Strange, isn't it? Jesus compares himself to Mr. Lazy-Bones!
“Teach us to pray…” Interesting question from Jesus's followers. I figured if anyone knew how to pray, the disciples would know. Actually, I would have assumed people in Palestine would be asking THEM about prayer. What a great question to ask God. Volumes of books have been written about prayer. Luke records more about Jesus and prayer than any other Gospel. According to Michael Card’s commentary on Luke, “…nothing in Luke happens apart from prayer.” Good reminder for me.
Jesus tells a rather odd parable comparing himself to the annoying character in his story. Sometimes he represents truth with a rather unappealing person. So creative. Gets us thinking.
It’s the middle of the night and a man has a friend come through town last minute. So the owner of the house runs to his neighbor and knocks on the door, “Can you give me some bread?? A friends just showed up! I have nothing!”
The neighbor was annoyed. He had been in bed, asleep; his kids were asleep. He was too lazy to get up.
"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.’ 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."
If we don't dig a little deeper into the meaning of this parable, we will misinterpret it. Michael Card explains two ways to read this story. Often the less accurate interpretation is the one we apply to this parable. “Because of his persistence,”as it's typically translated, is often thought to describe the man asking and knocking. This would be us, the ones who are praying over and over about our desperate things. But the phrase seems to apply, instead, to the man who was awoken. The one who was annoyed. The Jews in that day were highly concerned with reputation. To be known as hospitable was a priority; they were committed to it. The word "shameless audacity" relates to the idea of guarding that reputation; in other words, being “shameless.” Embarrassing shame would cover the man if he ignored a request for help. So though he didn't want to, he got up in the night because he was devoted to doing the right and good thing; he was obedient to his values.
Jesus aligns himself with this man in the story. He is making a point: if lazy bones (that's the translation from the Greek...wink, wink) doesn’t want to get up, but still gets up because of his reputation, how much more will God the Father care for you in your need? If one is inherently selfish and sinful and he still gets up, what would the pure heart of the Father look like in this situation? God is not requiring me to pray "just so,"or with such-and-such attitude, or exact words, or the right posture...I am praying to a God who keeps His word, who loves His children, and will always do the right thing. He cannot do otherwise.
So when it seems he is silent or ignoring you, like he has forgotten you, or doesn't actually hear you when you pray, or worse, doesn't care...re-read how Luke ends this parable:
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Sometimes the gift he gives is one we need far more than the one we are asking for. He knows our true need, and he stakes his reputation on it.