4

2. Also in His sermon on the mount – Mt 6:9-13

THIS PRAYER SERVES AS AN EXAMPLE… 

1. The words “ Pray, then, in this way” (Mt 6:9) suggest that “The Lord’s Prayer” is a pattern and NOT a liturgy that must be recited every time we pray

Here we begin to learn the “how” and “what” of prayer

Jesus’ pattern for prayer is an “illustration” in contrast to the “many words” used by the heathen

3) In the prayer itself, note the brevity of words – Lk 11:2-4

2* And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.

3* ‘Give us each day our daily bread.

4* ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

We learn the “WHAT” of prayer should include such things as:

1) Reverence for God and His “Name” (i.e., His Being and Character) – Lk 11:2

2) Praying for the progress of God’s Kingdom and Will on the earth – Lk 11:2

3) Asking for physical necessitiesLk 11:3

4) Also, our spiritual needs

a) Forgiveness of sins as we forgive others- Lk. 11:4

b) Protection and deliverance from evil – Lk 11:4

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus chose to follow His pattern prayer with an emphasis on forgiving others (Mt 6:14-15).  But on this occasion, He has a different concern in mind.  So He follows with a parable…….

Which we have come to call THE PARABLE OF THE FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT

We might summarize the THE PARABLE this way …

1. You find yourself with company and inadequate provisions

2. Yet you know that you can go to your friend’s house and borrow some food

3. Even if it late at night, and…

a. He and his family are already in bed

b. He would normally not help you, even though you are a friend

…yet you know that if you “persist”, he will help you! – Lk 11:5-8

THE POINT OF THE PARABLE IS SIMPLE, BUT IMPORTANT…

1. Jesus is illustrating the importance of “persistence in praying”

  2. One does not know “how” to pray, then, unless they learn to be persistent in prayer! 

The importance of persistence is stressed in the context here, it is clearly seen in the

Application Jesus makes OF THE PARABLE illustrates the importance of PERSISTENCE:

Lk 11:9-10

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.

It is those who ask, seek, and knock, who will receive, find, and have doors opened.  The verbs here are in the presence tense – “ask”, “seek”, and “knock” -  (literally, “keep on asking”, “keep on seeking”, and “keep on knocking”) …. you see, persistence is require.

Furthermore, persistence is seen in the progressive relation between the words: 

1) One normally starts out by “asking”

2) As they learn more, they begin “seeking”

3) As they arrive close to their destination, they start “knocking”

Here is another lesson we should learn along the way:  Failure to persist in prayer may be one reason some prayers go unanswered! 

In this parable Jesus calls us to REMEMBER WHO IT IS YOU ARE ASKING – Lk 11:11-13

1. To encourage persistence in prayer, Jesus speaks of earthly fathers and their sons

a. If a son asks his father for bread, while he give him a stone?

b. If he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead?

c. If he asks for an egg, will the father offer him a scorpion?

Each of these rhetorical questions imply a definite “No!” 

Then how much more will our heavenly Father gives us that which is good? 

a. If earthly fathers, though evil, know how to give  good gifts to their children

b. How much more will our heavenly Father give the Spirit to those who ask Him?

c. This reference to the Holy Spirit may relate to promise of the Spirit

1) A promise made by Jesus on another occasion – Jn 7:37-39

2) A promise offered by Peter on the day of Pentecost – Ac 2:38-39

Here is the POINT THAT JESUS IS MAKING:

1. If persistence with a friend will prove fruitful (cf. the parable)…

2. If earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children…

…how much more will persistence prove fruitful with our heavenly Father! 

CONCLUSION

1. We may know “how” to pray when it comes to saying the right things, but from this parable we learn that we do not know “how” to pray until we have learned to pray with “persistence” 

So important is this quality of prayer that Jesus taught another parable on the very same  theme! (cf. “The Parable Of The Persistent Widow” – Lk 18:1-8) 

Here is what we have learned from this parable:

1. That we have a heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children

2. That this should motivate us to ask, and to ask persistently!

And then, lastly, let me ask you, Have you received the gift spoken of in our text?

The Father gives His Spirit to those who obey Him in faith, repentance and baptism… – cf. Jn 7:37-39; Ac 2:38; 5:32(thanks to Mark A. Copeland for adapted notes above)

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