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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, August 2, 2015

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

A parable is a story that illustrates a spiritual truth. This parable is a very simple story. One of the Disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father). It’s a prayer that I have prayed at least once a day all my life. But then Jesus gave them this little story, this simple parable.

Christ spoke of a man whose friend came to his house at midnight, but the man had no bread. So he went to his neighbor’s house and asked him for three loaves of bread. He said to his neighbor that a friend had come to his house from a long journey. “And I have nothing to set before him.” The neighbor told him to go away. He and his children were already in bed. Yet the man outside continued to knock on the door. Finally the neighbor opened the door and gave him the bread he needed.

Then Jesus gave the key to this parable; what people used to call the “moral” of the story, the reason for telling it:

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).

The language in the original Greek involves a continued asking, seeking, knocking. Dr. John R. Rice said that the verse could be translated, “Keep on asking, and it shall be given to you; keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you” (Prayer: Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1970 edition, p. 94).

Then there is a second key to the parable. The man was asking for “bread” when he knocked on the door. What is this “bread”? Verse thirteen gives the answer, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” I know that there are other applications, but I am convinced that the main point is this – we must ask, seek, and knock for God to give the Holy Spirit to sinners, to illuminate them, to convict them of sin, to draw them to Christ. Thus, I believe that the “bread” in the parable speaks of the Holy Spirit. In verse six the man asking for bread said, “A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.” Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have nothing for the lost sinners who come to our services.

I remember times when I have prepared a sermon carefully. But when I went to the pulpit it seemed like I was just blowing air out of my mouth! The sermon had good points, and could have helped lost sinners. But there was no power in it. No one was blest. Some preachers in the last days have no idea what I’m talking about. They never experience any difference when they preach. This is sad, because it means they are totally unaware of the Holy Spirit. They cannot even tell whether the Spirit of God is present when they preach.

I once took my lost father to hear a sermon from a famous preacher from Bourbon Street in New Orleans. People had told me that this man could reach my father because he told jokes that caused middle-aged men to listen – and respond to the Gospel. It was the only time I went to church alone with my father. The preacher from Bourbon Street stood up and started telling jokes. He was very good at doing that. Very good indeed! At the end of his talk he said a word or two about being saved. Then he gave the invitation – to come forward and be saved. My father didn’t move. When we were in the car a few minutes later I asked him what he thought. My Dad said, “He’s not as good as Bob Hope.” (For you who are younger – Bob Hope was a famous comedian who told jokes). Dad just said, “He’s not as good as Bob Hope.”

The congregation had laughed all the way through the Bourbon Street preacher’s message. I’m sure he thought it was a great success. But the Holy Spirit was not there! Not at all! I knew it then, and I know it now. My father had come because I pleaded with him. Yes, Dad had come – but the Holy Spirit had not come! My father was a lost sinner – but there was no “bread” for him in that church, which was out near Downey.

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

If I stand up here to preach and the Holy Spirit is not here, no one will be helped, no one will be saved, no one will become a disciple of Christ. That is why I pray over each sentence, and each paragraph, as I write these sermons. That is why I ask you to pray for the sermons in all three of our prayer meetings. That is why we ask two prayer warriors to pray together in another room while I am preaching. Otherwise we have nothing to give from the pulpit – “I have nothing to set before [them].” That is the tragic situation in many churches in the last days! Pray that won't happen to us as well!

How should we pray for God to send “bread” for sinners? How should we pray for the Holy Spirit? Look at verse 9,

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).

Keep asking! Keep seeking! Keep knocking! Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Pray zealously for God to light your soul on fire – so you can pray for the Holy Spirit – for bread for starving sinners!

Then too, we must ask for God to use the fellowship to give bread to sinners. We will have wonderful food, prepared by Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Lee, Robert Lewis, Mr. Dixon and others. But if the Holy Spirit is not present, our meals after the morning and evening services will not help people. I know of a church that used to have meals after the services. The pastor’s wife told me about it with excitement. She said many people came into the church through those meals. Then I asked, “Do you still have those meals?” She said, “No. They didn’t seem to help people any more, so we stopped having them.” I didn’t say anything, but I knew the reason. It wasn’t that the meals didn’t help people. The real reason was because they stopped praying for the meals! When the Holy Spirit is not present, why would lost people want to come to a meal? If the Holy Spirit is not present it’s just another meal! Why bother? Why not eat a Big Mac? Why not eat at home?

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

One preacher thought our meals were great! But he thought he would just change it slightly – because it is hard to cook a big meal like we do. So he changed it “just a little.” Instead of serving a meal he would have the ladies of the church serve appetizers. When Alfred Hitchcock was about to release his horror movie “Psycho” he invited all the movie moguls to the studio. He served them “finger food” – “made from real fingers” – he told them! One woman screamed and dropped hers on the floor!

Appetizers are OK in a reception, but they don't help a group of hungry young people who have just sat through a long church service. I believe the pastor would have seen this mistake if he and his people had been seriously praying about it. You see, even the food we serve will not be a blessing to people if the Holy Spirit is not with us. If God’s Spirit is not here – we have nothing to set before them!

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

A preacher back East told me that his church serves a meal after the morning service. Then the people all go back to the auditorium for another short Bible study. Thus, he said, they didn’t need a Sunday evening service. He said that by having lunch, followed by more Bible study was just as good as having an evening service. He croaked, “They get just as much Bible!”

I thought, “The poor man! No wonder he has never been a successful pastor!” The purpose of an evening service is not to cram more Bible verses into the brains of rebellious “church kids!” Couldn’t he see that? By throwing out the evening service, he loses the opportunity for his people to bring the lost in for an evangelistic service! God help us! If the pastor and his people had been praying seriously about this, I am sure God would have shown them the foolishness of what they were doing. Lost people do not come in and get saved because the Holy Spirit is not there to lead the pastor, and enliven the people! God help us in these evil days!

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

In the last days, preachers and church members seem to stumble around in the dark! Everything we do in church must be saturated in prayer. Otherwise it will be said of us, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). “You have a name that you are alive – but you are really dead.” That can happen to any church – especially in this evil time – in the last days! If we do not plead for the presence of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, soon we will be as dead as the church at Sardis!

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

I am afraid that’s true in most of our churches today. When our people go on vacation, they nearly always come back and tell me they were disappointed by the churches they attended. “The singing was dead.” “The preacher was boring.” “The people were unfriendly.” “They didn’t have a Sunday evening service.” “We went to the prayer meeting, but there was no real prayer – just another Bible study.” If our people think that, so do the lost! No wonder the churches of the last days are so weak!

“A friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him” (Luke 11:6).

Now, we must not become proud. Please remember that we aren’t that much better! We must confess our own weakness or we cannot have God’s strength. We have learned to fast and pray – because fasting is one of the requirements for strong power over Satan and the demonic! (Mark 9:29). We have fasted and prayed, and have received some blessings. But we must continue to fast next Saturday until we have a meal together at 5:30 here at the church.

Tonight I am asking you to pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit in all of our activities. Without the presence of God’s Spirit, we “have nothing to set before” lost sinners! Therefore we must pray in detail for the Holy Spirit to come down in everything we do. The Holy Spirit is the very “bread” we must have, or sinners will go away from our church hungry – and will not be saved.

Yes, Jesus died on the Cross to save sinners from God’s wrath. Yes, Jesus rose from the dead to give sinners the new birth, even to give everlasting life within them! But these things will not become real to them without the work of God’s Spirit. Therefore, all week, when you pray, pray for bread for sinners. Pray for God to send the Holy Spirit down in our services to illuminate their darkened minds, and to make them feel the guilt of their sin, and their great need for the Lord Jesus Christ! Now look at Luke 11:13. It’s on page 1090 in the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read it.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

Now here is the list of things to pray for this week, and especially on Saturday.

1.  Make your fast a secret (as much as possible). Don’t go around telling people that you are fasting.

2.  Spend some time reading the Bible. Read some parts of the Book of Acts (preferably near the beginning).

3.  Memorize Isaiah 58:6 during Saturday’s fast.

4.  Pray for God to give us 10 or more new people who stay with us.

5.  Pray for the conversion of our unsaved young people. Pray for God to do for them what He said in Isaiah 58:6.

6.  Pray that first time visitors today (Sunday) will be drawn back again next Sunday. Pray for them by name if possible.

7.  Pray for God to show me what to preach next Sunday – in the morning and in the evening.

8.  Drink lots of water. About one glass each hour. You can drink one large cup of coffee at the beginning if you are used to drinking it every day. Do not drink soft drinks, power drinks, etc.

9.  See a medical doctor before you fast if you have any questions about your health. (You can see Dr. Kreighton Chan or Dr. Judith Cagan in our church.) Do not fast if you have a serious disorder, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Just use Saturday to pray for these requests.

10. Begin your fast after your evening meal on Friday. Don’t eat anything after dinner on Friday until we have a meal at church at 5:30 Saturday evening.

11. Remember that the most important thing to pray for is for the lost young people in our church to be converted – and also for the new young people coming in during this time, to stay with us permanently.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Luke 11:5-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Praying For You” (by S. O’Malley Clough, 1837-1910).