Read Luke 11:5-8
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. (NLT)
At first glance, this saying of Jesus seems to suggest that if we go on nagging God long enough he will eventually respond to our prayers. Since this doesn’t fit in at all with our attentive Father in heaven, we need to dig deeper.
The answer lies in the culture of the time. If a friend required hospitality, whatever the hour, you were obliged to offer it. The request for loaves of bread arises out of sheer necessity. They had to be provided. And if the neighbour was the only source of such bread, you had to approach the neighbour. There was no alternative.
So the point is not that we have to go on and on demanding an answer. The point is that we are compelled to pray because we utterly depend on the grace of God to sustain our life journey. There is no alternative. Prayer is not an optional extra but an overriding necessity.
And as Jesus goes on to say, our God is not like some slumbering neighbour, grudgingly giving us things because we keep at him about them. Jesus’ point here is that if such a grumpy neighbour responds to desperate requests, how much more will our Father God? Not because we tirelessly nag him, but because we desperately need him.