Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 35: Praying With Faith – Part 1 of 2

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 35 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “What is the difference between hope and faith?”

Jesus began to visit the towns and villages to which He had sent the seventy disciples. He arrived at Bethany and stayed at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. From there it was about a two mile walk to the Garden of Gethsemane where He liked to pray. At some point the disciples approached Him seeking to learn how to pray. Jesus obliged them and began with a rendition of what we now call the Lord’s Prayer, which He had previously taught them during the Sermon on the Mount two and one-half years earlier.

Read: Luke 11:1-13

What is the difference between hope and faith?
  • Hope is a desire for something.
  • Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.
  • “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,” Mark 11:24.
The first key element in praying is to become like the disciples, ask the Lord (James 1:5-7).

Jesus commands His disciples to begin prayer, with the Lord’s Prayer (see Lesson 12). Then He uses an illustration, which incorporates all three aspects of making prayer requests to God: Asking, seeking and knocking.

The illustration comes in the form of a parable, which I will call the “Parable of the Sleeping Friend”: Luke 11:5-8.

Upon reading this parable most Christians get the idea that Jesus wants them to persist in prayer to God about the same issue. That simply is not true!

Many illustrations that Jesus used were comparative parables. In other words, “something is like something else.” For example, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea. However, the “Parable of the Sleeping Friend” is a contrasting parable. In other words, something is unlike something else.

In this parable a man goes to his friend’s house while he is sleeping asking for the loan of some bread. The friend in the parable stands in contrast to God, who is closer than our friends (Proverbs 18:24). Second, God does not sleep (Psalm 121:3-4). And third, the man asks his friend to loan him three loaves of bread versus God, the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), who cannot be repaid. So the point of the parable is that 1) if a friend will give you what you need if you are persistence no matter what time of day or night, 2) how much more will God do to meet your needs.

In fact, Jesus wants his disciples to not miss the point! So He even goes so far as to restate the meaning of the parable two more ways. Read it carefully!: Luke 11:9-10.

Jesus continues the point by using more contrasts: Luke 11:11-13. In doing so He is explaining that if you ask God specifically for one thing, He won’t give you something other than what you asked for. And secondly, if you ask for something good He won’t give you that which is evil.

There are also two spiritual applications that can be made from his statement as well. Jesus used symbolic imagery consisting of a fish, a snake, an egg and a scorpion to convey these thoughts. In the previous lesson Jesus used the snake in regards to that which deceives and the scorpion in regards to that which brings death. Here He contrasts them with a fish and an egg. In doing so the passage can be read as follows:

“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for truth; he will not give him deception instead of truth, will he? Or if he is asked for life, he will not give him death, will he? 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 part 2 of this lesson, we will see what Jesus points to in regards to “what to ask for more of” in our prayer to the Father, which we will learn will bring both truth and life to all men.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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