And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:5-13)
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus teaches about prayer, and he describes the image of a man who persistently asks his friend or neighbor for food, knocking on his door in the middle of the night. Jesus says, I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence (Luke 11:8).
The image is akin to a child who keeps asking her parents for ice cream. Jesus goes on: And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (11:9-10).
The imagery is especially appropriate because we are God’s children. That’s a given, a reality, before we even open our mouths and before we ever offer our coins or make a selection. The relationship already exists. That’s how Jesus begins his teaching. Prayer is about relationship and presence. We’re not telling God something that God does not know. We are reminding ourselves of what already is, always has been, and always will be.
That relationship means that our life, our existence, our very being, comes from our Father. We are too often convinced that we are or must be independent and self-sufficient. Prayer reminds us that we are inter- dependent. We ask each day for our daily bread. That does not mean we are deficient but that our sufficiency comes not from ourselves but from God. It means that God sustains and nourishes our life. That’s another way of talking about relationship and presence. Those lines about forgiveness, ours and others? Again, that’s about relationship and presence, with God and each other.
If prayer, as Jesus teaches it, really is all about relationship and presence then there is only one answer to every prayer. God. I don’t just mean God answers our prayer but that God is the answer; God’s presence, life, love, beauty, generosity, compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, justice, mercy.
Prayer brings us into a closer communion with God. The more we pray, the more we link ourselves to Him. The more we pray, the more we become conscious of our relationship with others. The more we pray, the more we allow ourselves to be open to the power of the Holy Spirit. If that is not enough, I am not sure what else could be.
Prayer of The Day
Heavenly Father, you are merciful, gracious and kind. May I never doubt your mercy and love nor hesitate to seek you with confident trust in order to obtain the gifts, graces, and daily provision I need to live as your beloved child and constant friend.
Jesus states very clearly and simply what we must do: Ask, seek, knock. God our heavenly Father waits upon us. Like a good friend who comes in the middle of the night, he is always ready to hear our plea and to give us what we need. Do you ask the Father with expectant faith and confident trust in his goodness? Do you seek his guidance and help in your time of need? Do you knock with persistence at his door of mercy and favor? If we treat our heavenly Father with indifference or neglect to ask with confident trust, we may miss the opportunity we have been given to receive his grace and favor and merciful help.