The Neighbor at Midnight – Sermon

The Neighbor at Midnight – Sermon

Below are notes from The Neighbor at Midnight sermon from January 17,2010. To listen to this sermon click this link

Luke 11:1-13

The Neighbor at Midnight

FCF: We have a tendency to give up in prayer because we think God is withholding or evil.

Telos: Jesus teaches us to pray.


  • Series Intro: Parables of Jesus in Luke’s travel narrative
    • Jesus traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem
    • Walking and talking with Jesus, hearing his conversations.
    • This Week’s intro:
      • Prayer is something we all have done at some point.
      • For Christians we know that we should pray.
      • Reading the Scriptures may come easy but relating to God in prayer is not necessarily. Why?
      • In this parable, Jesus not only teaches us how to pray but also reveals the subtle attitudes that keep us from praying.
      • Jesus is praying in a certain place and a disciple asks “”Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1 NIV)


  1. Keep Prayer Simple (11:1-4)

A. The Requests are simple

  1. Start by giving honor to God’s Name.
    1. Eze 36:23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.
    2. This God to be honored is your Father.
    3. Prayer is not just a laundry list.
    4. Ask for God’s reign to come (the answer to life’s problems).
    5. Ask for today’s necessities.
      1. Greek reads: Our bread, the daily kind, keep on giving us today.
      2. Not a lifelong supply.
      3. Matthew 6:34 Don’t worry about tomorrow. Focus on today!
      4. Ask for forgiveness of your sins and commit to it for others.
        1. Psa 130:3-4 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
      5. Ask God to keep you from temptation and guide you from it.
        1. 1Co 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

B. The Length of your prayers

  1. The Lord’s Prayer is 38 words and takes 22 seconds slowly
  2. You are not heard because of constant babbling.
    1. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Mat 6:7-8 NIV)
    2. Does not mean we quickly repeat words and then are done.
      1. My personal experience: Guilty over preacher who accused students of never having a ‘Sweet Hour of Prayer.’
        1. Felt guilty.
        2. When I tried to pray lengthy prayers I fell asleep.
        3. Could never make it heartfelt enough.
        4. Do we avoid prayer because we don’t have the time? Or think that God only hears lengthy prayers?
          1. Recently moved to short deliberate times.
            1. Refreshing, consistent, working.

Develop the Habit of Trust (11:5-10)

A. Trust means expecting a God of Honor (11:5-8)

  1. Jesus erects 2 scenarios: what will NOT happen & what will.
    1. What will NOT happen:
      1. Imagine if…One of you has a sleeping friend next door and you go and say “I have a visitor and no bread.”
      2. The sleeper responds “Don’t bother me, the door is locked and my children are sleeping.”
      3. Cultural barriers to understanding this parable:
        1. In our culture the rejection seems reasonable.
        2. In ancient middle eastern culture the scenario would be laughable.
          1. Guests were community guests not just individual guests.
          2. The whole community pitched in to feed. (whoever had bread from the day).
          3. Not providing bread would have shamed everyone, including the sleeper with excuses.
          4. Children were not held in esteem.
          5. The question expects an emphatic NO!

“Can you imagine having a guest and going to a neighbor to borrow bread and the neighbor offers ridiculous excuses about a locked door and sleeping children? The Middle Eastern listener responds, “No, I cannot imagine such a thing!” –Kenneth Bailey

  1. What will happen:
    1. Though he won’t get up because he is his friend, he will because…
    2. KEY word: (Luk 11:8)
      1. Only usage in Bible
      2. Translations: NIV: man’s boldness, NAS; persistence; KJV: importunity; ESV: impudence;
      3. Greek: shamelessness or shameless persistence
      4. Clearly the context of shame is in view.
      5. NOTICE no knocking on the door, he calls out-knocking is probably a spillover from next verses.
        1. Neighbors call, strangers knock
        2. Is the friend who called being shameless? NO
        3. OR is the sleeping neighbor shameless, that is preserving his honor?
          1. In an honor based culture his theoretical excuses would have brought shame on the community and himself.
          2. SO, to preserve his honor, to be without shame, he will give him everything needed.
      6. The Point: When we go to God, He is a God of honor who will gladly meet our needs. He does not make silly excuses.
        1. God is honorable: honest, fair, integrity, good Name, reputation.
        2. Glory and honor are used interchangeably.
          1. Psalm 4:2 “How long will you turn my honor/glory into shame?”
        3. We can trust that when we go to God in prayer, He is a God of honor. He will not offer silly excuses but is reliable, a God of integrity.

B. Trust means Asking (11:9-10)

  1. Persistence is ok though: see Luke 18 and the persistent widow.
    1. Keep on asking: you’ll receive
    2. Keep on seeking: you’ll find
    3. Keep on knocking: the door will be opened
    4. Everyone who asks receives.
      1. Asking, seeking, knocking could be beggar’s language.
      2. The ‘everyone’ would have offended the religious elite.
      3. Trust is about asking and acknowledging our neediness.
        1. If everyone is received who comes to God, why wait?
        2. Why do you not pray if God promises to answer?

3. Reorient Your Expectations (11:11-13)

A. Expect to find a good and loving Father

  1. Come as little children
  2. Evil fathers give good gifts…how much more the Father?
  3. When you go to God, what kind of Father do you expect?
  4. Has a bad human father colored your expectations of God?

B. Expect to receive the Holy Spirit

  1. The good gift the Father gives: the Holy Spirit.
  2. BUT we want a change of circumstances, but that is not what God promises.
  3. He promises Himself.
  4. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter.
    1. He is with us always.
    2. He intercedes and prays for us.
    3. He makes us like Christ which means sometimes leaving us in our suffering.


  • Keep prayer simple, develop a habit of trust, reorient your expectations.
  • Why do we not pray? No time? OR does it reveal that we are Self-reliant saviors of ourselves, we look to other saviors, or we have given up hope?
  • In this parable, Jesus gently shows us the heart of His loving Father that He knew so well.
  • You are a child of Jesus’ Father and He loves you and welcomes you.
  • Jesus pleads with us saying “Go to the Father. I know Him.”
  • How could Jesus know that His Father was a God of honor, a good Father?
    • Because Jesus knew why He was on His mission.
    • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son.
    • Why can we trust God to pray? Look at Jesus, the Gift of the Father.
    • There is no other logical response than to go to this loving Father who sacrificed His only Son for you, so go to Him simply, trusting, expecting that He will give you what you need.

“When you go to this kind of a neighbor everything is against you. It is night. He is asleep in bed. The door is locked. His children are asleep. He does not like you and yet you wil receive even more than you ask. This is because your neighbor is a man of integrity and he will not violate that quality. The God to whom you pray also has an integrity that he will not violate; and beyond this, He loves you.” Bailey 133

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