One day, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. They had heard that John (the baptist) had taught his disciples to pray and perhaps wondered why Jesus had not done the same, not realising that Jesus is the answer to all our prayers. So Jesus taught them a prayer which we now call as “Our Lord’s Prayer“. Jesus did not simply give them the words to recite as prayer but also taught them on having the right attitude while praying. The parable of the Audacious Friend serves as the base for the disciples to develop the correct mindset while praying to God.
Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘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.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.Luke 11:5-8 (NIV)
There are two friends in this Parable, one who has come to our house and the other whom we have disturbed in the middle of the night. There is definitely a close bond between the first set of friends as only a person close to us would visit us at that hour of the night. However, there doesn’t seem to be the same level of intimacy with the second friend, the one the man went to in the middle of the night to get food for his visiting friend. But for the sake of his friend the man still swallows his pride and begs shamelessly for some food almost surely waking up the entire household in his neighbour.
In a similar parable, Jesus uses the example of a widow who sought justice against her adversary. The judge was neither a God-fearing man nor did he care about the people he presided over and kept refusing to grant the widow’s request. However, he eventually gave up after being worn out by the woman’s constant nagging. It was easier for him to rule in her favour than go another minute against her, as he could not tolerate her persistence. In ancient times, women especially the widowed, were often neglected. Surely, Jesus’ audience could relate to this parable where the widow was denied justice. And they could also relate to the situation of having nothing to offer to a visiting friend. So the protagonists of both the parables are relatable, but why is Jesus seemingly comparing God to the reluctant friend or the rude judge?
Constrasting to God
By using characters like the sleeping friend and the ungodly judge, Jesus is contrasting them with the grace of God and revealing the forthright relationship that we can have with Him. We do not hesitate to beg and borrow from our earthly friends than we do with God during times of our need. We ask our neighbours for small favours such as a cup of sugar, pens from our colleague or even ask for a not so small favour. Asking a close friend for a substantial amount in cash as a loan, so that we can pay the tuition fees for our children or the medical bills or maybe just spending on something that we desire like a new car.
We all have shameless audacity when it comes to asking for things that are dear to us and for the people that are close to us. We do not care if the person whom we are approaching, whether an ungodly person or a corrupt person and are not perturbed by the humiliation we might suffer, as long as our requests are granted. But when approaching God, we don’t have that same humility. Either we want things from Him at our convenience or don’t bother keeping a relationship with Him if our requests are not granted. We don’t stay for long at His front porch if the door doesn’t open soon. Even before knocking at God’s door, our hearts are already formulating a plan B.
Ask for His Spirit
The Parables that Jesus told His disciples when they were alone and away from the crowds, primarily served the purpose of building their faith. Jesus is teaching His disciples about the level of freedom and ease they have in approaching the Father whenever they want. He is not like the friend who is disturbed by our request or the unjust judge not granting our requests. Even an ungodly judge answered her request, out of fear of constant nagging. If the atheist judge who did not care about anyone decided to grant justice, how much more would our God answer our prayers if we just ask him once?
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”Luke 11:13 (NIV)
Solomon who asked for wisdom from God seemed like the guy who asks a genie for unlimited wishes. However more than wisdom or riches, we need to ask for His Spirit which guides us in all our decision making. God has given us the greatest gift in two parts. First, the Son who took our sins and made us clean and then the Spirit who makes us whole again enabling us to be one with the Father. Are we asking for the Spirit or are we looking at these parables and asking for our desires for the things of this world to be fulfilled.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.James 4:3 (NIV)
We should not take both parables literally. The man pestered his friend to get his work done but that should not be our relationship with God. The widow nagged the judge into ruling in her favour against her adversary. People sometimes take these two parables to mean that God will grant us anything we ask, if we prayed long enough and that He will even grant us victory over our enemies. Jesus’ intention with these parables was always to reveal the heart of God and not hand out quick fixes for our problems.
Our Relationship with God
Who is the friend in need who has come to our house at an ungodly hour? Have we stopped to think about their needs? They could have come to us to share their problems or to ask us to pray for them or for some other assistance. Who are we turning to for help so that we can provide for the needs of the visiting friend? We could turn to our earthly friends but they will only disappoint especially when our request is of inconvenience to them. But there is a friend who never sleeps and is waiting at the door to help us with all our requests. He is the one who stands at the doorsteps of our hearts and knocks hoping that we would let Him in. But we are like the friend who makes excuses to not open the door to our hearts.
The parable is bringing out what kind of relationship we want to have with God. Do we approach him only when we are in need or do we have an open-door policy with Him so that we don’t even have to knock when entering each other’s house? If our relationship with God is not right then we would be guilt-ridden when approaching his doorsteps at the hour of our needs. At that moment, satan will start putting doubts in our minds to convince us to return back from God’s front porch. He would want us to think that God is the friend who will deny our request or the Judge who will ignore our prayers. But the parable of the Audacious friend is not about pestering God to do something for us or persistently asking Him even after receiving a response from Him. It is about having a relationship with God that gives us the privilege to approach him and knock at His door anytime, night or day.
- What can we say about the three men and their friendship in this parable?
- Is Jesus comparing God to the reluctant friend or the rude judge? Why use these characters?
- What is Jesus trying to teach His Disciples through these parables?
- How can we apply this Parable in our situation?