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Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
Even the most nurturing parents would be excused for feeling exhausted by the seemingly constant needs of their children. Who hasn’t wilted at the sound of another loud “Mom!” echoing through the house, signaling a youngster is in need of help. Again. The work of taking care of children can be overwhelming. And yet even harried parents meet the needs of their children, however imperfectly. How much more able and willing is God—a Father who is never tired and is perfectly good—to meet our needs?
Today’s passage answers this question by telling the story of a midnight visitor who asked a neighbor for help in the middle of the night. Despite the inconvenience, the neighbor obliged. This story used to be described as the power of persistent petition, and persistence became the frame for understanding the following verses: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (v. 9). Some interpreters came close to asserting that repetition is required to get God’s attention.
Greek scholars have revised their understanding of the word anaideia in verse 8: “yet because of your anaideia he will surely get up and give you as much as you need”—recasting it as shamelessness, not persistence. Indeed, the midnight visitor makes his request only once.
Jesus’ parable is a powerful argument that God—even more than this neighbor—can be depended on to hear our prayers promptly and to respond freely. Unlike the midnight visitor who is considered shameless in the eyes of his neighbor, we need never feel bashful or embarrassed about bringing our cares and concerns to the Lord in prayer. We are His children, and His capacity for compassion and attention are boundless.
Apply the Word
Despite the fact that God assures us He is listening and cares about our needs, we don’t always see the response we think we need. Thank the Lord today for His desire to give good gifts and pray for discernment, that your own desires would continue to grow in alignment with His mysterious yet perfect will.
Pray with Us
Steven Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating officer, welcomes your prayer support, as he helps maximize the efficiency of Moody’s operations. Ask for the Lord’s guidance in all his decisions and initiatives.