5-6 Then He said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ 7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 “But let Me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. 9 “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
In the first parable, a man has an unexpected guest arrive at his home, and he is without bread to give to him. Even though it is midnight, he goes to the house of a friend to ask to borrow bread. His friend is already in bed. He would have quickly given the bread if it were not so late, and if it would not disturb the whole house. But even though man in bed protests, the man in need boldly (the text literally says “shamelessly”) persisted, which prompted his friend to get up, open the door, and give him what he was seeking.
If this man’s request was granted, due to his persistence, even though it was most inconvenient, then persistence in seeking what one truly needs must pay off. By persistently knocking, the door had been opened to him; by boldly asking, he got what he asked for. He sought and he found what he was seeking. Consistent, persistent prayer, daily prayer, is to be motivated by the assurance that if a friend will give what is sought, even if inconvenient, then God will surely answer our petitions.
10-13 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask Him?”
In the second story, Jesus uses the imagery of a father. He had instructed His disciples to pray to God as their Father. He now picks up on the theme of God as Father in His second illustration. Earthly fathers love their children and delight in giving good gifts to them. Human fathers do not give their children “bad” things when they have asked for something good. Fish and eggs are both helpful. They strengthen the physical body. Snakes and scorpions are both harmful to the physical body. God, as a Heavenly Father, does not give us those things that will be harmful to us when we have asked for those things which are beneficial to us.
Too often, we ask God for snakes and scorpions, rather than for fish and eggs. We are often inclined toward things which are detrimental to our spiritual lives. In such cases, we may ask for a snake, but God gives us a fish. We may wish for a scorpion, but God gives us eggs. If God does not give us evil gifts when we ask for the good, He does give us good gifts even when we seek those which are harmful to us.
Because God is a good God, a loving Father, He can not only be expected to answer our petitions, but to do so in a way that is for our highest good. From our Lord’s first story we learn that God answers our prayers. From the second, we learn that His answers are good ones. The highest good that God gives to His disciples who petition Him in prayer is summed up in the gift of the Holy Spirit. What better gift could our Lord give to His disciples.