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Sep 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 18, 2022

Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion Community!    Peace be with you!

First of all, please forgive me!  Last week I told you that the Greek word “ailurophile” meant butterfly lover…well, what it really means is cat lover!  Now how could I get those confused?  I do love them both😊 There doesn’t seem to be a word for butterfly lover, only butterfly collector, which is “lepidopterist.”  Thank you for allowing me to clarify.  Mea Culpa!

This week as I was meditating on the Prayer Exercise that Chuck gave us, I noticed how many times the word US is mentioned.  First of all, ONE of His disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach US to pray.”  In Jesus’ response, which we know as the Lord’s prayer, He says we should say, “Give US,” “Forgive US,” “We OURSELVES,” and “Lead US not into temptation.” 

Wednesday, September 21, is designated as World Gratitude Day. So, this week, I’d like to say how I am particularly grateful for US, both here on Sundays and in our Lectio Divina groups.  Sincerely.

One more Greek word that comes to mind then is “Theophile,” which means Lover of God.  I am eternally grateful that the Spirit led me to this community of Theophiles.  You are my friends.  In the first verse of the Book of Acts, Luke refers to the letter’s recipient as Theophilus which means “Friend of God.”  I desire to be that, and I know you do too.

Pray with me: O God, may we never forget to be grateful for life.  May we approach it with wonder and hope, and a quest for the holy in it all. Lord, teach us to pray, that Your Name and Your Kingdom will be a blessing to all of us. Provide us Provision that we might share with the others of us, Peace that we may live in and offer Peace to everyone one of us, and Protection that we might boldly go about doing good in the world for the sake of all of us.  In Your Name and for Your Kingdom.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his ipudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” Luke 11:5-8

Intro: Have you ever considered how fortunate we are,

To have a record of Jesus’ private conversations with his disciples?
– here is Jesus, enlightening them to an essential facet of prayer
• we would not know this without Luke’s report of it
• this is why it’s important to me to study it carefully
– notice, Jesus’ preferred method of teaching was storytelling
• in two parables, he will reveal God’s heart toward us
• between the parables he gives specific prayer instructions

Our goal is to discover the meaning Jesus intended to communicate through this parable
– we must have that, because it was important to Jesus that we know it
• but I’m going to include some of my personal observations
• there are two ways I read, explore, and meditate on this story
◦ the first is cerebral – I read with my mind
◦ the second is devotional – I read with my heart
– with my heart, the entire parable talks to me about prayer
• and in ways Jesus may not have intended
• parables are not usually allegories
◦ in allegory, every detail stands for something
◦ parables typically teach one point using analogies
• my devotional reading is more allegory than parable

We’re going to start with a question:

Did Jesus us this parable to reveal what we need to bring to prayer,
– or did he reveal something about God to whom we pray?
• what we typically hear (and is implied by our translations)
◦ is that the parable teaches us how to wrestle things from God’s hand
◦ the parable tells us, God’s hand is already open

The parable begins with a question: “Which of you . . .?”
Jesus will begin the parable in verse 11 with the same words
– in fact, he begins several of his parables this way
• he describes a situation and asks what they think or what they would do
– Jesus walks disciples into this imaginary scene, in order to take them beyond it
• I see Jesus engaging their imagination with a story
• to enter prayer, it helps sometimes to use a little imagination
◦ we cannot see, hear, or feel God’s presence when we pray
◦ but we can imagine his presence
• what I do, is picture in my mind what I know to be real
◦ I use my imagination to get my heart and mind in that place
◦ but everything else about prayer is in spirit and in truth
– so take your imagination from the shelf, dust it off, and follow his parable
• the story is not our destination – it’s a starting point
• if we can imagine this situation in the ancient world behind us,
◦ perhaps we can imagine a better world around us and a better future ahead of us

Next, Jesus introduces the characters

First, there is “you”–his audience, and then there is a “friend”
– “friend” appears in Luke more than all the other New Testament writings together
• it is a theme that runs through his gospel
• Jesus gets in trouble more than once for being a friend to sinners
– the situation he describes is:
a friend — goes to a friend — on behalf of a friend
• Jesus wraps the parable in friendship
◦ that seems like a lovely way to talk about prayer
• Jesus is my friend that I can ask to help my other friends
◦ some of our family and friends can stop us from talking to them re: Jesus
◦ but they can’t stop us from talking to Jesus about them
– this is not the point Jesus intended with this parable,
• but it’s still a useful way of thinking about prayer
• loving friendship moves in all the directions of prayer

So a friend goes to a friend at midnight

If you want to know what is essential to prayer, this is it:
– we “go to him” – Jesus doesn’t make this point,
• he was simply building the plot of his story
• but still, if we’re not aware of going to God, and being with him
◦ then we have not prayed
◦ this is the uniqueness of prayer: it’s a conversation with God
– another thing Jesus is not saying is when it is the best time to pray
• that the friend comes at midnight is another plot element
◦ the point is that his arrival and request were inconvenient
• but still, there’s no place we cannot pray,
no situation we cannot bring to God,
◦ and there is no wrong time to pray
Not even between the moment between being demanded to say something and giving our answer
Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king . . . (Neh. 2:4-5)

I admit, I do not have a refined sense of humor

It has not matured above an adolescent stage
– so I find it amusing that this person says, “lend me three loaves”
• did he intend to return the bread after he borrowed it?
◦ of course, he meant that he would return the favor
◦ and, of course, this has nothing to do with point Jesus is making
• still, when Jesus talks about lending to others, doing so involves a risk
. . . love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return (Lk. 6:35)
– it is possible Jesus uses bread in parable connection with the Lord’s Prayer
• we could say, prayer is how we ask God to pass food across the table
• but, again, that is not the meaning of the parable

The friend explains, “a friend of mine has arrived on a journey”

Travelers in those days relied on hospitality for their survival
– this was not an unusual situation
• the details would be familiar to Jesus’ audience, so no need to elaborate
• my devotional thought:
◦ God has every human person on a spiritual journey
◦ we agree to travel with him or we resist
• I believe God wants everyone to arrive at his door
◦ and that he wants us to provide roadside assistance
◦ like the Good Samaritan

The last word of the friend’s request, “I have nothing to set before him”

In Genesis, Joseph had an awesome opportunity to impress Pharaoh
– but he knew better than to take credit for God’s role
Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Gen. 41:16)
– in prayer, I bring my nothingness to God
• and out of nothing, he creates something
• in every prayer, we come with empty hands
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it
(Ps. 81:10)

After all this, an answer came from within, “Do not bother me”
– that’s what we assume we hear from God sometimes
• but it is only the echo of an annoyed parent, or teacher, or boss
• on the other hand, we sometimes treat prayer as ding dong ditch
◦ we make our request and don’t wait on God’s step for an answer
◦ we don’t allow time to sit and listen for the voice from within
– but that wasn’t Jesus’ point either

Conclusion: The meaning of the parable hinges on one word:

My translation reads “impudence,” and in the margin, “persistence”
– but the Greek word does not have either of those meanings
• when this word is used in various Greek writings, it means “shamelessness”
◦ and it is disgraceful and not an attitude we want to add to our prayers
Prof. Klyne Snodgrass, “The question [“Which of you”] appears eleven times in the Gospels. In all of them the question asks if anyone would do some hypothetical action, and in each case the implied answer is ‘No one.’”
• so Jesus asks his disciples, “Which of you would turn away a friend who came for bread in the middle of the night?”
◦ their shameless friend may act disgracefully, but they would not be so dishonorable as to say, “Don’t bother me!”
– Jesus is not drawing a comparison of God and the sleeping friend behind the closed door
• he is making a contrast
◦ God does not shut out his children who come to him with their needs
◦ or with the needs of others
Snodgrass, “The parable says in effect: ‘If a human will obviously get up in the middle of the night to grant the request even of a rude friend, will not God much more answer your requests?”

So Jesus is telling his disciples (and us!)
God is not impossible to please
He is not like a parent or boss who is hard to win over
The theme song of the Hebrew Scriptures is:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his lovingkindness endures forever (Ps. 136:1)
God is infinitely loving–infinitely generous
And this is the crucial truth that Jesus wants us to know about prayer

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