Small Group Sermon Series Parables Of Jesus - Session 1
Sermon: The Friend at Midnight
Speaker: Rich Villodas
Date: August 13, 2017
Luke 11:1-13, [NIV]
1 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.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 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; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 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.’ 8 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.
9 “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 he 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!”
One of the greatest indications of our spiritual vitality is our relationship to God in prayer. As pastor and theologian Tim Keller puts it, “The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.” The Christian life is impossible to live without a deep and consistent commitment to prayer. This parable provides us with a way to center, ground, and energize us to be people who connect to God in prayer.
- How is your prayer life? Is there any aspect of it you want to grow in or see change?
- What does your prayer life reveal about your relationship with God? One way is to describe it in terms of what characterizes any relationship - frequency of communication, content, experience, etc.
- Sadly for many Christians, we live with what Quaker Parker Palmer calls a “functional atheism,” where though we may be engaged in Christian activities and attending Christian events, we functionally live as though God doesn’t exist. We are functionally atheists in that our lack of attention to communing with God is hardly different from that of atheists. How can a lack of prayer in a Christian’s life be akin to “functional atheism”?
Group Discussion Questions
Prayer is not about annoying God until you get God’s attention. The focus in this story is not the shameless persistence of the neighbor but rather his willingness to risk his reputation, shamelessly confessing what he doesn’t have. How does this shift in perspective affect how you see prayer? How does “shameless” mark your own prayer life?
- Shameless: Offensively bold behavior; assurance, accompanied with a disregard of the presence or opinion of others.
- What challenges do you experience in coming to God shamelessly?
- Prayer isn’t about getting God to do what we want but a means of relating to God as we truly are. Poor, needy, lost, dead. The way we pray is to shape the way we live. Where do you feel poor, needy, lost, or dead?
- What burdens of the false self could be lifted if you came with shameless acceptance of how poor, needy, lost, or dead you are?
- Rather than the common misperception that v. 9 is a formula to ask God repeatedly for what we want, this parable of Jesus points to how God gives us something much greater - the Holy Spirit - when we come to God in prayer (in the truth of our poverty, need, lostness and deadness). How does this confirm, shift, or stretch your views of prayer?
- How is receiving the Holy Spirit greater and what we truly need than getting specific answers to our requests?
- What are you taking away from this study?
- How do you want your relationship with God to grow? What is getting in the way of growth?
Note: Acknowledging a lack of desire for change is also valid. There can be seasons in our lives where we do not desire to change. In those times, one response can be to ask for the desire (if desired) to change and grow in intimacy with God.
Take some time to worship and name specific attributes you want to praise God for.
Example: God, I praise you for your kindness in remembering me and taking care of my job needs. God, I praise you for your goodness in desiring to give us the best things when we easily settle and ask for lesser things.
- Are there any life updates to pray for this week?