Jesus Feeding the 5,000

A daily devotion for May 9th

Prayer's Certainties

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; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him. And suppose the one inside answers, Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.

Luke 11:5-7

This story arises out of the request of one of our Lord's disciples who observed him praying and said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, (Luke 11:1). The link with prayer in this story is very evident — true prayer never occurs apart from a sense of need. The first note in the story Jesus tells is one of dire, pressing necessity. A friend comes after midnight, announcing that another friend has arrived unexpectedly, and he has no food for him. Often others' needs seem more pressing to us than our own. I suspect this man would never have gone in the middle of the night to his friend's house, to borrow bread to meet his own hunger. But when a friend comes on a journey, there is a deep sense of necessity, and he is willing to go to his neighbor even after he has gone to bed.

In such moments of deep necessity true prayer is born. Our Lord begins on that note, then immediately sounds a note of absolute and profound certainty. I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (Luke 11:8) Then he adds, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

That is an amazing declaration. Some interpret this as the Lord saying that we must belabor God with our prayers; we can only expect to get anything from God by persistent prayer, hounding him, picketing the throne of grace, until he gives in and grants our request. But Jesus is teaching the exact opposite here. He is simply using a vivid contrast to set before us the truth he wants. He goes on to say unmistakably, that God is not like that sleepy, reluctant neighbor who does not want to get up out of bed.

We sometimes think our failure in prayer is that we have not been persistent enough. We say, If I'd pray more, then more things would happen; we are obsessed with this idea that God is reluctant and must be wheedled out of things. Jesus says this is not the case. The only possible meaning for verses 9 and 10 is that God gives willingly, freely, without fail, to every child who comes. He goes on to say that he does not tantalize us by holding out false hopes in prayer: Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (Luke 11:11-12) God does not do this. You, as an earthly father, would not give in such a manner, and neither does God.

Lord, your words come with fresh and vital meaning to my heart; I see that there are things I need to ask for, and I know that in every case, without exception, your word is sure and your answer is true. Amen.

Life Application

Am I persistent in prayer, not because God is reluctant to provide an answer, but because he is so aware of my need and so willing to answer?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

What to Do While Waiting

Listen to Ray