Luke 11:5-8 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
This is one of those strange parables from Jesus where we are left wondering just what Jesus is trying to communicate to us. A friend rings your doorbell at midnight and asks for bread for some out of town company that just arrived. You are tired and exhausted from a long day at work and you tell your friend that your door is locked, and you are not willing to get up from bed to give him some bread. However, because this man continues to knock on your door and ring your doorbell (bold and persistent), you finally get up out of bed and give him as much or more than he needs. What is Jesus saying to us? Are we to “wear” down God with our prayer requests until he gets tired and gives in to us?
In this parable, Jesus is urging us to be bold and to persist in our prayers. Jesus teaches us that prayers can’t be answered if we don’t ask. Of course, sometimes our prayers are “answered” when God says “no.” We must remember and believe that God wants to do what is best for us and that He knows what is best for us.
Another “odd” parable on prayer is the Parable of the Persistent Widow from Luke 18: 1-8. Beginning in verse 2: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
The key to understanding this parable is found in the first verse (Luke 18:1): Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Again, we see this persistence in prayer that is common to both parables. God is not like the unjust judge who finally gave into the widow because he was worried that she would eventually “wear him out” with her requests. God is just and loving, and He wants us to come before him persistently, with our praise, our requests, and our worries.
Asking, seeking, and knocking imply persistence. We ask, we then seek, and when we arrive at our destination we continue knocking, persistently. Anything that is worthwhile is often difficult to attain. Why should prayer be any different? Keep on asking, seeking and knocking. God wants us to persist in prayer so that our faith will be increased.