in the school of prayer - lesson eight

 

 

Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.

 

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.  Lk 11:5-8

I have to say I didn't see this chapter coming.  I've read this verse many times and never connected it to intercession or love for the friend.  I always sat there and puzzled about the audacity (or importunity, as Dr. Murray calls it) of the asking, thinking that such rudeness is quite out of my comfort zone and I don't really understand what Jesus is getting at here.

But Dr. Murray sees this a different way:

The parable is a perfect storehouse of instruction in regard to true intercession.  There is, first, the love which seeks to help the needy around us:  ‘my friend is come to me.’  Then the need which urges to the cry  ‘I have nothing to set before him.’  Then follows the confidence that help is to be had:  ‘which of you shall have a friend, and say, Friend, lend me three loaves.’  Then comes the unexpected refusal:  ‘I cannot rise and give thee.’  Then again the perseverance that takes no refusal:  ‘because of his importunity.’  And lastly, the reward of such prayer:  ‘he will give him as many as he needeth.’  A wonderful setting forth of the way of prayer and faith in which the blessing of God has so often been sought and found.

We have been praying and learning about the Fatherhood of God for weeks, and now Dr. Murray is leading us to see God as Friend.   The difference he says, is that while we may logically expect a Father to be a ready resource for our petitions (almost as though a Father is obligated to give us what we ask) now we learn that Jesus wants us to approach Him as a friend would: "more nearly on a level."  Friendship implies that we have been welcomed into a relationship of some equality - a staggering act of grace almost impossible to comprehend.

But here we find an important truth:  a child will be forever loved and accepted because of his place in the family, but "friendship depends upon the conduct."  Jesus told us we would be His friends if we obeyed Him.  The man who knocks on the door with such fearlessness must truly be a friend.

It is worthwhile to stop and examine our relationship to our Lord.  Am I resting in His love as my Father?  Am I a faithful friend to Christ?  Because almost immediately we learn that these relationships are going to be tested:

The God who has promised, who longs, whose fixed purpose it is to give the blessing, holds it back.  It is to Him a matter of such deep importance that His friends on earth should know and fully trust their rich Friend in heaven, that He trains them, in the school of answer delayed, to find out how their perseverance really does prevail, and what the mighty power is they can wield in heaven, if they do but set themselves to it. [...]

Let each child of God who is seeking to work the work of love in his Father’s service take courage.  The parent with his child, the teacher with his class, the visitor with his district, the Bible reader with his circle, the preacher with his hearers, each one who, in his little circle, has accepted and is bearing the burden of hungry, perishing souls,—let them all take courage.  Nothing is at first so strange to us as that God should really require persevering prayer, that there should be a real spiritual needs-be for importunity. [...]

This is strange indeed.  Many times we find it difficult to accept this humbling of ourselves and waiting, asking repeatedly.   It takes trusting friendship with our Lord to understand that this waiting and persevering, as all things, is for our good:

O let us thank Him that in delaying His answer He is educating us up to our true position and the exercise of all our power with Him, training us to live with Him in the fellowship of undoubting faith and trust, to be indeed the friends of God.  And let us hold fast the threefold cord that cannot be broken:  the hungry friend needing the help, and the praying friend seeking the help, and the Mighty Friend, loving to give as much as he needeth.

This week, let's slow down and examine our relationship with Christ.  Are we truly living as His friend, doing what He commands?    Then may we have courage to go boldly to His door and knock, seeking help for others.

If you are discouraged by long, persistent asking over a situation perhaps I might join you in prayer?  Leave a comment - as simple as a name that you'd like brought before the Lord - and I will knock with you today.

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Dear Lord,

We come to You today longing to be Your friends.  With the psalmist we ask, will You search us and know our hearts, try us and see if there is any wicked way in us?   We want to walk in true fellowship with You, trusting You and believing You.

There are many of us who have grown weary in prayer.  We have knocked and asked and the answer has been so long in coming that we have nearly given up asking.  Lord, will You come today and minister hope and encouragement?  Give us strength for the hard work of prayer.  Give us hope to trust in Your good friendship.  Give us faith to believe that You will answer and move on our behalf.  

I pray for a new excitement and a new faith to be built into the hearts of every weary intercessor this week.  Lord, make us audacious!  Give us a whole new vision and purpose. 

Thank You for meeting us here each week.  Thank You for taking us into Your school and patiently instructing us in the way we should go.   Make us mature, faithful believers.  Make us trustworthy, hearty pray-ers for Your kingdom.

Thank You dearest Lord.

In Your name we pray,

amen.

 

 

 

Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts on Chapter Nine - "Pray the Lord of the Harvest" or Prayer Provides Labourers