Jesus wants me to be bold in what I ask of God. In fact, I should be very persistent and without shame in my boldness. God wants to help me. God is in a good mood. God wants to give me what I need. I just need to lay hold of God’s will so that what God wants will be done. Prayer isn’t about me.
He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s shameless boldness, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. | Luke 11:5-8 (Christian Standard Bible)
In this parable, Jesus did not say that God is like this grouchy neighbor. In fact, He said just the opposite. If a tired and selfish neighbor finally meets the needs of a bothersome friend, how much more will a loving Heavenly Father meet the needs of His own dear children! He is arguing from the lesser to the greater.
We have already seen that prayer is based on sonship (“Our Father”), not on friendship; but Jesus used friendship to illustrate persistence in prayer. God the Father is not like this neighbor, for He never sleeps, never gets impatient or irritable, is always generous, and delights in meeting the needs of His children. The friend at the door had to keep on knocking in order to get what he needed, but God is quick to respond to His children’s cries.
The argument is clear: If persistence finally paid off as a man beat on the door of a reluctant friend, how much more would persistence bring blessing as we pray to a loving Heavenly Father! After all, we are the children in the house with Him!
The word used here means “shamelessness” or “avoidance of shame.” It can refer to the man at the door who was not ashamed to wake up his friend, but it can also refer to the friend in the house. Hospitality to strangers is a basic law in the East. If a person refused to entertain a guest, he brought disgrace on the whole village and the neighbors would have nothing to do with him. The man in the house knew this and did not want to embarrass himself, his family, or his village; so he got up and met the need.
Why does our Father in heaven answer prayer? Not just to meet the needs of His children, but to meet them in such a way that it brings glory to His name. “Holy be Your name.” When God’s people pray, God’s reputation is at stake. The way He takes care of His children is a witness to the world that He can be trusted. Phillips Brooks said that prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness. Persistence in prayer is not an attempt to change God’s mind (“Your will be done”) but to get ourselves to the place where He can trust us with the answer.
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Lk 11:1–54). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 215). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.