Imagine you and your family are sound asleep after a long day. You wake up to loud rapping on your door. You shoot a blurry-eyed glance at the clock on your nightstand. A red 12:00 midnight glares back. The continued rapping makes you realize you weren’t dreaming. You throw on a robe, and rush to your bedroom window, fearing the worst.
Your friend is standing on your porch with a very concerned look on his face. You open the window and loudly whisper. “What’s going on? It’s midnight!”
“Hey friend, I have unexpected company and need to borrow some bread,” he says.
“Bread? That’s what this is all about? Sheesh, I thought somebody died! Come back tomorrow?”
“I need to feed my guests. Can you lend me some bread?” He insists.
“I told you to come back tomorrow! You are going to wake up my family. Go home!” You partially slam the window, then hope no one woke up. You don’t need your kids up right now. Grumbling quietly to yourself, you throw the robe on a chair and get back in bed.
The rapping begins again. “Unbelievable!” You whisper, grab your robe, and open the window. “What is your problem? It’s the middle of the night!”
“My friend and his family have traveled a long distance,” your friend persists, “they had no means to buy any food, and they’re very hungry. I didn’t get a chance to go grocery shopping and have nothing to give them! Please, can I just borrow some loaves of bread?”
“You’re going to wake up my family! Come back later!” You close the window again and rip your robe off, wondering what you ever saw in that friend. Just as you crawl back into bed you hear the rapping again.
Then from down the hall, you hear your children’s voices. “Mommy! Daddy!”
This time, you jump out of your bed and don’t bother with the robe. You go into the kitchen, grab all the loaves of bread you can find and put them in a grocery bag; then stomp to your front door, open it and shove the bag at your friend. “Here is your bread! Now go away, and let me sleep!”
This is how I imagine the sleeping man felt in the parable of Luke 11:5-8. When I first read this biblical account, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. From anyone’s perspective, the man was rude and insensitive to come to the door at midnight, risking waking his friend’s entire family; then insisting on the bread when his friend wanted to go back to sleep and told him to go away. Surely, Jesus wasn’t condoning such rude, selfish behavior, was He?
Jesus told His disciples this parable right after He taught them The Lord’s Prayer. When read in context to the verses before and after the parable, the sleeping man represents God and the friend represents us. Jesus was not advocating it is okay to be rude or selfish. Nor was He implying God sleeps and gets grumpy when we call on Him in the wee hours of the morning with our needs.
Luke 11:8 “I tell you even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
It was the man’s persistence that caused the man of the house to fulfill his request. Jesus is telling us not to give up on our prayers. In verses 9-13 of the same chapter, Jesus tells us that if we, who are self-centered and greedy, can make good choices when those we love ask us for something, how much more does our Heavenly Father who deeply loves us, want good things for us when we ask Him!
Luke 11: 11-12 “(When) one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? “
If a person is willing to inconvenience himself and family to help a friend that persists with a plea, how much more is God willing to consider the petitions of those who love Him? Jesus tells us to keep knocking, keep seeking, and keep asking. It is always important to interpret Scripture in context to what is said before and after. Sometimes, you even have to back up or go forward a whole chapter or so.
Two thousand years ago, there were no grocery stores, mini-marts, frozen food, fast foods, microwaves, ATMs or telephones in Israel. People had to bake their bread each morning to last for the rest of the day. Sometimes they baked a couple of days’ worth at a time, because baking bread was not an easy or quick job with their appliances. People traveled by foot most of the time. A 40 mile trip to us, could have taken an entire day back then, especially if people were traveling with children or elderly family. By the end of the day, they were exhausted and hungry. It was the custom when guests suddenly stopped by someone’s house, to make sure they were well taken care of.
Visit Luke chapter 11 verses 1 to 13 to see the Biblical account.
Keep knocking, keep seeking, and keep asking. God’s answers to your prayers may not always be exactly what you wanted. Sometimes, He answers our persistent prayers exactly as we have asked, then later we find the answer to be something we could have lived without. Ask wisely.
Image courtesy of Apolonia/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian ©2013