I am always moved by the parable of three friends narrated by Jesus. He told his disciples this parable just after he had taught them about how to pray. It tells me a lot of things about prayers.
The parable about three friends
“He said to them, 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 an dgive you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8)
This parable talks about three friends. Let us name them (1) the householder who went to his friend asking for bread, (2) the visitor friend and (3) the helping friend to whom our household friend goes and asks for help.
The incident takes place in the late night. Our visitor goes to his helping friend at an odd hour. The circumstances are quite against any hope. But still the real necessity, the persistent request and the unshakable trust of our household friend wakes up the sleeping friend and fulfills his request “whatever he needed”.
The household friend
Every one of us is the householder friend. We approach our helping friend in order to feed our visitor friend. Every one of our neighbors is the visiting friend. The friend who is sleeping inside is symbolic of God who hears and grants our prayers. In helping others we are expected to be ready at any time. Time and space cannot be barriers for real love. We just practice the important command our Lord, “love your neighbor” through following this parable. This parable narrates the sharing love of true friends. Prayer is never something to finish off and done away with. It is manifested in deeds of love.
Our householder friend shows us how we should pray. The person knocking the door at the dead of night is our model here. It is a continuous knocking with the conviction that the person inside is one who loves him and ultimately would do whatever he wants, in spit of temporary excuses. This friendship has been built upon the rock of trust and hope.
The visiting friend
This part refers to all our neighbors. Every person, either in our house or outside, is our visiting friend. We have to love him and help him. This refers to our helping others and praying for them.
The helping friend
Jesus, through this parable, states that God is our Friend. This invites us to look at God as our friend. Though God may show reluctance for sometime He will surely hear our prayers. Jesus emphasizes this through this parable as well as so many other parables and words. He promises that our faithful prayers will be heard. We should be insistent in our prayers and they should be based on real love towards others. St. James makes it obvious that prayers with selfish motive will not be answered by God (James 4: 2-3)
This parable is pregnant with deeper meanings than what I have stated above. It is an assurance to the unfailing help and love of God. This parable further convinces us that the “Friend” does not stop with just “three loaves of bread” but it is a promise of giving “whatever we want”.