And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs." (Luke 11:5-8)
If you follow the daily readings of Lent, you may will recognize this passage as the one set for today. At first sight, the teaching of Jesus on prayer can seem confusing, On the one hand, he tells us not to go in for long winded prayers as if God will hear us because of our many words; on the other hand, he urges us to persist in prayer until God hears and answers. There is, though, no contradiction here. The stipulation to keep things simple still stands – after all, God knows our needs before we ask, so we hardly need to labor the point. On occasions, however, God chooses for a variety of reasons not to answer our prayers immediately or is unable to do so. It may be that we need to demonstrate our resolve, or that the time to grant the request is not yet right or that, we are asking for the wrong thing. Whatever the reason, this parable tells us not to lose heart; still less worry that God might grow impatient with us. Unlike the friend at midnight, God is always anxious to meet our needs, at any and every moment. If the answer doesn’t seem to come, then make no mistake, there is a good reason.
Do you hesitate sometimes to bother God again about a recurring problem? Are you making the mistake of attributing your own lack of patience to God? Remember, ‘Do not brood over anything, but thankfully acquaint God with all your needs through your prayers and petitions.’ (Philippians 4:6).
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week?
Gracious God, I thank you for all the prayers you have answered over the years, and I bring those that seem unanswered, knowing that you are always ready to hear me and that you always, finally answer. Receive my praise, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Shalom to you my friend,