Tuesday, 18 September 2007

School of Prayer I

Preliminary Bible work

5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

This is one of those two point parables from which we’re expected to learn something from the man in bed and something from the man in need.

The man in need represents us, and we’ll come to him in a moment. The man in bed represents God.

Jesus is not trying to teach us that God goes to bed, shuts the door, can’t easily rouse himself from sleep and doesn’t want to be bothered. The point if comparison is that like the sleeping man God will give to those who ask him whatever they genuinely need. The reluctant attitude of the man in bed contrasts with the eagerness of God to give good gifts to his children. No one would turn down a friend in these circumstances even despite substantial initial inconvenience. Therefore God will provide for the needs of his people even more generously and willingly. God is not a distant monarch who can’t be bothered with his subjects and their concerns. He’s interested in even the most trivial and insignificant needs of his people.

From the man in need we learn that we should practice unabashed, shameless forthrightness in prayer which does not hesitate to request the good gifts which God has promised to his people, if they ask him.