Never give up.....never? No, Never! At least that is what is taught in the Gospel lesson for this next Sunday from Luke 11. Jesus tells a story about a man who has gone to bed with his kids. He finally got everyone quiet and has settle down for a well deserved rest when he hears a knock on his door. He goes downstairs to answer the door and sees a friend there asking to borrow some bread. At this time of the night? You have got to be kidding! The man tries to send his friend away without any bread telling him that this is not an opportune time but the friend will not give up. He is insistent, saying he must have bread and he does not care about the time of day.
Jesus' conclusion to the story is that "at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs." In other words, it's the old "squeaky wheel gets the grease" routine. If you ask, you will receive. If you never ask, then your chance of receiving is small because others do not know what you need. This passage contains the familiar admonition--"Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." Jesus then goes on to say how much God wants to give to God's children simply because of the love God has for them.
So, the main idea is--"Do not give up! Keep on asking! Keep on praying!" This story follows Jesus' teaching of what we call The Lord's Prayer, something many of us say every Sunday during prayer time. It is called The Lord's Prayer because The Lord taught his disciples this way to pray. That prayer contains every petition that is needed for life--praise to God, bread for life, forgiveness of sins for ourselves and others, and a request for freedom from temptation. We also pray that God's Will would be done on earth even as it is done in heaven so that we would be open to what God would have for our lives because we often do not know what is best for life.
So, we pray with our finite understanding of what is best for us and others and we open the door to God's grace working within us in ways we cannot understand. We pray for others to be healed. We pray for mercy and forgiveness because we know we are not perfect people. We pray that God's Will would be done in ways we cannot imagine even if that should be different from our own wills and requests.
To provide for a neighbor in the middle of the night required patience and grace and understanding. The friend who asked for the bread in the story would have suffered great embarrassment and social shame if he had not had something to provide for someone who dropped in to see him. Since the friend did not have bread to offer the visitor, then finding it nearby was the next best solution. Even if it was late and the one being asked for the favor was being put upon, the need still existed and had to be solved. So, the friend would not give up. He had a need and had to find a solution.
He sounds rather desperate, doesn't he? Sometimes we are desperate too when we pray. We have needs and they will not go away. We want answers to problems that plague us. We need solutions. So, we pray, but often we pray only once or twice and then stop or forget. I think this story is teaching to pray and not give up. Pray that God's Will would be done and pray for what you need because God wants to bless God's children in the same way that a loving parent want to bless a child. God will provide what is needed for each prayer that is prayed....but what we receive may not be what we thought we really needed. The answer is granted according to God's Will for our lives and the lives of others...and it may not be what we think is best, but what God determines to be best. But....keep on praying and trusting and know that God will answer.