In Luke’s account of Jesus’ earthly ministry, his story-lesson (parable) about persistence was prefaced with a review of a portion of a rabbinic prayer taught to his disciples, commonly known in various church cultures as the Lord’s Prayer, The Our Father.

The verb tenses in the Lord’s Prayer are declarative. The verbs we are to use are not begging nor beseeching. It snatches divine reality and puts it front and center.

Then Jesus waxes eloquent with his story-lesson to his devoted students(NRSV, verses 5-8):

Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

Frederick Houk Borsch in his book Many Things in Parables; Extravegant Stories of New Community (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1988, 116) wrote

In Palestine at that time the householder would have been sleeping on a mat in a one-room building with his family about him. The work of unlocking the door (probably drawing a bar from between two rings fixed to the doors) would have been somewhat cumbersome and noisy–waking the children. One notices that he does not reply, “Friend,” in return!

The future is pregnant with possibility. A persistent neighbour is just as noisy as any lock, changing the parameters of choices and what is timely to act on the decision-maker neighbour’s part.

Pray always, and do not lose heart. God vindicates the elect who cry to him day and night. Our faith requires diligence with a declarative boldness, a settled certainty in our hearts.

Jesus wasn’t finished. He continued

So I say to you, Ask and it will be given you, search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Those who ask, seek, and knock will receive, find, and have it opened to them. The petitioner had a lack of shame for bothering his neighbour. Persistence, relying in a friendship to win out, and importunity are characteristics of this late night request.

We give up too quickly. Do we really know we are friends with the Divine?

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