In Luke 11, while Christ was teaching his disciples about how to pray, he followed the Lord’s prayer with an interesting parable and lesson in verses 5-10:
5 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;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Four things jump out at me in this parable immediately: (1) The man making the plea must have been so close to his friends that he was available to take one friend in at anytime and knew he could run to the other friend for help anytime; (2) The man made a major, but unselfish, request; (3) The unselfish request was made at a most inconvenient time; (4) The request was answered for an unexpected reason.
Then Jesus gives us verses 9 and 10 as both a comparison and a contrast to how the relationship between the friends worked. Our relationship with the Lord should be so close that our friends feel comfortable enough to look to us for some accommodation at the most inconvenient times, if need be. Then we in turn should feel comfortable enough with the Lord to approach him with major requests without consideration of what time it is.
As the giver in the parable hesitated to immediately grant the requester’s wishes for his own reasons, God may hesitate to immediately grant our requests for his own reasons–perhaps because he may be waiting for some other thing to fall into place before he answers in order to make a more effective impact with the answer. There may also be hesitation on God’s part to help us expand our patience. Whatever the reason may be, he will always have what’s best for us and what’s best for his glory in mind, unlike the giver in this parable who was only thinking about how to send his friend away because of the importunity, or his friend’s annoying persistence.
The hesitation of the giver and his initial answer to the requester also conveys the idea that the Lord may not initially answer us in the time frame or manner we assumed he would. Nevertheless, despite the fact we may have to wait and wait in some instances, Christ encourages us to be persistent, to keep on making requests, because he will eventually grant us our request, provided that it is within the bounds of his will. A granted request is most likely to take place when the request is for unselfish reasons to genuinely benefit others (James 4:2-3), especially in cases where spiritual growth will be the ultimate result.
When requests are finally granted, what a relief and encouragement it is knowing that the King of kings and Lord of lords confirms that he is truly our friend and cares enough about us to listen to us.