And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. (
It has been said, “There is much we can do after we pray, but nothing we can do until we pray.” It is true. Apart from God’s activity what we accomplish is doomed to fail. Jesus warned, “without Me you can do nothing.” (
15:5b) Still, we try, don’t
we? The modern church has functioned
without the power of God for so long, that the Holy Spirit could be withdrawn
and it is unlikely we would notice. That
is to our shame and the great loss to those who need the Gospel.
As the Lord was instructing His disciples on how to pray, He shares with them this parable about a hungry friend. The man arrives after midnight—hungry—and the host has no bread. Middle-eastern customs of hospitality, however, demanded that he provide bread. They had no 24/7 convenience stores in those days, so his only option was to go next door to his neighbor and seek to secure some.
The physical condition of the traveler mirrors the spiritual state of the sinner. He or she has a heart hunger, but has no means to satisfy it. Not that people don’t try! They gorge themselves with all this world can offer—and may find it sweet for the moment—but, ultimately, what they are ingesting is poison. The hunger—that is really a hunger for God—remains unsatisfied, and even intensified. Some will make it to the church in their quest. How many churches really have anything to give them?
Thankfully, the man in this story realized his own poverty to provide and sought help from another. The neighbor didn’t want to be disturbed, but finally realizes that if he doesn’t get up, go to the door, and give his neighbor some bread, he is never going to get any rest.
The point of the parable is that we must pray with persistence. Those who seek the Lord fervently and faithfully are those who will have something to share with a hungry world. The good news is that God is nothing like the neighbor. He is never asleep. He is eager to answer. If a sleepy neighbor will finally respond, how much more should we expect God to answer our prayers!
It is time for the church to wake up, realize the emptiness of our activities, and seek the activity of God! We advertise that we are a bakery with “The Bread of Life,” and yet people are dying around us in despair for our cupboard is bare! Child of God, this need not be! Let us urgently cry out to God today, for a hungry world awaits.