A FRIEND AT MIDNIGHT
Luke 11:5-10 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus tells His disciples, After this manner therefore pray ye, which He followed by reciting to them, what has become to be known as the "Lord's Prayer". There is no indication that this instruction in prayer was the result of a question or a request. However, Luke, Chapter 11, begins with this request from one of his disciples, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. Jesus replied with a model prayer that was very much like the "Lord's Prayer" cited in Matthew, as being taught during Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount". There were a few minor differences. Matthew uses the phrase, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, while Luke has the same meaning but states it differently -Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Matthew writes, And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors, while Luke records Jesus as saying, And forgive us our sins: for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. Debts and sins were often used interchangeably, and such is the translation of these phrases. Matthew closes the prayer with, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Luke omits this phrase. Although these prayers are very similar, it is very possible that Jesus used them on different occasions to instruct His disciples how to pray.
Not only did Jesus give His disciples examples of what should be included in their prayers, but he also taught them how to effectively pray to God. Paraphrasing the parable we find a person, having nothing to serve guests that came to visit unexpectedly at a late hour. At midnight, he went to the home of a friend asking for bread. Because of the late hour, the friend and his children were already in bed, so he refused his request for bread. The parable then says that because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. The person needing the bread to serve his guests was importunate, meaning he was persistent, due to the urgency of his request - he refused to give up and continued to knock, beg, and plead, knowing that he would finally rise and give him as many (loaves of bread) as he needeth. From this parable, we learn that God wants, even expects, His children to be persistent in their prayer requests; to steadfastly, and continually seek God's blessings, wisdom, and guidance in all facets of their lives.
The last two verses of the lesson text are the same as found in Matthew 7:7-8. Here we find three forms of making our prayer requests known to God - we are told to ask, ...seek, and ...knock. Each is a method of petitioning God. We ask God in prayer to fill our needs, our wants and desires. We seek God in prayer when we search, not only for guidance to conduct our daily lives, but comfort and consolation in times of loneliness and sorrow. We knock on the door of God's heart, when our prayer is urgent; when we have an immediate crisis in our lives; when we are faced with imminent danger. This parable tells us, not only that we must ask, seek and knock when we pray, but to do so in an importunate manner - continually and persistently. All blessings of life can be found in, and flow from God. The only way to access this fountain of blessings is through prayer - asking, seeking, and knocking continuously in prayer, firmly convinced that our requests are sincerely needed, and equally convinced that God will fill our needs.
That God will hear our prayers, we can be assured. That God will answer our prayers is also assured. That God will grant our wishes is, however, conditional. It must also be God's will! This condition is fully explained by the apostle John. He wrote this in chapter 5 of his first epistle: And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petition that we desire of Him (Vss. 14-15).