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Reading: Luke 11.5-13
Jesus 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 to 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!’
Yesterday’s reading recalled the moment when Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer which famously open with the words: Our Father. That opening remind us that God is the divine father of the whole of humanity; God is father to all who he created in his own image. Today we are being invited to look at our relationship with God from a different angle. Today we are seeing God as Our Friend. As we continue to reflect on the perfect fatherhood of God, Our Father, we now add the model of perfect friendship that we can see in God’s relationship with the totality of humanity.
In the ancient Middle East there were strict rules of hospitality. The traveller in need of food and shelter always knew that it could be found. No matter how inconvenient the time or circumstances, the friend in need could always be certain of the support of friends, even if it was in the middle of the night. And, of course, the friend in bed could be certain of similar support, should the roles become reversed.
Yesterday, as we considered the Lord’s Prayer, we pondered on Jesus’ response to the plea: teach us to pray. Today we are not only being urged to pray, we are being told that we must be persistent in that prayer. Too many of us fall into the trap of ‘formal’ prayer that only happens in church and at set times of the day, or week, or month, or year! But … that is not how we should pray. We should be in a constant dialogue of prayer with God, our Father and our Friend.
When we have exciting news, or when we are bowed down in grief and fear we like to talk our problems through with our friends, with those who are closest to us and who we know we can trust. Too often, God is not on that list of confidantes. We wrap up our conversations with God in such formality that we lose the intimacy of friendly conversation.
Then, of course, comes that persistence in prayer. Our earthly friends can so quickly and so easily become bored and disinterested in our problems. God, our divine friend, never does. God urges us to ask, to search and to knock. God wants us to keep on talking to him until we find the peace that only he can give. And, God really does not mind if that conversation is in the middle of the night.
God is our Father, and God is our Friend. Let us take everything to him in persistent prayer. In that way we will come to fully understand and feel the love of God in our lives.