The Power of Persistence: Luke 11:1-13

Focus Passage: Luke 11:1-13 (GNT)

1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say this:
 ‘Father:
    May your holy name be honored;
    may your Kingdom come.

3 Give us day by day the food we need.

4 Forgive us our sins,
    for we forgive everyone who does us wrong.
    And do not bring us to hard testing.’”

5 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6 A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ 7 And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘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.’ 8 Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. 9 And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. 11 Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? 12 Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? 13 As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Read Luke 11:1-13 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While teaching the disciples how to pray in Luke’s gospel, Jesus first gives them a model prayer before quickly transitioning into an intriguing parable-illustration that on the surface implies that God can be pestered into answering our requests.

In this illustration, Jesus tells His disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend’s house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don’t have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘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.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.” (v. 5-8)

This parable amazes me because it appears to encourage us to be extra persistent – even annoying at times – when asking God for something. In some ways, God is way more loving than I am because if a “friend” kept pestering me at midnight for some loaves of bread, I am uncertain if he/she would remain a friend. While they might eventually pester their way into getting bread, it would probably cost a friendship.

However, thankfully God is more loving and merciful than me, and when Jesus shares this passage, He frames it along the lines of us doing the asking and persisting, rather than us being the friend who is woken up at midnight.

While on the surface, this parable is pretty powerful, hidden in the details is an even more amazing truth that anyone, anywhere in the world can claim and act upon – regardless of if they are a Christian or not. As Christians and followers of Jesus, we can consider ourselves friends of God. In Jesus’ concluding line, He sweeps our friendship aside when He says, “I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.” (v. 8)

Jesus tells these disciples that regardless of a person’s view of God or of the strength of their relationship, persistence in their prayers will lead to answers – and this is even for those who are not considered friends of God. As I write this, I wonder if more people would see more blessings added to their lives if they would simply persist with heartfelt prayers, regardless of their view of God, their level of faith in Him, or their belief about whether or not He exists.

Persistent, sincere prayers appear to be one thing God wants His followers to model for others. Tucked inside this parable is the promise that anyone, anywhere can start being persistent with their prayers and can expect God to answer with a gift of what they need – which may look different from what they were asking for to begin with.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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