Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE PARABLE OF FRIENDS AT MIDNIGHT”

Luke 11.5-10

Turn in your Bible to Luke chapter 11. This chapter is 54 verses long, though we will only read the first 13 verses. However, of those 13 verses that we will read in just a moment, only the six verses, which comprise the parable that Jesus taught, will be our text for this morning. Before we read, be mindful of three parts of the passage we are about to read: The first four verses provide the pretext for the parable, Luke’s brief version of what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, taught to His disciples when they were so impressed with His prayer life that they asked Him to teach them to pray. Following His example prayer for them to use as a sort of template for their own prayers, my Lord Jesus Christ taught His men a parable, which will be the focus of our attention this morning. He then makes application of that parable to the prayers that are offered up to your heavenly Father.

Read Luke 11.1-13 with me:

 

1      And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

2      And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3      Give us day by day our daily bread.

4      And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

5      And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6      For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

7      And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

8      I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

9      And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10     For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

11     If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

12     Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13     If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

 

In prayer, as in every other phase of His ministry, Jesus taught His disciples by example as well as by instruction. As I mentioned a moment ago, it was the Lord’s praying that led to “The Lord’s Prayer.” As His disciples heard Him praying they then asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Complying with their request, He gave them that wonderful model-prayer “which serves at once as the first lesson for babes beginning, and the fullest exercise of strong men’s powers.”[1] Next, comes the parable. There are three friends in this parable. There is a friend who has a friend in need, and then there is the friend he goes to for bread to borrow for his needy friend. Of course, the Lord Jesus is the unnamed Fourth Friend, the One who does not need to plead with another to meet his friend’s need, because He is more than capable and willing to meet every need.

For now, let us consider the three friends referred to in his parable:

 

First, THERE IS THE VISITING FRIEND

 

This poor traveler, continuing his journey in the cool of the evening after a day spent in the fierce heat, has at long last come upon his friend’s house, where he knew food and shelter would be offered to him after so long and tiring a day. After many hours of travel, he arrives around midnight, exhausted, thirsty, and hungry. Knocking on his friend’s door, he anticipates the hospitality that anyone in the Middle East would expect from a friend. “To every true Jew the law of hospitality is sacred, sees nothing for it but to go, late as it is, to the house of a friend.”[2]

 

Next, THERE IS THE IMPORTUNATE FRIEND

 

With the late and unexpected arrival of his traveling friend, this second friend realizes that he has a difficulty to overcome. After his household had satisfied their requirements for the day and went to bed, there was no bread left over. As was typical, more bread would be baked in the morning for the needs of the next day. However, it was an unacceptable breach of etiquette for an oriental to have no food for a visitor. Therefore, despite the late hour, the host went to his other friend’s house to borrow three loaves. That would be enough to feed his the hungry guest. Such was the nature of our Lord’s parables that everyone in His audience of listeners would have identified with such a situation, either as a hungry traveler, as an unprepared host, or as a neighbor woken late at night to lend some food.

 

Finally, THE UNWILLING FRIEND

 

Who wants to get up in the middle of the night to get food for some hungry fellow you do not even know? Why cannot this fellow be more prepared, so he does not have to wake me up, or so he does not have to rely on his host to wake me up? He is obviously not at all pleased at being disturbed at so late an hour, so he politely refuses the request. “My wife and kids are in bed asleep, I had a long day, and I am really tired. Leave me alone.”

Why can’t this guy do without some food for a few more hours, rather than wake my wife and me up, and risk making the kids cry by waking them up? What will a few more hours without food harm him? It is not as if he is going to die or anything. Besides, the locks on doors in those days were very bulky and difficult to unlock once they had been set. However, once he realizes that his friend’s sense of obligation to be hospitable will keep him yelling and pounding on the door to get food for his hungry friend, and knowing that the yelling and pounding on the door is more likely to wake the kids up and ruin his whole night’s sleep than getting him three loaves of bread, for no other reason than to shut the guy up and stop the pounding on the door he gets up and gives his friend what he wants.

Surely Jesus’ eyes twinkled as He said, in verse 8, “I say unto you, though he will not rise and give unto him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will arise and give him as many as he needeth.”

A. T. Robertson claims that this is the only place in the New Testament where this Greek word referring to shamelessness occurs, and is from the Latin importunas, meaning troublesome or impudence.[3] Herbert Lockyer cites Goebel as using the word impudence for “importunity” and says: “By the natural conduct of the petitioner the intentionally strong expression signalizes the element which ensures his final success — the importunity that knows no shame; for this importunity must in the course of time become more irksome to the petitioned than the slight trouble of rising up. And having once risen, he gave without stint, as much as was needed for only thus will he be quickly rid of his importunity.”[4] Arnot comments that the term translated “importunity,” signifies freedom from the bashfulness which cannot ask a second time.[5]

Ever notice how much more bold at the grocery checkout stand women typically are than men? Women will ask questions, insist on clarifications, make sure that charges are rung up correctly, and check their receipts as they are walking away, while men typically just let things slide because they are reluctant to make an issue out of anything. That is the attitude encouraged by this parable, as it applies to your prayer life.

Keep in mind that what we must guard ourselves against is reading into the parable more than Jesus intended. The friend who was aroused had to be badgered into lending the necessary bread. However, God requires no attempt to force Him into giving, and He is never reluctant to give to us what is good for us. If He desires that we persist in prayer it is not owing to His lack of desire to give to us, or to any shortage of generosity. Remember the great prayer warriors of the Bible and how they persisted in prayer.

As daybreak approached in his wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob was told, “Let me go.” However, he responded, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”[6] That is the kind of praying our Lord Jesus Christ instructs you to offer up to God.

 

SERMON:

 

It has been said many times that the converts of the Great Awakening chose believer’s baptism in great numbers due to their study and fidelity to the Bible, but there has been little discussion of divinely used human instruments in this work. May we then focus for a moment on a little lady named Rachel Thurber Scammon?

Rachel married a Massachusetts man in 1720 and settled with him on the Piscataqua River. She was a baptized believer, coming from Rehoboth. For 40 years, she tried to convert others to Christ and to convince the saved of the scriptural truth of believer’s baptism. In that 40 years she gained one convert. However, she would often voice her belief and prayer that one day God would raise up a church of Christian Baptists in Stratham.

Somewhere along the timeline of her life, she happened upon a copy of the book Plain Discourse upon Baptism by Norcott. She had a burning desire to reprint the book, reasoning that if other people could read it they would turn to Christ; and the saved would follow Him in believer’s baptism. She went to a printer in Boston to invest in the printing of it and behold, when she inquired she found the printer already had 110 copies of that very book!

Wasting no time, Mrs. Scammon purchased all of them and began to distribute them. They were scattered strategically by the Holy Ghost throughout Massachusetts. Then, Rachel Thurber Scammon died.

But a young physician named Samuel Shepard made a house call in Stratham. While there, he saw a book, Plain Discourse upon Baptism by Norcott. After reading it he became convinced that infant baptism was invalid and that believer’s baptism was indeed Bible baptism. He did not know any Baptist people but he began to discuss the book with any who would care to listen and in so doing created a stir among the people of the Stratham, Brentwood and Nottingham areas. The distribution of the book also stirred the spirit of Eliphaleth Smith, who was the standing order minister of the Deerfield Congregational parish. Eliphaleth came under conviction as he preached on the need to follow Christ and believe, and be baptized.

In due time, Elder Hezekiah Smith, famed pastor of the Baptist church in Haverhill was called to Deerfield and in a monumental act of courage, the Congregational preacher Eliphaleth Smith and thirteen members of the Deerfield parish were buried in believer’s baptism. Within the week, 24 more were immersed.

Among those baptized was Dr. Samuel Shepard, whom God called to the gospel ministry. The good doctor was ordained September 25, 1771, as pastor of the Baptist church at Stratham in answer to Rachel Thurber Scammon’s 40 year prayer.[7]

Rachel Scammon was an importunate prayer, and though she died before her prayer was answered, her prayer was answered. Abraham was an importunate prayer when he pleaded with God in Genesis chapter 18. Again and again he asked God to spare Sodom, if there could be found 50 righteous within the city, then 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally if there could be found 10 righteous within the city. Was Abraham ashamed of pleading with God? No. Did he get embarrassed? No. He persisted, just as his grandson, Jacob, would persist when wrestling with the Angel of the Lord at Peniel, the result of which was his conversion.

Beloved, what does this parable taught by the Savior set before us? Shameless, unembarrassed, persistent, doggedly determined, prayer. Three points for your consideration:

 

First, WHAT TO DO?

 

Pray, always pray.

In Luke 18.1, before teaching a parable very similar to the one before us, we read, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Never stop praying for what you think God wants from you, and for what you think God wants for you. To those young Christians in Thessalonica, Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.”[8]

But, what is prayer? Prayer is asking.

 

Matthew 7.7: “Ask, and it shall be given you”

Matthew 7.8: “For every one that asketh receiveth”

John 16.24: “ask, and ye shall receive”

James 4.2: “ye have not, because ye ask not.”

Matthew 7.11: “how much more shall your Father . . . give good things to them that ask him?”

Matthew 21.22: “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

John 14.14: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

 

Keep in mind, however, that prayer is asking God. If you are not asking God, you are not praying. Prayer is always and can only be asking God.

 

Second, WHEN TO DO

 

I do not refer, at this point, to praying without ceasing. That is a given. That was prayer lesson #1 for the brand new Christians in Thessalonica. What I refer to now is when in the course of your life should you pray without ceasing, persistently, doggedly, unceasingly?

There are two phases in your life when you should resort to importunate, shameless, unembarrassed, pleading for what you want, for what you need, and for what God wants you to have:

First, when you are unconverted, since you desperately need your sins forgiven. Not much time on this because those who eventually are converted seem in my experience to already do this. Just keep in mind that Jacob was a lost man when he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, the preincarnate Christ, and what brevity there was in his praying was more than made up for by the intensity and determination of his strivings. If ever there is a time when someone needs to shamelessly and humbly plead with God it is when he is lost, when he must subject himself to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit of God, and when his most urgent desire is that the Father will draw him to His Son, Jesus Christ. Sit back and wait for God to jolt you, relax and leave it up to God to stir your conscience, comfortably consider and ponder the truths of the Bible while waiting for an angel to stir the water in the Pool of Bethesda, and you will remain in your sins.

You have to pray, man, or you will die in your sins!

Next, you need to consistently and persistently pray throughout your Christian life. You need to pray for your daily bread. You need to pray for grace in the morning to take on the day. You need to pray, as Paul mentioned in Ephesians chapter 1, that God would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened, that you would comprehend what is the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance. Have you no sins? Are there no shortcomings? Do you recognize any personal inadequacies? These should be constant matters of prayer. Are there no loved ones in precarious situations? Do you not have lost friends who need the Savior? Know you no acquaintances that are being overcome with temptation or making great fools of themselves to their own destruction? How can you so greatly sin by not praying for yourself, and for others? Remember what Samuel said, in First Samuel 12.23: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.”

 

Finally, WHY PRAY?

 

Why should you pray?

First, pray because you have been commanded to pray. In Matthew 6.9, Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye.” Clearly, the Savior’s desire is for His people to pray, as the Apostle Paul made clear to the young Christians in Thessalonica, when he directed them to “Pray without ceasing.”

Second, pray because it glorifies God. Consider the passage we read at the outset. If your earthly father, even though he is sinful, knows how to give good gifts to his children, how much more your heavenly Father? You do insult God when you fail to ask Him for provisions and needs.

Third, pray because it is good for you. James 1.17 tells us “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” How beneficial, then, for you to ask for those things He will not give you without praying for them?

Fourth, pray because it is good for others. Keep in mind that the parable about the importunate prayer tells of one who is pleading for the benefit of his friend. He obtains bread from one friend to give to his needy friend. Surely, you can see the benefit to answered prayers for those you pray for. Why else would Samuel see the holy obligation to continue praying for his people?

Fifth, pray because, as I have alluded to before, there are certain things that can only be obtained by repeatedly, persistently, shamelessly, asking God for them. James wrote, “ye have not, because ye ask not.”

 

You may be here saved, or you may be here lost. Whatever your spiritual condition, if you want to get to heaven someday, and see your friends and loved ones there with you, you simply have to be a prayer warrior who bombards the throne of grace with petitions and requests that only God can respond to.

As well, whatever you have convinced yourself, if you do not pray, pray consistently, pray persistently, pray frequently, and attempt to pray persuasively, you have a serious spiritual problem.

If you are lost and you are not an importunate prayer, it is very likely you will remain lost. If you are saved, and you do not have a prayer life that is growing broader, deeper, and longer, it may very well be that you are not a Christian at all. You are certainly not much of a Christian if you are not a prayer warrior.

We are living in the apostasy. We find it very difficult to bring sinners to Christ. We find it very easy for church kids and loved ones to shine us on and pretend to be Christians until they face some personal crisis or temptation that exposes them as the lost people they have been all along.

Our solution? The solution given to us is not new, requires faith, and is frankly hard work. It is called prayer, and it is asking God for things (not stuff, so much as answers, conversions, and blessings).

My lost friend, seek the Lord while He may be found. Pray to God, and plead with God, shamelessly begging for mercy and saving grace to come to Christ.

My Christian friend, what an astounding privilege we have to approach the throne of grace. When you are praying your heart and mind are at the feet of our great God and Savior. Therefore, why not return to that blessed place of heavenly privilege again and again and again?



[1] Quoted in Herbert Lockyer, All The Parables Of The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), page 264.

[2] Quoted in Herbert Lockyer, All The Parables Of The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), page 265.

[3] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol II, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1930), pages 159-160.

[4] Quoted in Herbert Lockyer, All The Parables Of The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), page 266.

[5] Quoted in Herbert Lockyer, All The Parables Of The Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963), page 266.

[6] Genesis 32.26

[7] James R. Beller, America In Crimson Red, (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pages 218-219.

[8] 1 Thessalonians 5.17

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org