When we think about prayer, there are two passages that I can bet will show up. The first, and for obvious reasons, is the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:1-4). The second one is “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)
I don’t know if you noticed, but these two passages come from the same chapter in the book of Luke. This might not seem a big deal to you, but for me and people like me who have put a full stop to the Lord teaching on prayer after “lead us into temptation,” and are struggling with how to pray, it is a big deal, because Jesus did not only teach his disciples what to say with the Lord’s prayer (vs 1 to 4) or the result of prayer (vs 9), Jesus linked these two together with a parable (vs 5-8) to teach them how to pray.
I have come across this parable before, but it never meant anything more than what I know in my head. And when we don’t take the effort to move things from our head to our heart, it slips away. The things Jesus taught the disciples to say when they want to pray, are things that could stay in their head, but Jesus also wanted to reach their hearts, so he told them the parable of the friend at midnight.
Jesus says, imagine you knock on your friend’s door at midnight to ask for three loaves of bread because another friend of yours who was traveling dropped by when you were broke. But the friend you were hoping will be your friend in need said he cannot come and wake his children because he wants to give you bread. I guess this guy, like many parents, has put in immense effort to put his kids to bed, and he’s saying, I love you, but I’m not doing this all over again, not even for you.
At this point, Jesus steps out of the story and tells his disciples that even if the friend won’t get the three loaves based on friendship, he will get it because of his shameless audacity to keep knocking at midnight and not taking no for an answer.
These two guys had a relationship, maybe for a year or ten years, but it was long and sincere enough for Jesus to call them friends and for one to run to the other even at an awkward time, yet, Jesus said that was not enough. I would have loved to think that having a relationship with God should be a good enough reason for Him to answer our prayers, but Jesus says it also takes the persistence to keep asking and the boldness to believe God will answer our prayers.
For four months, I prayed one prayer every day. I had never imagined that I could do such, but I had also never imagined my family would run out of options and connect. My brother needed a Canadian visa to complete a program he started in Spain. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and nothing happened. When energy and faith was weak, I took it to my Gospel Community (my small group in church), and they prayed week after week, still no show. Eight days to his time being up in Spain, he got the visa. I knew there was a possibility that God may have better plans, but I decided that if he wasn’t going to get the visa, it won’t be because I didn’t keep knocking on God’s door even for the remaining eight days.
There are some three loaves we will get because God is good and his mercies endureth forever, but there are some three loaves we will get, only if we decide to put our shame aside and be audacious enough to keep asking for what we need. This is what we learn from the friend at midnight.
It is after this parable that Jesus then says in verse 9, ask, seek, and knock. In the context of this story, it is not just ask and move on, Jesus is saying be bold to ask for your three loaves of bread at times you think it appropriate and times you think is not. Whether it is during break at work, whether it is every time it drops on your mind, or whether it is mornings, whatever midnight looks like for you, please ask for your bread.
Jesus says don’t just seek, seek till you find. Seek in the place of prayer like you would if misplaced your car key. Check your pocket, under the rug, look inside the pot, perhaps maybe the fridge. You don’t have to pray alone. Ask your friends, ask your small group in church, ask your kids, ask people that can join their faith with yours. It may look silly but don’t stop seeking till you find what you are looking for.
There are some people who will knock the door, and the way the sound travels from the door to the back of your head and then back to the front, will make you immediately spring up to open the door for them. Jesus is saying don’t just knock, knock down the gates of heaven till heaven has no choice but to release manna for you.
Do you remember the year you gave your life to Christ? If you do, hold that in one hand. Then what year are we? Hold that in the other hand. Now subtract the year you gave your life to Christ from this year. The answer you get is nothing less than the number of years Jesus has been interceding for you at the right hand of God. (If you like numbers, feel free to convert the years into hours, minutes, and seconds for a larger scale).
If God is not tired of hearing Jesus intercede for you for that long, if God will not get tired of Jesus interceding for you till when He calls you home, If God is not tired of this intercession multiplied by the number of Christians there are, then we can have the boldness to pray and to pray and to pray till our joy is full. For us, it’s sounds really annoying to constantly ask someone to do something for us, but Jesus is saying, God can take it. Have no shame.
If we are ever going to err in our prayer life, let us err on the side of faith! Let us err on the side of boldness and persistence. Let us err on the side of awkwardness, and the side of believing what Jesus has said, that the way we should pray is with shameless audacity!
Mojirola is learning and unlearning about God and life and hopes to communicate this through her writing. She’s vulnerable towards her husband, good books, and good food.