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Patient Prayer Introduction

Making wise decisions is one of the most important things in life. The decisions you make in life determine the course of your life and your eternal destiny. In our message series Need Direction? we’ve been looking at how to get God’s direction in making decisions. Several weeks ago, we look at the importance of God’s Word to give us principles on which to base our decisions. Last week, we looked at the need for good counsel from other godly people at input for our decisions.

This week, we’re going to be looking at how to get guidance from God Himself, in our message entitled “Patient Prayer.” Patient prayer brings supernatural guidance into our lives. You see, even if you had all the data of everything that has happened in the past, you still couldn’t make wise decisions without taking the future into account. God, however, knows the future. God understands and moves in the spiritual realm that we cannot see with our physical eyes. Patient prayer opens up the unseen spiritual realm to us as we seek guidance from God.

I really like this video because it illustrates visually how many people go through life. They think they see everything clearly, but in reality they are seeing only blurred images. Without patient prayer, we cannot see into the supernatural dimension. Without patient prayer, our decisions will not take into account what will happen in the future. Without patient prayer, we are really just stumbling in the darkness, not knowing which direction to go or what decision to make. With patient prayer, we gain wisdom and insight from the God who created everything, the God who holds everything in His hand and the God who knows the future.

Have you ever said something like, If I had only know that was going to happen, I wouldn’t have made that decision? Most believers know they should seek God’s wisdom about decisions, but many don’t. Some think that some decisions aren’t important enough to bother God with. Others can’t find the time to pray and seek God for direction. Yet others aren’t sure that God will answer their prayers or don’t even know what to ask. God wants to give you direction in life through patient prayer. Today, we’re going to learn how to receive that direction.

James 1:5-6a (NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt …

If you lack wisdom in making a decision, any decision, God’s Word commands us to ask God for that wisdom with patient prayer. If you believe that God will give you the wisdom, then you will receive your answer. Today, in our message, “Patient Prayer”, we’re going to learn how to better connect with God through prayer to receive the direction He desires to give us. We’re going to be looking at some of the teaching of Jesus on patient prayer in Luke 11.

1. Follow Jesus’ example

Luke 11:1 (NIV) 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.”

As we read through the Gospels, we find it recorded that Jesus regularly prayed. As Jesus was fully God, as well as fully man, it is amazing that Jesus prayed so much. Why did Jesus pray? He prayed for many of the same reasons that we are to pray. Jesus prayed to communicate with His Father. Jesus prayed to request from His Father. Jesus prayed to provide an example for you and I to patiently pray, just as He did. Jesus was very busy in life, people were constantly clamoring for His attention. Yet, he always found time to pray, often early in the morning, sometimes through the night.

Jesus’ disciples saw His prayer life and asked for Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus taught His disciples to pray and He can train us in patient prayer. The Lord’s Prayer has been memorized by millions, yet this example prayer is not really understood, so we’re going to review it this morning as a foundation for patient prayer.

Pray for God’s kingdom

Luke 11:2 (NIV)  He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

Jesus’ example prayer does not begin with our needs, it begins with honoring the God, the Father and praising Him. It next requests that the kingdom of God come. This is not just a request for the kingdom to come in fullness at the end of history, but a request for the kingdom to come now, in our lives and communities. When the kingdom comes, God’s will is done on this earth, as it is in heaven. We need direction and guidance in life, so that we can participate in God’s kingdom coming.

Pray for your needs

Luke 11:3 (NIV)  Give us each day our daily bread.

Next, Jesus instructs us to pray for our daily needs. This morning, we going to concentrate on our need for direction and guidance in our lives. We need God’s direction and guidance every day of our lives. Whether we have a big decision coming up or life is just going along, we need God’s wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we won’t fulfill His plan for our days and ultimately for our lives. Next …

Pray for forgiveness

Luke 11:4 (NIV) Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'”

When we don’t receive God’s guidance, when we go our own way without consulting Him, we sin. So, we must ask for forgiveness, knowing that God’s forgiveness of us is conditional on our forgiveness of others. Finally, Jesus instructs us to pray for protection from temptation, so that we do not fall into the same sin again. When we fail to ask God for wisdom and we make a wrong decision, it is sin. We need to ask for God’s forgiveness. So, the Lord’s prayer gives us an example prayer for praying for guidance in our lives.

Jesus’ example shows that our prayer life should be a way of life. Suppose you want to run a race, say a half-marathon, which is 13 miles. You can’t just wait until a week before the race and start training. You won’t be up to the challenge. If you’ve been regularly running, 15-20 miles a week, than you can get ready for that half-marathon in 3-4 months of extra training. You’ve got to be regularly training, in order to succeed in the half-marathon. In the same way, if you wait until a crisis comes to start praying, you won’t have much success. However, as prayer for guidance becomes a way of life, prayed daily as Jesus instructed, then you’ll be ready for prayer challenges. Those are the times when you’ve got to have wisdom from God or disaster may come. Follow Jesus’ example of patient prayer as a daily way of life.

Jesus goes on to tell a story to illustrate how we ought to pray patiently and …

2. Ask for God’s direction

Luke 11:5-6 (NIV) Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

So here’s what is going on here with 3 friends. Friend 1 had an unexpected guest, Friend 2, who came to visit him late at night. Normally, bread was baked in the morning, so Friend 1 had nothing to feed his guest, Friend 2, with. Not only was Friend 2 famished after the journey, but not to feed a guest was considered very bad manners in those days. So, Friend 1 goes to Friend 3 who lives nearby and asks him to lend him some bread. Notice that Friend 1 goes to Friend 3 at midnight, not exactly a good time to wake someone and ask for a favor. What happens?

Don’t be surprised at a delayed answer

Luke 11:7 (NIV) “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’

Everyone is down for the night, door is locked, children are sleeping, Friend 3 is not inclined to get up, he just wants Friend 1 to go away. They are friends, but Friend 1 is asking Friend 3 too much, so Friend 3 thinks. The end result is that the answer to Friend 1’s request is delayed. Does Friend 1 give up and go home? No …

Persist in patient prayer with boldness

Luke 11:8 (NIV) I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

Friend 1 keeps on knocking at the door of Friend 3 until finally, Friend 3 decides that he isn’t going to get any sleep anyhow, so he gets up and gives Friend 1 the bread he is asking for. Remember this is Jesus’ illustration about patient prayer. In the Lord’s prayer, we ask our heavenly Father for our daily bread. In Jesus’ story, Friend 1 was asking Friend 3 for a need of daily bread. Friend 3 is meant to make us think of God, our Father, whom we ask for daily bread. If Friend 3 would eventually get up and give the bread, how much more will our Father in heaven give us our needs if we persist and pray patiently till the answer comes. Why does God often delay the answer to our prayers for direction? We don’t always know why. However, God’s delays build our faith and show who is truly dependent on Him.

What happens when we ask God for direction and we get no answer? We really have two options. The first is to give up on prayer and make our own decision without God’s input. The second option is to keep on with patient prayer until God gives us the wisdom we have asked for.

In the OT, God promised Abraham that he would have son. However, the answer was delayed for many years and Abraham and his wife Sarah were getting old. So, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands and Abraham got himself a son from Sarah’s servant Hagar. The son was Ishmael, from whom the modern Arabs and the prophet Muhammad of Islam came. Taking matters into your own hands does not lead to good things. Ultimately, Abraham believed God and continued with patient prayer until the son of promise, Isaac was born in his old age.

If you’re praying for wisdom and the answer doesn’t immediately come. Don’t take things into your own hands. Wait on God and His wisdom, for it will certainly come, if you …

3. Believe God’s promises

Luke 11:9-10 (NIV) “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. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

These verses are promises regarding patient prayer, here referred to as asking, seeking and knocking. Earlier in the year, I taught on these types of patient prayer as being levels of increasing intensity in prayer. What we want to emphasize today is that the person who believes God’s promises will keep on asking, seeking and if necessary, knocking on the door at midnight until the answer comes.

God gives good gifts

Luke 11:11-13a (NIV) “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, …

Some people are afraid to ask God for anything because they are afraid of His response. This is particularly true with respect to asking for guidance. Maybe God will tell me to do something I don’t want to do, so I’d better not ask. Jesus here teaches that even earthly father give good gifts to their children when they ask. How much more will our heavenly Father give good gifts to His children who ask. We forfeit many good gifts and directions that God has for us by neglecting to ask Him or by giving up before the answer comes. Jesus ends His teaching on patient prayer with a zinger of an ending that is either missed or ignored by many believers and churches.

God gives the Holy Spirit for direction

Luke 11:13b (NIV) … how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In the Lord’s prayer and in the story of the friend at midnight, Jesus spoke of asking for bread, referring to our needs.Here, at the end of His teaching on patient prayer, Jesus gives the example of asking for the Father to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. In fact, although not worded directly as a command, the implication is that asking for the Holy Spirit is one the best gifts that we could ask for.

Of course, many ignore this verse and other passages and teach that believers receive all the Holy Spirit they will ever get at salvation. That is not what the Bible teaches and is not what Jesus is teaching. We are to ask for more of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are to continually ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who can give us direction and guidance to carry out the will of God. The Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as our Counselor or Guide as we grow in patient prayer. Next week, we’ll be talking more about learning to hear the Spirit’s voice.

A long time ago, when you went on a trip, you had to rely on paper maps to get directions. As you travelled, you got new maps to keep you on track. If you were traveling and couldn’t get a map, you were in trouble. Sometimes, I remember I had a map, but I had no idea where I was, so the map wasn’t much help. Today, we have GPS in our vehicles or on our phones. It tells us where we are and what route we have to take to get to our destination. It’s a major improvement over paper maps, right?

Sometimes, we think of God like an external map that we ask for directions from. However, the Holy Spirit is like an internal GPS. The Holy Spirit knows where you are at and where you should be going. You can train yourself to hear the Holy Spirit inside of you giving directions. Turn left, turn right, don’t go here, go there. When you listen to the Spirit in patient prayer, you’ll get to God’s destination for you every time. Believe God’s promises and rely on His Spirit in patient prayer.

Conclusion

Patient prayer is simply communication with God, two-way communication in which we speak to God and He speaks back to us. Jesus prayed continually and we need to follow His example of daily patient prayer. When we ask God for direction, sometimes the answer will be delayed. Don’t give up, but persist in patient prayer until the answer comes. God knows when you need the answer and He will make sure that it comes on time, He’s never late. Believe God’s promises, if you ask for wisdom and don’t doubt, it will come. God has good gifts for you and His best gift is the Holy Spirit. Rely on the Holy Spirit as your Counselor and Guide and you’ll get to your destination every time.

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Need Direction? Message Series

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