LIVING LIKE JESUS: The Gospel of Luke—Week 11
Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8
We are continuing our study of the last of the spiritual practices of Jesus: prayer. This week we will be looking at two parables Jesus tells about prayer and what these parables teach us about the power of persistent prayer and the heart of God.
To understand the first parable, it is important to understand the cultural expectations placed on friendship and hospitality in the Greco-Roman world. The term “friend” carried a much deeper meaning and sense of responsibility at this time. If someone was considered your friend, then everything you owned was placed at their disposal. It was inconceivable that one would deny the request of a friend in need, no matter the inconvenience. Additionally, it was equally inconceivable that the friend knocking at the door would have been so ill-prepared for the arrival of his friend and request nothing more than 3 loaves to offer to him. Thus, we can glean three truths about God’s heart towards our prayers:
- God calls us “friend.” Knowing full well the expectations such a term places on him, Jesus elevates the level of our relationship to friendship. He puts everything he is and has at our disposal, and he promises to always open the door when we knock. (Jn. 15:15)
- God’s friendship and generosity are not based on our worthiness. Clearly, the impudent friend is not worthy of the generosity shown to him. He is a bad host to his guest, and he has no qualms taking advantage of the generosity of his friend, even in the dead of night. In the same way, God’s generosity to us is not based on our inherent goodness and friendship. It is based solely on his good character and unfailing love. He answers prayer because of who he is, not because of what we do. (2 Tim. 2:13)
- God’s generosity exceeds what we can even dare or imagine asking. In this parable, the unworthy friend can only bring himself to ask for 3 loaves. The generous friend knows this is not enough, and he gives him whatever he needs to fulfill his obligations as a friend and host. So often we are too easily satisfied with our requests. In contrast, God’s generosity is exceedingly abundantly above what we can even imagine. (Eph. 3:20)
In the second parable, Jesus encourages us to not lose heart. We live in a digital age where so many things are available to us at the push of a button, and because of that, we have become increasingly impatient. We want what we want when we want, and if we don’t get it on our time schedule, we become frustrated and disheartened. In this parable Jesus reminds us that if an evil judge will grant the requests of a persistent widow, how much more so will a good and loving God grant good things to his children. Jesus, more than anyone, understands the injustice of this world. He wants his Church to remain encouraged and persist in the face of adversity. He wants his Church to be a beacon of hope in the face of injustice and to never cease from praying for God’s kingdom to come. Jesus wants us to never be satisfied with something less than God’s best for us and our world. Instead, we should beat the unjust enemy into submission with the persistence of our prayer (2 Peter 3:8-13).
- What are the ramifications of Jesus calling us “friend” in the context of prayer? How might this change our expectations when it comes to prayer?
- How might the fact that our worthiness is not taken into consideration impact our prayers?
- Have you ever been discouraged in prayer? If so, why? What does the parable of the persistent widow teach us about prayer when we are discouraged?