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The Father’s Heart

May 15, 2022

The Father’s Heart

Passage: Luke 11:1-13
Service Type:

The Father’s Heart

Luke 11:1-13

Thank you Chris for reading that for us. If you have a copy of scripture with you, I’d love for you to open to Luke chapter 11. 

Back in chapter 1, we learned that Luke has carefully investigated the claims about Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. He has thoroughly interviewed eyewitnesses and other people who wrote about Jesus’ life and ministry to make sure he has only facts and nothing that is myth or legend. 

And one of the things Luke has been very careful to note and seems to really enjoy mentioning again and again is that between miracles, casting out demons, traveling and teaching, Jesus was often found praying. 

  • Luke 3:21 (baptism – as he was praying, heaven opened and the Spirit descended)
  • Luke 5:16 (he would often withdraw to desolate places and pray)
  • Luke 6:12 (went out to the mountain to pray and all night he continued in prayer to God)
  • Luke 9:18 (while he was praying in private and his disciples were with him…)
  • Luke 9:28 (took P,JandJ and went up on the mountain to pray) as he was praying (he was transfigured)
  • Luke 10:3 He sent the 72 disciples out saying they should pray. 

So these disciples have come back from their mission, and they have been watching his life, they’ve seen him praying, and they are starting to point the pieces together – oh, this guy’s life is born out of prayer. He has all this power and authority, he can heal, he can raise the dead, yet he prays constantly! There has to be a reason. Let’s ask him about it – oh, well, we can’t. Why? Because he’s praying. 

[1] He was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples." 

Lord, we want to pray like you. John taught his guys to pray – can you do that for us? What do we say? What do you ask for when you spend all that time in prayer? Are there certain words we can say that will really catch God’s ear? 

[2] He said to them, "Whenever you pray, say, Father,

Of all the things Jesus could tell you to call God. 

  1. He could have said, “You need to be very careful with how you address God. You must address him as Master, Lord. Your Most Highness.” Jesus could have said, He is God, you are not - make sure you address him that way. 
  2. He could have said, make sure you use a lot of great adjectives or solid doctrinal statements to make sure he knows you respect him. You’d have to say something like: “Oh, most glorious King of majesty, magnificent in splendor and beauty, sovereignly and infinitely resplendent in holiness and wisdom, eternally divine, Oh omniscient and omnipresent God who has revealed himself to be both transcendent and immanent – can you please help me remember where I left my keys?”
  3. Or he could have gone completely the other way and flung wide open the doors to be really informal with God. Growing up on the east coast, I remember going to the beach and seeing a shirt at the souvenir shop that said “Jesus is my homeboy.”

But “By instructing his disciples to address God as Father, Jesus places them (as they participate in prayer), into the same relationship with God that he has” (Just, 184). We are invited into an intimate, close, very personal relationship with the Holy One, a two-way relationship marked by care and nurturing, discipline and correction, obedience, faithfulness, comfort, protection, and future provision. 

We sort of take this for granted today. I would guess a lot of you begin your prayers by addressing God as Father. You might begin your prayer with, “Father God…” One time when I was leading worship I accidentally got those backward and I prayed to The Godfather.” Maybe The Godfather tshirts are next to the homeboy tshirts. 

But we take it for granted that we can call God our Father. But back then, the fact that Jesus addressed God as his close relative was charged as blasphemy. The religious elite of the day weren’t bothered by his miracles, unless he did them on the Sabbath. But what really got them absolutely white hot with rage was when he spoke of God as his Father, and they just had to find a way to kill him. 

So by saying to his disciples, “Hey, you can address God as your father too,” I’m guessing these disciples were a little shocked, maybe even taken aback, like yeah, I don’t know about that. I mean, sure maybe he’s your Father, but not ours. 

But just because we are invited to address God as Father doesn’t mean we are equals or that we should be flippant about this relationship. Jesus continues: 

  1. Your name be honored as holy
    1. In Exodus chapter 3, God revealed himself to Moses and instructed him to lead the people out of captivity in Egypt. Moses in his hesitation asked, “if the people ask me who sent me, what is his name, what should I say?” And God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell the Israelites that I AM has sent you; and secondly, say THE LORD, the God of your fathers… this is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.”
      1. Man, I don’t know how that hits you, but I AM WHO I AM. There is no box you can put God in. There is no weakness; no second-guessing; no regrets – I AM WHO I AM. We’re going to look at this a lot more in week 2 of our summer series, so that will be fun. 
    2. But the Hebrew language took the word for I AM and made it God’s name, which you’ll hear me say around here from time to time, the name Yahweh. That’s God’s personal name. “God” is not his name, it’s his title. Yahweh is our God. 
    3. In the 10 Commandments, Yahweh instructed Moses to tell the people, “do not take my name in vain.” So the Hebrew people stopped saying the name Yahweh altogether. They refused to let it come off of their lips because if you don’t say it, you can’t take it in vain, right? So when they were reading scripture in the synagogues or the Temple, and they came upon God’s name, they would say Jehovah instead. Most English bible translations have tried to preserve God’s personal name, so anytime you see the word “LORD” in your Bible, with all caps, it is pointing you back to this spot, to God’s personal name – Yahweh.
    4. But to pray that our Father’s name be honored as holy, we’re saying, Lord, cause me today and those around me to treat you as you really are:  “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the father’s sins on the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:6-7)… let what we and others think of you and speak about you and even the way we use the name “Yahweh,” or even your title “God” – let it be different than the way we use any other name. Let it mean more to us than any other name. Let me and the people around me live our lives for the honor of your name, that everything we do is anchored in your holiness more than anything else. And not just that your name be honored in the way it’s spoken…
  2. Your kingdom come …May the kingdom of God come here on earth as it is in heaven. A kingdom is a place where a king rules. It includes everything that he has authority over. The people, the geography – everything associated with that king. So to speak of the kingdom of God, is to say, Yahweh, may those things associated with your name - your purity, your holiness, your commitment to truth and righteousness and justice come here in our lives, in our communities, in our homes, in our marriages, in our parenting, in our singleness, in our schools, in our court systems, in our political structures – let your compassion, your graciousness, your slowness to anger, your forgiveness, your faithful love and truth come here in my life like it is where you are. 

And verse [3] Give us each day our daily bread. Graciously grant us whatever we need to make that happen today. This is in the same category as the verses, “don’t be anxious about tomorrow” and “his mercies are new every morning.” Give us what we need for each day, both physically and spiritually. Most of the reason we are anxious in our lives is because we are living out tomorrow’s troubles on today’s bread, today’s mercy, today’s help from God.  

And usually those sentences start with “what if”. Lets go on a trip: What if the car breaks down in the middle of the road? What if the plane goes down? Let the kids play outside: What if something happens to them and I’m not there? Let’s start a church: What if no one comes? What if I get cancer? What if I never get married? What if this job falls through? What if war comes to our soil? What if, what if, what if? When we live in those places, it makes us anxious and fearful. Why? Because God gives daily bread. He hasn’t given us the grace for things that haven’t happened yet. He will when the time comes, if the time comes. So Father, give us each day what we need for that day.

The emphasis is on trusting God. Trusting Yahweh that a) he knows what we need for today, b) that what he gives us is enough for today, and that c) he’ll show up on the doorstep with bread again tomorrow…new mercies and grace and provision for whatever is coming my way. 

And yet even as we say that, we have to confess we’ve not always sought your kingdom or your will. We have tried to wrestle control away from you to make sure tomorrow’s worries are taken care of today. We haven’t always wanted your name to be praised - quite honestly sometimes we would like a little praise to come our way once in a while, and we’ve often used the daily provisions you’ve given us without ever giving you a second thought or praying for guidance.

[4] [so] forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation." 

Jesus is inviting us into this relationship with his Heavenly Father, but as we’ve just said, he is holy. We don’t waltz in like we own the place. We come in humility and repentance. Father, Forgive us our sins. This isn’t just a model for individual prayer – Jesus includes corporate confession. You cannot address a holy God and not confess sin. But Jesus doesn't tell us to sew fig leaves and hide from God. He invites us to come as we are, bring your sin with you, bring it out into the light, out into the open, confess it. Admit it. And let it be forgiven. 

But Father, don’t forgive us more than we are willing to forgive others. Don’t allow us to give into the temptation that you will happily and easily forgive us even though we refuse to forgive others. Don’t allow us to give into the temptation that, because we’re calling you Father, that you let sin slide. Don’t allow us to give into the temptation that we’ve somehow earned this position with you, or that this is a transaction, where I say the right words, and you do whatever I want like a vending machine. Don’t allow the enemy to distract us and convince us of something about you that’s not true.

So here’s the model in Luke: Address God as if you’ve been invited into his family. You can be honest. You can be yourself. You don’t have to put on a show. But before we pray for what we want, pray for what he wants – that his name would be honored among all the nations of the earth; that his kingdom to rule the hearts of men and women and children, including our own. And ask that we would want that as much as he wants that. Then ask him to meet your physical needs, as well as your spiritual needs of forgiveness and protection from the evil one. 

Then, Jesus turns from telling us what to pray to showing us how to go about this. Verses 5-8 doesn’t translate super well for us English speakers, but Jesus is really asking a rhetorical question. His question in verse 5 really is…"Who among you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, [6] because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don't have anything to offer him.' [7] Then he will answer from inside and say, 'Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can't get up to give you anything.' 

That is the end of the rhetorical question. Who among you has a friend who will say “leave me alone, it’s not a good time” when you need something from them? No one! In this culture, hospitality is incredibly important, as is shame and honor. So this brother is outside the house, asking for daily bread (hello) and not a single person in that culture would say “go away, it’s not a good time.” No way. You would get up, even it meant waking the kids, because you didn’t want your friend to look dumb in front of his guests. 

I tell you, (v8) even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s shameless boldness, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 

Here’s Jesus’ point: If a man who is sound asleep in his house will get up in the middle of the night to help out his neighbor who is in need, how much more will your Heavenly Father eagerly, willingly give you what YOU need? If this kind of hospitality happens on an earthly level, HOW MUCH MORE does it happen on a heavenly level?

The Greek word translated “shameless boldness” there in verse 8 is not positive. Some translations want to make it positive, and say this man is persistent. You and I should be persistent in prayer. There is no indication that he is banging on the door constantly, annoying his friend into helping him. He’s not persistent. It’s not that positive. 

He is rude. Insensitive. Shameless. It’s completely normal and fine for a passing traveler to stop in the middle of the night, wake you up, and need a place to stay.  But it’s not okay for you to do that to your next door neighbor. This guy is asking for bread at midnight, and he doesn’t care how much inconvenience he is causing or if he wakes up the whole neighborhood. And Jesus is saying THAT’S how you come to God. Not like a jerk, but with that kind of shameless boldness, confident that on the other side of your prayer is a compassionate and gracious Father who is approachable and willing and eager and ready to hear and answer your prayers! 

[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. I mean, look at the urgency in that. It’s almost as if God is eagerly waiting to give you what you need; eager to have you just boldly come to him and ask! So I say to you ASK! So I say to you SEEK! KNOCK! Do it! I dare you to! I want you to! And when you ask, ask with the expectation that, like a friend who doesn't mind being inconvenienced, God is eager to respond to your prayer in the way that is absolutely best according to his name being honored and his kingdom coming. 

[10] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 

He even says EVERYONE gets to play! When you come to God in prayer like this, no one sits the bench the whole game. EVERYONE who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who knocks gets a welcome. Why is this true? Because…

[11] What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? [12] Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 

Notice the picture shifts from that of an inconvenienced friend at midnight back to that of a loving Father providing for his family. Imagine a loving dad sitting at the table for dinner with his family. His sons say “dad, pass the fish please?” Or they are sitting down for breakfast and the son says “please can I have more scrambled eggs?” The dad kind of smirks a little, reaches under the table where he has a poisonous snake in a basket, and says HA! Here’s your fish! HAHAHAHA! Oh man, that was so funny when you thought I was giving you more scrambled eggs, but instead it was a bowl full of scorpions! You should have seen your face when that snake bit you! Oh man, your face swelled up so much, oh man – we should probably get you to a hospital…

You’re sick, dude. That is unthinkable. 

Now I want you to take your copy of scripture on your lap and flip it over so you can’t see it. Okay. I’m going to put this next verse on the screen. Don’t cheat and look at your Bible. 

What father would throw scorpions at his kid who asked for food? Rhetorical question. No one. [13] If you then, who are evil, who are nowhere near the goodness and perfection of God, know how to give good gifts like food, clothing, shelter, education, instruction, discipline, mercy to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give ________________  to those who ask him?"

What would you want Jesus to put in that blank? Don’t look at your Bible. Just ask yourself. How would I want God to fill in that blank for me? If you who are sinful know how to give good things, helpful things, delightful things, sustaining things, desirable things to your children whom you love dearly, how much more, is the question. So what is the better, more desirable, more delightful, more sustaining, more useful gift that your Heavenly Father would give to those who ask him? 

What better gift is there for him to give than the gift of himself? 

If sinful parents know how to give good gifts, like food, clothing, education to their children, how much better, how much more desirable, how much more useful, how much more sustaining, how much more delightful is the greatest gift of all – the Holy Spirit, which is YAHWEH’S VERY PRESENCE IN YOU AND WITH YOU AND FOR YOU! The Holy Spirit not only gives comfort, guidance, wisdom, conviction - all of the daily bread we need to be obedient and faithful children of God, the Holy Spirit is the very presence of Jesus himself!! 

That’s why Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life!” Look at that – Jesus is both “I AM,” and our daily bread! In other words, Jesus isn’t saying we should come boldly and rudely to the throne of God asking for STUFF from God just to use for our own enjoyment, but we should come boldly to him, asking him to give us HIM! This is not so much “dad can you give me a new bike” this is more like “dad come out and play! Let’s go for a walk!” Father, I don’t want your stuff, I just want to be with you! 

Plenty of people will refuse it, for sure. Plenty of people will walk right past Jesus and say no thanks. Plenty of people will hang their heads and say, aw shoot. The fill in the blank is the Holy Spirit? Bummer. I was hoping it would be wealth or success or influence or a new house, car, job, a spouse. A better marriage, more obedient children, or just a free pass to be able to sin, or I was hoping for a bigger bonus this year than last year. The Holy Spirit? Eh. 

If that’s you, you’re on dangerous ground. In Luke 13, Jesus tells us that one day, once the house is full, the door will be shut. No matter how much you knock at that point, it’s too late. You’ll say, but I went to church! But I was on the praise team. But I was going to serve you one day, didn’t that count for something? Lord I loved you and I wanted to serve you but the baseball schedule made it really tough. My work schedule made it tough. I’m just not a morning person, but I wanted to! I believe in you! 

And the Lord will say, I don’t know who you are, because all you asked for was my stuff and you never asked for me. We never walked together through the hard things of life. We never sat and talked about life. I offered to be with you, in you, for you…and you refused. I’m sorry, but I don’t know you. 

Don’t let that be you. The invitation is wide open today to receive the greatest gift of all. If you’d like to receive that gift today, think it over during this closing song, then come find me afterward and I’d love to talk to you about it. 

And the best news I can give you today is that everyone who asks for him gets him. Everyone who seeks him finds him. Everyone who knocks on that door, will find a welcome from Jesus who is the friend of sinners. 

Let’s pray.  



Leadership Ministries Worldwide (LMW), The Gospel according to Luke, The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1996).

Darrell L. Bock, Luke: 9:51–24:53, vol. 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996)

Walter L. Liefeld, “Luke,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984)

Trent C. Butler, Luke, vol. 3, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000)

R.C. Sproul, A Walk with God: An Exposition of Luke (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1999)

Paul David Tripp, Do You Believe: 12 Historic Doctrines to Change Your Everyday Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021)

Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005)