Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Prayer Parable

Teach us to Pray: Part 4

Prayer is an important part of our relationship with God. When we pray we demonstrate what we believe about God. Do we think that He is good? Do we believe He cares about us?

Jesus, in the model prayer that He gave to His disciples, addressed God as Father. I believe Jesus did this, not only because He knew God to be His Father, but because He wants us to experience God as Father as well. Prayer opens us up to experience God as our Heavenly Father.

Jesus did not stop His teaching on prayer with a simple model of what prayer was like, but He continued on with a PRAYER PARABLE:
5 Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6 A friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don't have anything to serve him.’ 7 Suppose he answers from inside, ‘Stop bothering me! The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything!’ 8 I tell you, even though he doesn't want to get up and give him anything because he is his friend, he will get up and give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. (Luke 11:5-8; ISV)

This parable would have made much more sense to the original audience. We think it would be rude for a friend to show up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. But for these people night would be the ideal time to travel to escape the hot sun. And without modern communication devices it would have been impossible to keep people informed on progress.

It may also seem rude to us to wake up a friend during the night to get some necessities. This is especially true when we take into account the fact that many Palestinian families slept together in the same room on a single mat. If the father gets up to get the bread, he would naturally wake up the wife and the kids. We also have to keep in mind that in this culture hospitality was very important. A visitor was not simply hosted by a family, but by the whole community. Therefore, this neighbor would have the right to ask his friend to provide for the visitor even if the friend was a bit put out by the request. Also you have to remember that in a smaller community it would have been impossible to hide which family had done their baking for the week. (Mark Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ: From Galilee to Glory, pp. 17-18).

This is not a parable of representation. The tight-fisted neighbor does not represent God. Instead he stands in contrast to God. In other words the moral of the story is that if a tight-fisted neighbor is motivated to give by our persistence how much more will God be motivated to give to us because of love. God is not a stingy giver, but He loves and desires to give to us what we need. When we believe God is motivated by love, to give us what is best for us, then we will boldly approach God with our needs, worries, and even desires. Because we understand God loves us we will see an answer of “No” as what is best for our lives.

Hebrews 4:16 reminds us why we can approach God with confidence: Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help (NET). The sacrifice of Jesus serves as evidence that God is going to do whatever it takes to bring us into relationship with Himself and thus provide for us what we need for life. We know God wants the best for us because He allowed Jesus to be mocked by sinful men, die on the cross, and take on our sins. Prayer allows us to boldly go to the throne of grace with all our concerns. It reveals whether or not we believe God has our best at heart. We pray because we believe God is good.

  • Point to Ponder: When we believe God is motivated by love, to give us what is best for us, then we will boldly approach God with our needs, worries, and even desires.
  • Passage to Remember: Luke 11:5-8
  • Question to Consider: Do you think God is concerned about your life?

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