‘Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;’”’ Luke 11.5
This verse is the beginning of what might seem to be a strange parable! Some unexpected guests turn up late at night so the next-door neighbour is asked to help out with some food. Although the groggy neighbour is unimpressed at being woken from his sleep, the persistent asking causes him to give in and supply what is needed. Then the parable goes on to encourage us to ask.
We might be left wondering if God is this grumpy when we bombard him with our requests, and if he only gives in because he cannot stand our nagging any more – but of course God is not like this! The parable is not about the nature of God, but rather the value of persistence. If even a grumpy, groggy neighbour can be moved by persistence, then how much more is this true of God, who loves us to call out to him.
Why do we have to persist? It may be a measure of our commitment to the things we pray about, or perhaps persistence gives us increasing insight into situations. As we persist in prayer, perhaps we also catch something of God’s desperation to see his kingdom come. Whatever the reason, it is something that God values and we need to take seriously.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission