5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”Luke 11:5-13 (NIV)
In the past, when reading the above parables, I thought it was about persistence in prayer and the generosity of the Father. I was focused on myself. Reading these verses recently, I was struck by the fact that the friend in the night was asking for food for his guest, not for himself.
Could it be that Jesus was encouraging us to pray for others with shameless audacity? This would support the view some hold that intercessory prayer is especially effective, perhaps because it is more unselfish than prayers for our own needs.
As I mused over my new insight, something else hit me; the friend asked his neighbor to give the bread into his hands to give to the guest, rather than giving it directly to the house guest. Could this mean that our prayers for others should include the request that God give to us the means to alleviate the needs for which we pray?
God knows how to give His children good gifts, indeed, and one of the best gifts is the ability to help others.
Here’s a thought: The next time you find yourself praying for others, rather than putting the need before God and walking away, ask the Lord to use you to fill the need and to give you the wherewithal to do it.