7-10-2022 “Fundamentally Sound: Prayer”

Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning

Franklin, NC 28734 July 10, 2022

Fundamentals of Faith: Prayer”1

Luke 11:1-13

Sports require fundamental soundness for success. Many an aspiring, and elite, basketball prayer must repeat drills that will in time enable excellent dribbling, passing, and shooting—as well as excellent defensive moves and postures, among others. One who would play baseball better works on drills that develop better hitting, fielding, pitching, and base running—to name but four. To be a good golfer requires an unerringly consistent swing and skill in the short game, especially chipping and putting—and there are drills to develop these skills as well.

We must be fundamentally sound in the things of God to survive and to advance in this uphill, wind-in-our-faces time. Let’s review the course so far. Last week, we looked at Scripture, particularly its nature and uses, as we surveyed 2 Timothy 3:14-17. In weeks to come, God willing, we shall look at host of other spiritual exercises that will conduce to our fundamental soundness in Jesus Christ. Today we look at prayer—and Jesus teaches both the matter for prayer and the manner of prayer in today’s text, Luke 11:1-13. Let us give our attention once again to the reading and proclamation of God’s Word.


We meet Jesus on the road (9:51-19:44, which narrates the Lucan travelogue) between Galilee, in the north of the Holy Land, and Jerusalem, in its south. We also meet Jesus, as do His disciples then, at prayer. One of those disciples requests of Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Jesus, in response to this request, teaches us both the matter for prayer (1-4) and the manner of prayer (5-13).

We start, as Jesus did, with the matter for prayer. Jesus begins, saying, “When you pray, say…,” and then He provides a number of model utterances for His disciples. Jesus begins with our address unto God: He teaches to call Him Father. Dr. Loyd Melton, professor of New Testament in Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina, since 1978, said that this address was the most revolutionary thing Jesus ever taught.2 We relate to the Lord not so much on the basis of servant and master (though we are, and He is) or on the basis of subject and sovereign (though, again, we are, and He is). We relate to the Lord fundamentally on the basis of family, and we cry out to Him, through the Holy Spirit, in familial terms, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:15). We note also that Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). We relate to the Lord on the basis of family, and Jesus teaches as much.

Now follow the petitions which Jesus instructs us to offer unto our Father. We pray, “Hallowed by Your Name,” and in this we plead that the Lord’s Name be regarded as holy—in us, in all of His covenant people, and everywhere. Then we pray, “Your Kingdom come.” With these words we pray for the righteous reign of God to come—particularly to come to bear upon our existence here and now, increasingly over time and to the full in Glory. We continue, to pray, asking Him, “Give us each day our daily bread.” By praying for our daily provision, we also pray two other petitions—namely, “Forbid us worry, O Lord, about our future provision,” and, “Forbid us greed, O Lord, that we not have inordinate desire for the good things you supply.” We pray—indeed, we plead—“Forgive our sin,” but there is a not-so-parenthetical remark attached: “For we forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” We would not be as the unmerciful servant in Jesus’ similitude (Matthew 18:21-35). We would be mercifully inclined toward others—and, by the powerful grace of God, actually forgive them when, not if, they sin against us. The final petition here listed is this one: Lead us not into temptation (or testing, Greek peirasmos [peirasmoV]). This is a plea for protection and deliverance from all the schemes and weapons of the evil one—indeed, a fine petition to offer.

Jesus, having concluded the matter for prayer, now turns to teach the manner of prayer (5-13). He does this by telling one of his many similitudes; we know it as the parable of the midnight visitor (5-8). A man is short-handed when his visitor arrives at midnight. He needs three loaves of bread. His need, actually, is far greater than three loaves of bread—for should he fail to provide for his guest—no matter the date, time, or amount of provision required, and no matter if the guest is expected or not—is social taboo in that time. People will make him a byword and they will shun him.

The man receiving his midnight visitor thus calls upon his friend for help. His friend, in so many words, and fairly predictably, rebuffs him. He tells his calling friend that he barely can move himself, let alone disturb the household, to assist. Yet, even after this rebuff, the desperate caller desists not. He must bless his visitor, and he must avoid becoming a social pariah. Therefore, he persists—with shameless boldness and with no regard to propriety. In due time, he gains his point—and his three breads.

Jesus holds such persistence up as a model for His disciples to emulate, and then He instructs us further (9-13). He encourages us to ask, to seek, and to knock—and keep on doing these.3 We are to ask, to seek, and to knock of the Lord Himself, the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17), and we are to solicit good gifts from His good hand. Then we may expect, by God’s grace, to receive, to find, and to find it opened. Jesus reinforces His instruction via appeal from the lesser to the greater. The father, though evil, certainly will not give a serpent when his son asks for a fish. Nor will he give a scorpion when his son requests an egg. Our Heavenly Father, the infinitely greater, Himself perfectly wise and infinitely loving, gives good gifts to those asking Him (Matthew 7:11)—even the Holy Spirit to those asking Him (Luke 11:13).

Will we pray like this? Will we pray in such a manner as directed here—and in such a manner as exemplified by the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable (Luke 18:1-8). Indeed, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? May the Lord gives us holy boldness and holy stamina to pray thus: both to please Him and to obtain the thing we ask—and both to the glory of His Name.


1This manuscript varies slightly from the one written for the sermon delivered at Bonclarken Conference Center, Flat Rock, North Carolina, on Saturday evening, June 4, 2022, at the church-wide retreat of the Highlands Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Grayson, Georgia.

2Dr. Melton uttered his claim in his Spring 1993 Pastoral Care and Counseling course, in which I was enrolled as part of my Master of Divinity studies.

3The Greek verbs translated ask, seek, and knock are present-tense imperatives, or commands. Hence, they connote continuance or repetition. See J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners (New York: Macmillan, 1923), 180.