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Jack Graham - Audacious Prayer

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    Jack Graham - Audacious Prayer
TOPICS: Why Believe?, Boldness, Prayer

Now we are in a series of messages from the Gospel of Luke: WHY BELIEVE. And we're doing a breakout series on the parables that Jesus gave us in the Gospel of Luke. Powerful stories, and we're asking the question: What's your story? Because these stories each of the stories that Jesus gives us are stories about life. And ultimately they are stories about you and me. The message today is "Audacious Prayer". There's something about that word "audacious" that I absolutely love. Audacious, big, bold, effervescent, enthusiastic, exciting, passionate, persistent prayer! That's what this message is about!

Now prayer is really our native air. Certainly as followers of Christ it is spiritual breathing, because in Him we live and move and have our being. Prayer for all of us who name the name of Christ is not a last chance, but the first choice. Don't be like the person who had a lot of problems and crisis in his life and someone said, "Well, you ought to pray". And he said, "Dear God, has it come to that"? No, prayer is not the last resort; it is not the last chance but our first choice. We are commanded to pray. It is one the essentials of the Christian life. Not an option but an obedience to God. And an opportunity... an opportunity to receive from Him all that He desires to give. And our God is a good God. He is a gracious God, and He delights to give good things to His children.

And it's amazing to me as I'm sure it is to you, that we struggle in this area of prayer when God has promised so much. I wonder when we get to heaven how many unclaimed blessings will be there waiting for us because we never asked this side of eternity? We are to pray, persistently, passionately in dependence and in obedience. Prayer changes everything about me, starting with me. It... it changes my perspective in life. It changes how I view every thing that I do, And when I learn to humble myself in prayer and hunger more for Him, I discover a life of dependence and obedience and yes, a life filled with spiritual breakthroughs and benefits because God desires to give you good things. God desires to bless you beyond what you can even imagine. Prayer flows out of your relationship with Christ.

When the disciples in Luke chapter 11, verse 1, observe Jesus praying, they said: "Lord, teach us to pray". There was something about the prayer life of Jesus that was captivating and compelling. Jesus would often get up before daybreak and pray. He would at times pray through the evening and through the hours of the night. Before the cross He poured out sweat, blood, and tears in Gethsemane, praying. He prayed over Jerusalem. He prayed from the cross. Jesus was a Man of prayer! And so the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray"! I mean really pray! Now these men would have grown up praying of a sort... of a kind, but they knew there was something different about Jesus and the way Jesus prayed, and so they said, "Lord, teach us to pray". John the Baptist teaches his disciples to pray; Lord, teach us to pray. And so Jesus gave them the words known as the Lord's Prayer.

Now, it's not essentially the Lord's prayer; it is more of the disciple's prayer. A prayer that Jesus gave for His disciples and all of His followers... you and me... to pray. It is a template, if you will, to pray. We can learn to pray the Jesus way. "Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be your name". It Begins with this relationship with Christ and the upward dimension of prayer... the vertical dimension of prayer. And then beyond, the horizontal aspects of prayer as we pray for forgiveness, as we pray for our friends, as we... as we pray for blessings from God... protection from the hand of God. This is the model prayer, and it is the basic level of all praying. It's a structure.

Now Jesus never taught us to pray with these word, but rather in this way. There's nothing wrong with praying the words of this prayer. I pray it often in fact. But prayer is never to be routine or ritualistic; it is never to be given in a rote sort of way, a routine kind of way. We ought not to have to pray teleprompter prayers, scripted prayers. The prayer that God hears is the prayer that comes form the heart, because in praying we offer conversation with God, not only speaking, but listening. We don't show up to pray and say, "Listen, Lord, you're servant is speaking"! But we show up and say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening". And God desires to bless us. I've said for many years, prayer's not overcoming God's reluctance but laying hold of His highest willingness to bless His children.

So prayer is not changing God's mind as much as it is finding God's mind. And when we pray we discover the presence and the power and the peace that comes. We're to pray without ceasing. The Scripture says that we're to always pray, to pray without ceasing. Prayer is not lip service; it is a lifestyle. More than your words, your life praying. But then it is expressed in the words that flow from the heart that is tuned to Him. Now prayer is normal and in that sense it is natural to the believer. It's a supernatural experience and event when you pray, but really it is the natural response to a born-again believer. We're not heard because of our much... our eloquence; we're not heard because of our elocution, not the language of our prayers, the length of our prayers or the logic of our prayers, but because of the life that prays before God.

Does that communicate what I'm trying to say to you right now? It's not all your words that matter; it is the genuineness of your heart. God is listening for heart people whose lives are transparent before Him, who are laid out before Him. The word prayer that Jesus uses here in Luke chapter 11 is a word... it's the most simple and basic of all the words for prayer, and it means "to wish forward". What is a wish? It is a desire. God wants to hear the desires of our heart. Psalm 37, and verse 4. "We delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart".

He wants to hear your heart! He wants to hear your hope! He wants to hear your desires, your dreams. He wants to hear about your failures as well as your successes! Your fears, your frustrations! But most of all He wants to see your faith! Your faith. We can pray anywhere, anytime about anything. We pray about our needs, we pray for our families, we pray for our kids, we pray when we are in pain, and when we're suffering, when we're living in victory, when we... We pray about our finances. We can pray about anything and everything! Always! But there are times when prayer becomes desperate and that's a different level of praying. All the basics that I just talked about, all the dailies of prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread". We're to always pray like this... consistently, faithfully. But there comes a time when we pray with desperate, heartfelt cries to God.

How many times in the Bible do we read when people cried out to God? Poured out their lives before the Lord! A whole new level and a different kind of praying. And that's what Jesus talks about in His parable on prayer known as "The Friend at Midnight". Look at it with me beginning at verse 5: "And he said to them, 'which of you has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine"'", now he's talking about you. Put yourself in this situation, "'"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"?'"

Now picture this scene for just a moment. In the Middle East they went to bed shortly after dark. They extinguished the lamp, put the kids in bed, and typically the houses were very small, often the children slept with their family. Their parents. (Just like Deb and I sleep with our dogs right now. Yes, Duce and Yogi are a lot closer than you would think.) But all the kids are in bed. The lights are out. It's midnight! And then, rapping at the door, the neighbor next door, a friend is knocking outside. Now, have you ever startled in the middle of the night with that doorbell ringing or someone knocking on your door? Or that phone call? It's not a happy experience, right? It's frightening for one thing. But this man is knocking at the door, and he had a problem because he had friends that showed up at his house and his cupboard was bare. He had nothing to give to his friends! No food in the house!

And in the Middle Eastern culture of that time in particular hospitality to travelers and friends and family who arrived was of extreme importance. It would be a shameful thing not to entertain your friends or your houseguests whenever they came. And so this man is... His cupboard is bare, he's nothing to give. It's empty! And so he thinks, "I'll go to my next door neighbor". Old Joe's a good guy and so he just boldly goes and bodaciously knocks on that door. The man typically says, "Go away! Too late"! But Jesus said in verse 8: "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend".

Being a friend wasn't good enough to this guy. He said, he didn't get up because of the man's friendship, but he got up because of this man's desperation for it says, because of his impudence. We see that as a negative word and in one sense I presume it is. It's a word rather which means shamelessness. This man throws aside custom and decorum and in desperation he knocks on that door until his knuckles are bruised. Why? He's trying to get bread for his friend. Jesus said because of this man's impudence, his shamelessness... Here's an old word, a good word, importunity. Something so important, his importunity! The man opens the door. And that's when Jesus gave us this incredible word in verse 9: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you".

There in itself is the formula for prayer, given in imperatives. Literally active imperative: keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. A-S-K. Ask... asking, seeking, knocking! Asking is petitioning prayer... it's the simple ask. Seeking is what I would call perceiving prayer... seeking God's will, seeking God's word. It's more than asking; it is seeking God! It is seeking God's will! It is seeking God's word! And then knocking, that's persistent prayer. To keep on knocking until the answer comes! What a lesson on audacious praying! We learn from Jesus here that we are to pray passionately, desperately, fervently, with the situation demands it; big, bold, bodacious, audacious prayer! Not just to pray, but to pray on and to pray through, to pray hard!

Jesus is not suggesting that we must beg God in the sense of forcing His hand. In fact, it is the opposite. This is a contrast. Jesus is about to show us that God who is good and desires to give good things to His children, unlike this man who didn't want to get out of the bed to help his friend. If a human being would, because of importunity, because of fervent request. If a man would do that, think what God would do when we simply ask, seek and knock! I do know this; that God does business with those who mean business with Him! Away with half-hearted, heartless prayer! But may we pray shamelessly, may we pray with great passion. Because it costs to pray like this. It cost blood, sweat and tears, your blood, your sweat, your tears to pray like this, to bruise your knuckles, asking, seeking and knocking. But it's worth it because when we pray, God moves! When we pray, God answers! He gives us all we need and more! His favor which means God gives us more than we could possibly deserve! That's God's favor!

We need to learn how to cry out to God, church! Today is a time to rev up our praying, to ratchet it up, to pray with urgency, with intensity, with... with importunity! That kind of praying! The kind of prayer that Jacob prayed with he wrestled with God and said, "God, I won't turn you loose unless you bless me"! And he was broken, but then blessed! And became a prince of Israel. The kind of prayer that we saw in that woman in Luke chapter 8 several weeks ago who was diseased with a blood disease and she was hemorrhaging and she had tried out every doctor. She was just living on doctors and doctors couldn't help. And she heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by and she wondered, "if I could just touch the hem of His garment... if I could just reach out and take hold of His robe, then maybe I could be healed".

And in that story the crowd was preventing her from getting to Jesus so... what did she do? She worked her way through. Sometimes you gotta work your way through when you pray! The distractions and the diversions and even people! And she kept inching her way through and working her way through until she could just reach out as Jesus was passing by and she took hold of His robe... of His robe and she was instantaneously healed! Jesus stopped, called her out, said, "Who touched Me"? Because He knew that the power, the healing power that He possessed had flowed out to someone and He wanted her to identify herself. Of course, He knew, but she professed her faith.

Sometimes when you're sick and when you're hurting and when you're dying, and when you wonder how you're going to make it! You just have to keep pushing through! You have to keep working your way through just to touch the hem of His garment! But that's the kind of prayer I'm talking about today! That Jesus told us about in this parable. It's the same kind of prayer when Jesus was coming off the Mountain of Transfiguration, when everything He was on the inside was displayed on the outside. He's visiting with Elijah, He's visiting with Moses. The disciples below are dealing with a demon possessed boy. They try as hard as they could to heal this boy and couldn't. So when Jesus came down, He saw the boy, He touched him, he was healed. The disciples were exasperated. They said, "Why couldn't we do this? Why couldn't we heal this boy"? And Jesus said... Remember what He said? "This kind comes only", by what? "Prayer and fasting".

That's the kind of prayer we're talking about. Often accompanied by fasting. Where we give up and sacrifice some things that we love in order to ask, to seek and to knock. This man who came at midnight, knocking on his neighbor's door... He was not afraid! He was not ashamed! He was shameless! When's the last time you offered a shameless prayer to God? I think sometimes we're so afraid that, you know, if we ask for something too big or too great, God might not come through and it would be embarrassing. This man didn't... he didn't care what others thought. He just cried out in the middle of the night for what he needed! We pray too many safe prayers. You know, generalized prayers.

Let me tell you something, this prayer that he offered. This man was specific. He said, "three loaves of bread". That was a day's provision. "Give me three"! We pray these little safe general prayers. We don't know if God answers them or not. Hey, say this: the prayer that is selective is effective. Alright? Tweet that! The prayer that is selective is effective! Give me three loaves! Tell God what you want, what you need! Because I love that song, "All I have needed Thy hand has provided". Amen? Great is Thy Faithfulness! Philippians 4:19, "My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ".

James said, James 4:2 "You have not because you ask not". I know this, the only prayer that God does not answer is the prayer that you don't ask! Ask! Seek! Knock! And Jesus closed this up by giving the principle. He said, "How many of you if you had a child, and the child asked you for a fish, you would give them a snake"? All the sudden this turns into a horror story. Steven King. "Or your son asks you for an egg, and you give him a scorpion"? What kind of father, what kind of parent would do that? And Jesus said, "Don't you know that if a sinful father would give good things to his children, that a loving and heavenly Father delights to give good things to His children? He will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask".

The Holy Spirit is linked to prayer in the Bible. He's called the Spirit of supplication. He's our prayer partner. He prays with us in that we cry out Abba Father. He gives us words to pray and words to say when we are so broken we don't know what to say or how to pray. So when we pray, God gives us the Holy Spirit. We pray to the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit. I always enjoyed giving things to our children. Still do! And I am a finite and erring and sinful father. And if I do that, if I desire to give good things to my kids, what do you think about a God, a Father who is neither finite... He's infinite... or sinful... He is perfect and holy. Don't you believe that God the Father would give good things to His children who ask and receive from Him?
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