Eyes snapping open in the moonlight, Kennedy groggily strained at the silence. There was another rap from the front door. "Whaat?" he whispered to his wide-eyed wife. "Who could it be at this hour?" Creeping to the window, he peered down, recognizing his neighbor. Nelson had likewise seen him, so he hurled down a throaty whisper: "Nelson! Are you crazy? What do you want?"
"I'm sorry. Friend from university dropped in with his family. We're completely out of bread. Could you lend me some?" His voice was low, soothing... but determined.
"Bread? You must be kidding me. We're in bed for the night. It would wake the babies!" (Even now, he was trying to think of a way to throw something at Nelson without waking them.)
"Kennedy, they're leaving for an early flight. I won't have time to go to the market!" Again, Nelson sounded confident that his neighbor would come around and give him what he needed.
"Don't you have anything??" Kennedy himself was now less sure he was going to be able to put this off.
"I was going to go in the morning. The house is almost empty of food. Come on, Kennedy!"
Would you expect Jesus to choose a story like this one in Luke 11:5-9 to picture prayer? It seems irreverent to make Kennedy a picture of God. Even Nelson hardly works as a humble worshiper.
But this was the story Jesus told when His disciples asked Him to teach them prayer.
"Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you" (Luke 11:9)
Jesus wanted this story to be memorable. God wants us to see Him as the source of our daily bread. Luke 11:3 Yes, He wants us to know He's different from a sullen neighbor! But He also wants us to remember that the one who knocked received because he just wouldn't be shamed into giving up! That's important; because when we pray, it's so easy for us to be shamed into giving up:
"I have no right to ask for this."
"God is holding some kind of grudge against me."
"God is good - I should just settle for whatever He wants to give me."
God is not "bothered" by your requests. He wants your heart—more than you want your request.
But here's one way He's like the awakened neighbor: He is willing to make you wait a little for what you want. It's more important to Him that you begin to want Him more than the things He can provide for you. God is like a good Father. You can trust Him not to deny you anything you need (Psalm 84:11, Matthew 6:31-34, Romans 8:32) or give you something bad as a substitute. Luke 11:11-13 But He wants to be first.
Is that how you picture the God who hears your prayers? Or has He seemed more like the impatient Kennedy? Or some other father-figure? Maybe a new picture of God will help your prayer life.
Try this: Look to Jesus for the clearest picture of what God is like: "No one has ever seen God. But God the only Son is very close to the Father, and he has shown us what God is like." John 1:18
Then: Remember each day to read more from the story of Jesus before you pray. God will be at work renewing your picture of who He is.
Share: Would you then share what you discover with us in the Comments below? We want to hear about God's work in your life and rejoice with you!