Parable of the Midnight Friend

Bruce Creswell, Speaker

Luke 11:5-13 | February 19 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
February 19
Parable of the Midnight Friend | Luke 11:5-13
Bruce Creswell, Speaker

Well, good evening again. Good to see you folks here tonight. The Lord is good, is He not?

Tonight we continue in the parables of the kingdom found in Luke’s Gospel. Warren Wiersbe defined a parable as a picture that becomes a mirror and then a window in that we gaze at the scene in the parable, we see ourselves and we see truth.

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter 11, verses 5 through 13. Luke chapter 11. And now turn to this portion of Scripture, let’s unite our hearts together and seek the Lord’s guidance.

O Lord, again afresh we come and ask that You would meet with us so we pray that Your Word will comfort us, instruct us, encourage our heart, strengthen our hearts. We pray that Your Word will confront us, that it would show to us our needs to highlight our weaknesses to draw closer to Thee, to convict us of where we have fallen short and to draw back to Thee. Then, Lord, we pray that Your Word would conform us that we might grow to be more like our Savior. I ask, Lord, that You would anoint me again afresh and anew and that these words would point to the cross and to the Savior of the cross. For I ask in His name. Amen.

Luke chapter 11, beginning with verse 5.

“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!””

Our Lord was a man of prayer. He was committed to prayer. Luke constantly makes a point to show how that Jesus was praying. If you go back to chapter 3 of Luke’s Gospel, you’ll see Jesus was praying at His baptism. Then if you skip over to chapter 5 in verse 16, we find that Jesus was praying as the crowds increased. Then if you go to chapter 6 and look at verse 12, you find that Jesus was praying before He chose the 12. Go to Luke chapter 9 and look at verses 18 through 28. You’ll find Jesus was praying before He asked the 12 who they thought He was. Then go down to verse 29 of Luke chapter 9 and we see that Jesus was praying at His transfiguration. Then in Luke chapter 22, verses 39 through 45, Jesus was praying the night of His betrayal in the garden.

The Lord made sure He didn’t miss His prayer time. He didn’t feel obligated to spend all His waking hours meeting the needs and the demands of the people. He didn’t hesitate to withdraw from the crowds and spend time alone with the Father. Such was the time that Luke records for us in chapter 11. If you look at verse 1, we read now, “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

We don’t know who that disciple was, but one of the disciples asked Him if it was possible to have some lessons on prayer. Evidently, the disciple was convicted by His Savior’s example and that he also had a desire to improve his prayer life because He saw the Savior praying as he did.

I’m sure that all of us here tonight have someone in our life that has portrayed to us the means and the relationship of praying between a child and the heavenly Father. As a young person 14 years of age, I had the opportunity to do lawn work for one of the homebound people of our church. I would rake the leaves in the fall, wash the windows in the spring, and in the winter months I even learned how to scrub hardwood floors with a brush and a bar of Octagon soap. Never was there a time that I was over doing a job that I would not leave there without a season of prayer with this dear saint. Sometimes we would pray together on the couch, sometimes we got down on our knees and prayed on our knees to the Lord.

This saint of God would start to pray and would go from the ordinary into the extraordinary and take in the promises of God as a simple, childlike believer and bringing them before the heavenly Father and said, “You said this in Your Word. O Lord, we take what You say and we ask that You will do this.”

Well, mind you, I was like a young teenager. I didn’t have all the experience and I was more or less a disciple myself in learning this great communion of prayer. But this person prayed for me when I was the age of 14 all the way until my first church in 1982, and the Lord took that person home at the age of 91. That person prayed me through high school and college and into transition of being a husband. She prayed that I would have a good wife; that’s an important thing to pray for, you know. Then prayed that the Lord would have a place of ministry for me to serve.

That person was a real example of what we would call a prayer warrior, kind of what I picture here about this disciple seeing the Savior, and he says, “Would you teach me to pray as John taught His disciples?”

So the Savior outlines to him what we call the Lord’s Prayer in verses 2 through 4. Notice how He starts this: ” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.””

When you pray. Jesus was outlining to this disciple the petitions to come before the Father. Notice He says, “When you pray, pray Father.” Prayer involves asking, and an important thing is that you ask the right person. Jesus pointed him to the right person. He says, “When you pray, pray Father.” Speaks about the intimacy of a relationship between a father and a child, and to think of the transcendent God and those who have come to Him in faith and repentance can have such a relationship.

He then instructs the disciple that it’s okay to share with the Father some of his own, everyday concerns, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Daily bread is to be in our prayer because the Father is concerned that we should have our needs met. He reminds the disciple of his own sinfulness and the ongoing need to be forgiven and to forgive others, so He tells him, “and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” He also points out to the disciple that the testing and the temptations in his daily life are to encourage him to pray “and lead us not into temptation.”

As soon as He’s finished repeating this prayer, the Lord launches straight into a story. This story is about a friend who had a friend who had a friend, or the parable of the midnight friend.

Now let’s look at this story here in verses 5 through 7.

Friend number one goes to bed for the night. He’s sleeping, sawing logs, when a knock on the door he hears. Friend number two arrives at his doorstep, tired and hungry. Friend number one is glad to see him, but he’s sad because he has no food to offer him. So friend number one invites friend number two in, he sits him down at the table, he says “I’ll be back.” Friend number one excuses himself and goes across the street to friend number three, and it’s at midnight. He knocks loudly on the door, knowing he might not be welcome. And he was right.

Friend number three replies, “What is it? Don’t you know I have children who are sleeping? And the baby is finally asleep? Get away!” But friend number one discreetly says, “Hey, it’s me. I need some bread right now, and the sooner you do it, the sooner you can get back to sleep.”

Well, friend number three realizes who it is and why he came. So he gets up, he stumbles over the children, he stubs his big toe on the family dresser, he trips over the dog, and he manages to hand over the bread to friend number one. Friend number one says to him, with a smile, “Thank you.”

What does this have to do with our praying? At first this parable seems to be out of place regarding prayer, until we remember that our attitude is a major part of praying effectively. You notice with friend number one that he had a certain confidence. You might say a shameless audacity; that’s a good phrase to incorporate in your prayer ministry, in your communion. Shameless audacity. There’s a shameless audacity about friend number one who woke up friend number three that spoke well of the need that friend number one had. He didn’t mind going to friend number three at midnight. First of all, he knew that his friend would help at any time. He knew that his friend may be grumpy, but he would get over it as soon as he realized the need.

You know, one of the nice things about friendship, is it not, is the confidence it gives you to make your requests known to your friends.

This parable is not comparing the grumpy neighbor to God. Please don’t. It’s not a comparison, it is a contrast. The neighbor’s answer stands in sharp contrast to the answer of God. You know, God doesn’t become irritated when we ask Him for help. I appreciated the prayer Brother Joel about confessing why we don’t pray as we ought. But God never becomes irritated when His children come to Him. He is not like that wizard of Oz who stands behind the curtain and Dorothy and her friends all tremble and they shake. God the Father is not like that at all when you and I come to Him needing help.

God neither slumbers nor sleeps. You ever wake up in the morning and thank the Lord for the new day, and thank Him for His watch care over you and your family. You know our country is getting more and more hostile all the time. We read of all of these atrocities that are finding their way into little towns and communities. We should never take for granted that He that keepeth Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. So while we put our head on the pillow and go to sleep at night, He is watching over His own. God never slumbers nor sleeps. You can go to Him anytime.

Friend number one came at midnight. He had the confidence that he could come for help.

Our God’s door is always open. You and I, we lock our doors at night, do we not? You know, when we first had our church down in a little town in West Virginia, a little township was like Andy of Mayberry, everybody sat on their porch in the evening. We’d take our kids and walk down the street down to the park. Up to about a year before we came, people didn’t think anything of leaving their doors unlocked.

But that’s not the case today. Not only do we lock our doors, but we’ve got those Ring bells on our front doors so we can see anybody coming up and either have the dog ready to bark or have a recording of a dog barking, you know.

God’s door is always open.

The intention of this parable is to show the attitude of a family relationship and the confidence that exists in the believer’s approach to his Father in prayer.

Here’s another reason for this shameless audacity that this friend number one displays. It reminds us that God is totally reliable. It says here in verse 11, if you look down here, He says, “For everyone who asks receives and everyone who seeks and finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you if his son asks for a fish will instead of a fish give him a serpent? Or if he asks for an egg will he give him a scorpion? If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your father [sic], how much more…” Don’t you like that phrase? “How much more will your heavenly Father given the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

You know, most children learn to trust their fathers very young in life, and most fathers take delight in this trust, which their children approach them. To illustrate that, I’m often reminded of the television show we watched growing up on Monday nights. Many of you may have seen this show, The Andy Griffith Show. You always see the show beginning with the father and the son holding hands, walking down to the lake to go fishing together. Watching that show, you always saw on the son’s part, Opie, that he never gave it a thought of approaching his father, whether it be there in the sheriff’s office he would walk in and just begin talking, or whether it be on the street or whether it be at home, or be sitting on the porch. There was this confidence, this approach of openness that he shared. The father always reciprocated. He always encouraged the son to share what was on his heart.

So Jesus goes on to explain to this disciple here how he should approach his Father in heaven. He gives him three active verbs and the first letter of each spells the word “ask.” But He says you ask, you seek, and you knock. And with each of those commands there is a promise: Ask and it will be given; seek and you shall find; and knock, and the door will swing open.

Let’s look at those three things that the Savior instructs His disciple in approaching God.

The first one is to ask. To ask implies humility and acknowledgement of need. We are invited to make direct requests to our Father in heaven. Indeed, we should regularly pray for ourselves and others, asking for God’s help, God’s provision, and blessing. We’re to ask and it will be given.

What about the prayer requests that we put forth and are not immediately answered? Well, there’s several ways to look at that. We must remember that when we ask for something, that God is not limited by our timetable, so we must wait on Him.

I had a prayer request of 18 years and I prayed. I prayed for the salvation of my father. My mother, a wonderful Christian, prayed and lived before my dad the Gospel, and I remember praying for him over all of those years. At times I thought, “Lord, why don’t You answer? Where are You? Do You not hear this prayer? Certainly it is Your will that none should perish, but all should come to repentance.” Then I remembered praying having to wait on Him, that is the Lord, to answer. In 1986 my dad came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He became a new creation. He was a dad to my children that he wasn’t to his own three children. He was made new in Christ Jesus. But it was a long time to wait. But one thing learning from that is that God is not limited by time and we must wait on Him.

Another thing to remember is that God acts by wisdom that is much higher than our own, and I look back over some of the requests I’ve made to the Lord and I’m so glad He didn’t answer them according to the way I wanted them answered, instead of getting what I thought would be a loaf of bread would be a stone. I’m so glad He did not answer. His wisdom is much higher than ours.

God’s idea of blessing is often quite different from ours. A father does not promise to grant positive answers to some of our requests because while we may think that we’re asking as the son did for a fish, what we may be desiring would be a serpent if granted.

His answers to our requests may be granted immediately or may be a delayed answer, and sometimes His answer may come in a form that we do not immediately recognize.

You know, the Lord saves people at all ages in life. We had a man in this church who went home to be with the Lord two years ago. He was the last of our World War II veterans in this church. His name was Bob Black. Bob Black’s daddy was a gospel preacher and he prayed for Bob’s salvation for years and years and years. Bob’s daddy was called home somewhere in the early 80s, but he gave his son a Bible and I’ve read what he wrote to his son in that Bible. His prayer was that Bob would come to know the Lord and become a Christian gentleman and love the Lord.

Well, at the age of 90, Bob Black came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His daddy had been home in heaven. His daddy had been praying for him all of his life. That night we baptized him here. He came to church and with had the baptismal font down and Bob was professing his faith in Christ, and Bob’s testimony to everybody present that night, if you were here you remember, that it was a testimony not to give up in praying for your adult children.

Well, we’re to ask.

But notice the second thing here. It is to seek. Seek and ye shall find. Two things involved in seeking. One is asking plus acting. William Hendrickson says seeking is asking plus acting. A person must be active, endeavoring to obtain the fulfillment of his needs.

You know, in some people’s minds, they’re confused about taking any steps to help in the answering of prayer. I remember asking the Lord for a wife and I remember praying for that request. All my friends in college, you know, they had girlfriends. I was praying for a girlfriend, a wife, and I realized the Lord doesn’t drop them out of the sky, you know. You’ve got to go look. You’ve got to go seek and find. So some of my endeavors were disastrous, you know. And the one that became my wife, I got cold feet and I didn’t follow through and I started to date other young ladies and compare them all the time to the one who is my wife now, and they all fell short. I was asking, I was seeking, and I want you to know that I knocked. On June 7, 1979 the Lord answered my prayer and I signed the marriage certificate that I am a married man to Carolyn Dale Main.

We’re to ask and we’re to act. We’re to go forward and trust the Lord’s guidance, the Spirit of God who dwells within us will lead us into all truth and he will direct us on the path that we ought to take, even in the simple things and yet it’s not simple, but serious matter of finding a spouse for our lives.

I look upon these young professionals here and what an encouragement you guys and gals are to all of us here, and just to encourage you that the Lord has a gentleman friend or a lady friend for you if you don’t have one already. But you just keep looking to Him and test the waters, you know.

This third thing here is knocking. You ask, you seek, and you knock. There’s three things implied in that. Number one is asking. The second thing is to act. And the third thing is to persevere.

Now you can imagine friend number on going to friend number three at midnight, needing bread, and knocking. Now if you are a deep sleeper, and you don’t have that Ring thing on your doorbell, you need a lot of knockings on the door to get your attention out of a deep sleep. The instruction to knock is in the present imperative. It means to continue on. That disciple should go on asking, seeking, and knocking. In doing that, you display a sincere tenacity that this is dear to you. Now you don’t have to turn God’s hand and badger Him to death, but you’re to prevail in prayer regarding that request. To knock on a door is to demonstrate a desire to meet with whoever is inside and to continue knocking is to show that there is some degree of urgency about that desire.

Such was friend number one. He needed the bread for friend number two, so he continue to knock and knock and knock until the friend heard him and gave him the loaves of bread.

To pray confidently, that is with shameless audacity, requires an attitude that gets results from a loving Father through asking, seeking, and knocking. Notice our answer in prayer in verses 11 through 13. He says, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!””

From this statement, it would appear that the answering of prayer is basically a spiritual experience with a practical application. It is the Holy Spirit who is made real to praying people in response to their asking and seeking and knocking.

J.C. Ryle correctly says that the Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man. Having this gift, we have all things – life, light, hope, and heaven. In having this gift, we have God the Father’s boundless love, God’s Son atoning blood, and full communion with all three persons of the blessed trinity.

When we consider the Holy Spirit as the greatest of all gifts and see Him included in the practical things that we receive from the Lord, we understand the greatness of answered prayer.

So praying for a spouse, that’s a high priority. Praying for an unsaved loved one is a high priority. But there’s also just the basic, everyday needs that we come to the Lord with.

I had a deacon in my first church, Brother John Dietz. John Dietz was one of the founders of Piedmont Bible College up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Brother John Dietz was a wonderful example and encourager to me. But do you know when I came he was 85 years old? He was on borrowed time. The Lord would, Miss Hazel, his wife, would send him to the store to get groceries and he would go to the grocery store and he’d forget what Miss Hazel sent him to get. So in the middle of the store he’d just bow his head and pray and say, “Lord, remind me of what I need to get.” Well, he did remember the things that Hazel needed, but also a few things that he thought she should have, and so she received not only what she requested but abundantly more.

But in those everyday things that we pray for demonstrates to us that the indwelling Holy Spirit in us guides us and He gives to us and reveals to us the power and the greatness of our heavenly Father. When you’re asking for a wife, and the Lord leads to one of His choosing and you agree, don’t forget the work of the Spirit in bringing about the love and the joy and the peace you found in that relationship.

If you ask for a certain thing and the answer was no, or you had to wait on the Lord, don’t forget the way in which you experienced the Holy Spirit in terms of long-suffering and gentleness and faithfulness in the situation.

So tonight we are reminded that when we pray we’re to ask, we’re to ask as children coming before their father, with an openness, with a shameless audacity, and lay our requests before the throne of grace. We’re to seek, we’re to ask, and we’re to act, and we’re to prevail in prayer, and that in due time the Lord will answer that need.

You may not see that need answered or that request answered, but it will be answered in His time and in His way.

So as we enter into this new week, and we begin the day looking to the Lord, so may I encourage you to ask, not hold back. Now I’m not talking about asking foolishly, but asking from your heart, and to look for Him to guide you as you seek that answer and continue to pray until the light comes through.

So with that in mind, let us learn from this disciple who learned from the greatest teacher of prayer, our Savior. Shall we pray?

Lord, what a blessing indeed it is tonight to be reminded that You are our Father, that You delight in us coming before You and just to lay out our needs before You, to know that You delight to hear and are able to do abundantly, exceedingly, all that we ask or think. Lord, that we would develop a relationship not just a grocery list of items that need to be purchased, but to have a relationship of communion, of confidence, that You want us to have as a child of God with the loving Lord. So, Lord, make us more of a praying people. May we trust You for great things, may we expect great things, and may we live to the honor and the praise of Your glory with children who lean on their heavenly Father. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.