“Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.” 7 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.” 8 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.
9 ‘So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:5-10
One of Jesus’s disciples had asked him to teach them to pray. This is how he answers. I’m guessing Jesus knows that sometimes it feels shamelessly audacious to think that we could speak directly to God and ask him for anything. Some people never brave being shamelessly audacious, and they convince themselves that they are to meekly be happy with their lot whatever that is, not to pray for limitations to be overcome, and their lives get smaller and smaller.
Thankfully, of course, God is divinely wise in how he responds. According to Jesus God wants us to request; wants us to voice our wants and needs, but in his wisdom does not always just do exactly what we ask for. Often he will answer indirectly, and we may need discerning hindsight to see that the thing we wanted that was underlying our request, is what he actually answered. Good human parents are like this too: saying ‘yes’ to the good requests, ‘no’ to the ones asking for challenges and growth opportunities to be entirely avoided.
Thank goodness, for example, it didn’t work out with those crushes of my teenage years and twenties, because the man I did marry is the right one for me!
We can assume that if we pay attention to God’s answers, and we learn his ways, and learn to follow Jesus, that our requests will start to look like the sort of requests to which God loves to say yes. Our wiser prayers might be ‘help me overcome this challenge’, instead of ‘please make that person not be in my group any more’.
I love this famous promise, that everyone who seeks finds. I used to be merely a Sunday Christian in at least one important way. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to pray about things that troubled me in my earlier years. I was a churchgoer, but now that I think about it, I can’t remember praying anything outside of set prayers like the Lord’s Prayer, until maybe university years, after I was challenged about whether I actually believed whether Jesus was God’s son, God’s presence on earth. I probably did pray such prayers – but they certainly didn’t feature largely in my life. I wonder whether I would have faced challenges with greater boldness if I had talked them over with God.
Jesus is very clear in this passage, God wants to hear from us. He seems to really enjoy communicating with his sons and daughters. It’s almost as if he is lovingly attached to us, not a distant impersonal being! Someone fix that flux capacitor, there’s someone I want to tell.