Author: Ron Graham
The God Who Cares and Answers Prayers
—Parables about his compassion
This lesson looks at two more parables that teach us of the goodness and compassion of God.
The parables of the Friends at Midnight and the Persistent Widow illustrate theme 1 of the parables, namely how good and kind God is. These parables show that we need to seek his grace (Luke 18:1-8).
The parables of the Friends at Midnight and the Persistent Widow are interesting because Jesus illustrates God's kindness with stories of people who are reluctant and slow to help! Jesus tells of a friend who is tucked up in bed and doesn't want to be disturbed. Jesus also tells of an unrighteous judge who finally gives a widow what she wants —only to stop her pestering him.
Of course Jesus does not mean that God is thus. Jesus is making a contrast. These reluctant and selfish ones are opposite in character to God. If they could be persuaded to answer a plea, how much more will our loving and willing heavenly Father answer our prayers! Therefore we should keep on asking of him, and seeking him, for he will not turn us away. That is what Jesus is illustrating.
1 The Friends at Midnight
¶“5Then Jesus said to them: Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, please lend me three loaves of bread 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to set before him.' 7And suppose the one inside answers, 'Don't trouble me. I've already locked the door, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, even though he won't get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless persistence he will surely get up and give you as much as you need” (Luke 11:5-8).
These verses (Luke 11:5-8) tell the parable. It is a simple scenario. A friend knocks on the door at midnight. The house is shut up and the family bedded down. It takes a bit of convincing to get the man out of bed to help his friend. He does not do it because the one at the door is his friend, or because the cause is genuine. He helps his friend only to be rid of him, and to get back to sleep!
¶“9So I tell you this: Continue asking and it will be given to you; continue seeking and you will find; continue knocking and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door opens. 11Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? 13If you who 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 11:9-13).
These verses (Luke 11:9-13) explain the point Jesus is making, and another little parable make it very clear. God is no reluctant friend, but a loving Father. He is more than willing to give good things to those who seek him and ask of him. He will even give us his Spirit, who seals and sanctifies us for an unimaginably great and eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 3:20-21).
2 The Persistent Widow
¶“1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up” (Luke 18:1).
This verse (Luke 18:1) shows the lesson of this parable "that at all times people ought to pray and not lose heart". God is most high, yet he is merciful and kind. He will listen to our prayers and our pleadings, and answer them. So we should keep on praying and never give up on God.
¶“2Jesus said: There was a town which had a judge who didn't fear God. Nor did he have due regard for people. 3There was also a widow in that town who kept coming to him to plead, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 4For a while he refused her. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God and even though I don't have due regard for people, 5nevertheless because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice. That way she won't come back to trouble me endlessly!'” (Luke 18:2-5).
These verses (Luke 18:2-5) illustrate that even an unrighteous judge will hear the pleas of one who persists in asking. He may have done so out of annoyance or cunning, and not out of kindness, yet he answered the repeated request. His attitude was not very worthy: "Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her what she asks lest she wear me out". Jesus tells us to listen to what this unjust judge said, because Jesus is going to use it to make a point.
¶“66And the Lord said: Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And shall God not bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:6-7).
These verses (Luke 18:6-7) give Jesus’s own application of the parable. We have heard what the unjust judge said. Now consider that by contrast God is perfectly just, and he has a regard for man (because he is our creator and Father). So if an unjust judge answered a widow’s plea, surely God will answer the prayers of his chosen ones, won't he? And God is not going to be reluctant to answer, is he? "He will bring about justice for them speedily".
¶“8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
This verse (Luke 18:8) shows why the lesson of the parable is important. It may seem to us that God is not answering quickly, and that the Lord’s coming has been long delayed, in spite of his teaching that he will come quickly and will not delay. So our faith weakens—but it shouldn't. Jesus asks, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?".
The God Who Cares.
The many gods that people believe in are not known for their caring nature. They are fickle, unkind, and unjust. However the true God is gracious and loving. He helps those who draw near to him and listen to his word.
God knows "Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:7-8).
God hears "The cry of [the oppressed and mistreated] has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts" (James 5:1-5).
God remembers "You have taken account of my wanderings, put my tears in your bottle; are they not in your book?" (Psalms 56:8).
God cares "Cast all your cares upon him, because he cares for you" (1Peter 5:6-11).
God answers "Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God..." (Philippians 4:4-7).
1. What did the friend at midnight and the widow have in common?
2. Was Jesus illustrating God’s reluctance to give?
3. What do people need to do if they want gifts from God?
4. Do these parables teach that God oils the squeaky wheels?
5. What is the theme of the two parables in this lesson?