"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me" John 14:1
LUKE 11:1-13 Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
SERMON OUTLINE, The Importance of Prayer


Central Idea:  It is through prayer that we come to God with our requests.  (or, We need to pray because God is gracious in answering prayer; so keep on praying.)


What is prayer?  When we pray, we talk to God.  It's not about a ritual (something you must do), it's about a relationship (someone you are invited to know).  The idea is not so much, "You'd better pray or you're going to be in trouble," but, "Here is your Father, come and tell him your needs."  Although there's more to prayer than just asking God to do stuff or give you something, this passage is primarily about God giving you what you ask for.


I. God expects his people to pray (2-4).

a. The phrase, "When you pray . . .," indicates that we will pray.

b. But why pray if God already knows what we need?  We don't tell God anything he doesn't know.  Nor are we forcing the hand of God. 

c. But we do submit our wills to his.

d. Prayer is an expression of our faith.


II. God wants his people to pray with understanding.

a. We need to understand who God is and what he is about.  This world is about God's kingdom, not ours.  It is his story of redemption and forgiveness.  (Lord's Prayer: "your kingdom come," "forgive us our debts.")

b. God is our holy Father with plenty of resources. 

c. We are his needy children.


III. God desires his people to persist in prayer (5-10).

a. We don't know why God chooses the route of persistence.  Nonetheless, we gain something valuable and God receives glory as we persist.  

b. The point here isn't that if you bug God enough, he'll cave in.  Rather, we will often never see our prayers answered if we aren't persistent.  He sometimes answers our prayers right away, but not always.

c. He is a Father who wants us to approach.


[In verse 8, some scholars debate which pronouns refer to which person in the parable.  There's also controversy over whether the word "boldness" (NIV) or "persistence" (NASV) is really about the idea of persistence or shame.  In other words, did the friend answer the door because the guy knocking was persistent or because he, the one sleeping, did not want to be shamed for failing to help?  The point, nonetheless, is, just as this friend helped, God will also help.]


IV. God glorifies himself by answering prayer (11-13).

a. But God does not always say "yes" to our requests.

b. So how do we reconcile an unanswered prayer with the phrase "you will be given . . . ?"  (In general, God invites us to ask for anything, and he will give it.  In other words, he is a giving God, a giving Father.  But, specifically, he sometimes says no because it is not the best for us or the best for his kingdom.)


Remember, we are praying, "Lord, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  This life is not all about what we want.  It is about the glory of our great God who has sent his Son Christ to us. 


God is a good Father, and he knows what is best for his children.  But he still wants us to express our love toward him and to speak our requests to him.


No true friend would allow a friend to go without food, and no good father would torture his children.  If sinful humans give their friends and family what they ask for, how much more willing is the perfect God of the universe able to meet the needs of his children?


All of the good things that we can receive from God come through Christ.  Christ died and rose again in order to deal with our sin debt.  We can only be forgiven if we believe in Christ, trusting his death as the only payment for our sin.


Background issues to better understand the passage:

  • General setting: Seems to stress God's authority and worthiness to be honored.
  • In chapter nine, Jesus tells the crowd not to make excuses but to follow Him.
  • In chapter ten, he sends the group of seventy out.
  • The group comes back and reports that the spirits were subject to them through Jesus' name.
  • Someone tests Jesus and he tells the story of the good Samaritan.
  • Jesus enters Mary and Martha's house.  Jesus rebukes Martha for being too worried but commends Mary for sitting at his feet.
  • Context of passage: Christ submits himself to the Father through prayer; we should do the same.
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