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DOES GOD ENJOY NAGGING?
"Then He said, 'Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend travelling through just showed up and I don't have a thing on hand...'" Luke 11:5-10 (The Message)
Jesus concludes His teaching on prayer with a little story which, at first, seems to have little to do with what He has just taught about prayer. What is He getting at? Is it about prayer and relationship? Is it about prayer and persistence? Why would one need to nag God about what He knows we need anyway? Is Jesus contradicting what He has taught elsewhere, that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him?
This parable is not a comparison but a contrast. Is God like the reluctant friend? No, not at all. Unlike human relationships which are fickle and selfish, God, our Father, always provides for our basic needs no matter what the time of the day or night.
So why, then, do we have to ask Him? Because prayer is about having fellowship with God as our Father, not about getting God to come into our space to meet our needs because He is not aware of what is going on with us until we inform Him.
God is smart.
He knows that we are essentially independent. He is a passionate Father who longs for fellowship with His children. How else can He get us to come to Him if He automatically meets every need without our having to ask Him? Like babies dependent on their mothers' breasts, we are dependent on God for our very breath. Our needs drive us to prayer just as a newborn child's hunger drives it to cry out for milk.
This is where prayer begins but it should never remain at this level. Jesus was teaching His infant disciples the first principles of prayer like the ABC of Grade 1 learners. This attitude of total dependence is the foundation of prayer but we must build on it the superstructure of fellowship with our Father as mature sons, not whining and begging for "things" but sharing with the Father His heart for the world and learning to bring "up there, down here" by imitating our Rabbi in His disposition and mission.
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