Pentecost 7C - Luke 11:1-13

Luke 11:1–13 (NIV)

11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“ ‘Father, hallowed be Your name,

Your Kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. 

And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

          There’s one thing you can’t do without in a family - you can’t survive without communication. You need it for all family relationships - husbands  and wives, brothers & sisters, parents & children.              

          Let’s look at the relationship of children and parents - children, depend on their parents right from birth for all their needs. It doesn't take long for babies to communicate the needs they have to their parents, as Diane & found out when our children were babies.                  

          Children’s needs are soon transmitted to the parents by sounds. At first rather unattractive noises (crying), and then, slowly by more intelligible vocal efforts (mama, dada, etc.).

Right from the beginning, parents of a baby soon know what the various noises mean; hunger, tiredness, boredom, the dirty or wet nappy, the need for closeness, and the list goes on, and continues to grow as the child grows.                  

          It doesn't take long for children to know all about birthday and Christmas presents. Children become excited as one of these important days comes closer. They soon come running to mum, dad with requests for different toys and sweets. Children usually know what they want and when they want it.

          When it’s gift time. Freddy wants the latest Harry Potter Lego or Duplo and Joeline wants the new Build a Bot Puppy or Unicorn. When you ask children what they’d like as a gift they usually soon let you know. They don't often hesitate to tell you.                Most children are always ready to ask for something. They talk to their parents about their needs as they see them.                           But it’s not just children who have needs. You all do. You communicate your needs, wants and desires to those around you; to your family, your friends and sometimes even to people you don’t know.

          One of Jesus’ disciples had a need. He wanted to learn how to pray. He wanted to communicate with God. He wanted to be effective in his communication. This disciple was seeking an authoritative teaching, one he could apply to his life and relationship with God.                            

           He asked Jesus to teach them, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."  Jesus immediately began to teach the prayer we pray when we gather for worship, the Lord's Prayer.

“‘Father, hallowed be Your name,

Your Kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins,

for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. 

And lead us not into temptation.’”

          In these few words Jesus summed up all that needs to be talked about with God.  Jesus taught that attitude was more important than quantity, and that prayer is essential for the life and growth of the Christian. 

          You believe that Jesus is your Lord and that you have a living relationship with Him. You also know that for any relationship to be effective, there must be regular and good communication.

          In a congregation there are often problems if the church council doesn’t communicate with the members they represent and vice versa. All parts of the relationship begin to break down, the running of the property, the enthusiasm of the members and the message visitors and guests take away with them.

          For your relationship with God to be maintained, and for it to grow, there must be communication. God has given you His Word and the Sacraments. These are His direct communication with you.                

       But communication is always a two-way thing. We need to listen and talk with God - to respond to Him. Jesus expects you to pray, He says, "When you pray, …

          Jesus could have said ...if you pray... but He expects you to pray. Some of you may pray to God only when you’re in trouble, as though He were the fire brigade - there for an emergency, just waiting to pour water on all of your problems. But there is more to God than emergency services. 

          Many of you call on your family when you need a hand. You communicate with your family members and ask their help. You also share your joys and blessings with them: your spouse, parents, children, brothers and sisters.

          Parents like to hear what their children have been doing; God too, likes you to share with Him what you’ve been doing.  He wants you to tell Him your joys, sorrows, needs and feelings.  God wants you to remain in contact with Him.

          You are all aware that there are some problems which can arise when communicating. For example, in any relationship distance can be a real problem, it can hamper effective communication.  The further you move from friends the harder it is to keep contact with them. 

          It's like that with God too. The more you neglect to communicate with God the harder it is to have a healthy relationship with Him. You neglect His Word, you don't acknowledge His gifts to you, you don't seek His help and you lose touch with God. If you don't speak with God, how can you hear what He is saying to you.

          When the disciple asked Jesus to teach them to pray he was really asking, “How can we have an effective relationship with God and be confident that He listens to us?” Jesus‘ answer to the request, was the Lord’s Prayer and the teaching which followed. Jesus tells you what God says is important for you to communicate and then how you are to pray.

          In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches you to get to the point.  Don’t beat around the bush.  God knows who He is, He wants you to know and recognise Him too.  God knows what you need, He gives that to you too, even when you forget to ask Him. 

          When you pray to the Lord your God, you’re giving Him the glory He deserves, recognising His authority as your Creator, Provider and Saviour.  You also recognise that you’re not up to scratch in His creation, and remind God that you’re His, that He made promises to each of you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in whose name you were Baptised. 

          You recognise that God is your loving Father, a good father who provides for and looks after you,  His children, even when you make a mess of you lives.

          God always listens to you. When you call on God you’re obeying His will for you in the greatest commandment, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And also obeying the second commandment which is like it as you love and pray for your neighbour as yourself.

          You’re saying to God, “I recognise my life with You, I owe You everything because of Jesus Christ”.

          It’s through Jesus that you can call on God as you would call to your human Parent - someone you love, honour trust and obey. You recognise though, that God does not have the faults you have often seen in your human parents.

          If a child persists in asking for something for a birthday or for Christmas, he or she will often receive what’s been asked for.

Children receive gifts not because they asked but because by their continual asking, they show they have sincerity in their request. If it were not important for them to receive the item asked for, they would soon change their minds and ask for something else.

          Our text speaks of a man who needed some bread for a meal for a traveller, late one night. He went and asked a friend for bread. The friend was already in bed and didn’t want to get up to give him the bread.

          Jesus said, of the man in bed, …, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. Instead of shameless audacity you can also use the word persistence. The man boldly persisted in asking for what he needed. 

          You have the privilege and responsibility of calling on God and asking  Him for what you need. It means that you should continue to call on Him for everything and for everyone.

     Jesus promises you that your prayers are heard and answered. He says, ... 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Keep on asking, don't give up. 

          There’s nothing you can’t ask God for. He makes it imperative that you do ask Him, seek Him and knock when you want to enter. God doesn't turn you away.  He’s called you to His door through the message of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Christ has taken away the barriers which prevented you from talking with God. So, keep listening and talking.

          Amen.