He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”Something about this picture spoke to me of prayer.
And so Jesus says, Let me tell you a story… A man goes to his friend’s house late at night. But his friend yells out the window, “go away. I’ve put the kids to bed already.”
The man persists saying, “I really need your help. My family just arrived from far away and I don’t have anything to feed them. Please help.” The friend insists it’s late, come tomorrow. (what a jerk, right?!) Eventually the friend gives in and helps the guy. That’s like prayer.
Can you see the disciples squinting in their misunderstanding? Sort of shaking their head… so God is a jerk but if we persist, God gives in? Are we the jerk? Are we supposed to help one another? I don’t really understand Jesus.
No, No… God isn’t a jerk. We have a wrong picture of God. God’s not like us. Even in the middle of the night. No matter what we ask for, God will most certainly give us the Holy Spirit.
Wait a minute Jesus… what if we asked for food (like the guy in the story), God still gives the Holy Spirit?
That’s right, the Holy Spirit. The answer to our request is the Holy Spirit. We need healing… we get the Holy Spirit. We need food… the Holy Spirit. We need patience… the Holy Spirit. But I didn’t ask for the Holy Spirit... But that’s what you get. The Holy Spirit is the conduit. The Spirit is how God gets stuff done.
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