Summary: Jesus is teaching about prayer and this parable is meant as an illustration and as insight into prayer. Jesus teaches us two lessons in regards to prayer in this passage. First, we must be persistent in prayer. Second, we may be the answer to prayer.
PARABLE OF THE FRIEND IN NEED
I read a story once, and I do not remember where I read it, about a small Oklahoma town that had two churches and one distillery. Members of both churches complained that the distillery was giving the community a bad image. And to make matters worse the owner of the distillery was an out spoken atheist. He didn’t believe in God one bit. The church people had tried unsuccessfully for years to shut down the distillery. So finally they decided to hold a joint Saturday night prayer meeting. They were going to ask God to intervene and settle the matter.
The church folks gathered on Saturday night and there was a horrible thunderstorm raging outside and to the delight of the church members lightening hit that old brewery and it burned to the ground. The next morning the sermons that were preached in both churches were on the power of prayer. But the insurance adjusters promptly notified the distillery owner that they were not going to pay for the damages because the fire was an act of God and that was an exclusion in the policy. The distillery owner was furious and he sued both churches claiming that they had conspired with God to destroy his business. But the churches denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire.
The presiding judge opened the trial with words like this: "I find one thing in this cause most perplexing-we have a situation here where the plaintiff, an atheist is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants all faithful church members are denying the very same power."
We find in the passage that we are going to look at today that Jesus is teaching His disciples about prayer. In fact, verse 1 tells us that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They wanted to learn from their teacher as John the Baptist had taught his disciples. The Gospels record for us over and over that Jesus Himself prayed daily and it was His practice to go out early in the morning and pray. They wanted the Master to teach them to pray. Jesus provides for them the model prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer. He showed them that prayer should be respectful of God and yet very personal. He showed them that prayer should be full of thanksgiving and yet with requests. He showed them that prayer is asking for forgiveness of sins and also asking to resist sin. All of these different elements are part of Jesus’ prayer... but He does not stop His teaching there. He continues with a parable.
READ LUKE 11:5-13
As we look at this simple parable, it seems to be a story about neighbors and the need to borrow. And that certainly is what the story is about on the surface. Jesus’ story tells of crowded cottage life in His day. Bread was always baked in the morning and so if the day’s supply ran out, borrowing was the practice. The east doors of homes were usually open during the day and shut at night. Knocking on a shut door meant that it was an extreme emergency. Many people in Jesus’ day traveled at night to avoid the heat and so to have guests arrive at night was not odd (Ash, Living Word Commentary: Luke Part II, page 25). One neighbor had guests arrive and there was no bread. So what do you do? You borrow and ask your neighbor. Jesus tells in the story that the neighbor did not want to rise and wake his family, but did eventually get up and provide for his neighbor. That’s human nature.