Jesus paints a picture of persistence in prayer with a dad being miffed to being woken up at midnight by a friend! As Tom Wright puts it “there are all sorts of ways God isn’t like a sleepy friend, but Jesus is foccusing on one point of comparison only: he is encouraging a kind of holy boldness, a sharp knocking on the door, an insistent asking, a search that refuses to give up” (Luke for Everyone*)
Firstly there is the picture of God as a friend, in bed and asleep, with his children around him! Jesus is picturing the kind of house, where the whole family sleeps side by side on the floor, so if the Father is woken, the whole family is woken.
The friend has a problem and the sleeping friend can and will help him. Ancient Middle East hospitality meant if a traveller needed food and shelter, it would be provided. The friend in need knows the friend in bed will understand and provide and do the same if roles were reversed.
Persistence gets it. The Lord wants us to be passionate and persistent in our prayer. Not routine and formal, going through the motions – we are in a battle and we need to call on God for peace, wisdom, for a thousand things for our family, friends, church and nation!
Jesus gave what we call the Lord’s prayer, but really it is the disciples prayer! Luke tells us what to say, Matthew’s version tells us to “pray like this”. I’ve always seen it as a helpful set of headings, a skeleton to flesh out our prayers
- Father – celebrate intimacy with God through Jesus and the Spirit
- Hallowed be your name – Pray round God’s names for they describe his nature
- Your kingdom come (Matthew’s version!) – pray for the growth of the kingdom in you, your family, church, nation, nations
- Give us each day – pray for your needs
- Forgive us our sins – You are justified, legally forgiven of all sin past, present and future. You will never be separated from God or condemned for your sin (Rom 8:1). But if you are aware of anything that you’ve done, said or thought that would grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30) confess it and Jesus will cleanse it (1 John 1:9)
- Forgive others who have harmed you
- And lead us not into temptation – thank God he always provides a way out (1 Cor 10:13), ask Him to help you kill off sin.