23 October 2007

Luke 11:5-13

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened". (v. 9-10)


Here we see Jesus as someone whose ministry is shaped by prayer. What is true for Jesus should be true for those who seek to follow him. Seeing Jesus at prayer prompts his disciples to ask for instruction in prayer.

Why has someone arrived needing hospitality so late? Probably because he or she travelled late to avoid the heat of the midday sun. In the culture of the time, hospitality was a sacred duty.

The man who was woken by his persistent friend would have been asleep on a mat on the floor with his children, having barred the door for the night. Getting up would wake the whole family.

Jesus is not saying that God is like a reluctant friend but that if friends respond to a persistent request, how much more will God.

And what about the concluding verses? God responds to prayer. Prayer is continual.

If we think of parent-child relationships, persistence will bring good gifts (though perhaps we wish we could resist the pester power). If human parents with all their frailties know what things to give their children, then we can trust God to give us what we need.

And what about unanswered prayer? This is a question Luke does not acknowledge in these verses - something we will have to continue wrestling with, searching for help elsewhere in other biblical material; or drawing on personal experience, our own or others.

To Ponder

What would you do, if you were the friend being woken in the night by a neighbour wanting bread? And what about those persistent chuggers in the street, or charity letters or all those other requests you get?

Do you always get what you ask God for? What do you do when you don't?

Bible notes author

Revd Helen White

Helen White is a Methodist minister, currently serving in the Wantage and Abingdon circuit in south Oxfordshire. She has particular responsibility for Blewbury, Didcot, Milton and Upton Methodist churches, as well as sharing in the work of other churches across the circuit.