"And He said to them, Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and will say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread],
6For a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come, and I have nothing to put before him;
7And he from within will answer, Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you [with anything]?
8I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence and insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs." Luke 11:5-8 (AMP)
I had to read these verses a few times in a few different translations to really understand what was being said here. I'm sure I still am missing quite a bit, because I'm not understanding the elaborate question being asked. But the answer at first is no, go away. Obviously though, we are persistent, because in the end, our friend gets up out of bed and gives us as much as we need. I wonder how annoying we got in order to get him out of bed?
The key here though is persistence. If you read these verses alone, it's a nice little tale of not giving up when you need something, but there is something more to be found in the verses that follow. I found the Amplified version put it best.
"So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened." Luke 11:9-10
Ask, and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock, and keep on knocking. That is just such encouragement, and a wonderful reminder. Because in this faith walk that we are all walking out in life, we can always keep asking, because we are constantly changing. We could be a baby Christian, seeing a powerful evangelist speak for the first time and ask God to make us like that evangelist. Well, God knows we have a lot of growing to do before we come even close to the abilities of that evangelist, so he tells us no- or not now. We have two choices then, we can give up and never ask again, OR as we go through life we can remember that experience with that evangelist and ask God to help make us like that evangelist. If we are persistent- and show we mean what we are asking by studying His Word and spending time in prayer, then with time and maturation, one day our persistent asking could result in a very big yes.
The world really is our oyster, but sometimes we are simply not ready for what God has for us. In those cases, we need to work to make ourselves ready, and continue asking- we need to be persistent!
This can also be applied to natural matters as well. I clearly remember the many times Andy and I decided it was time to move from wherever we were living. Every single time we decided it was time to move, our eyes looked towards the city. Every time! We would ask God if we could move there, and would look for an oppportunity, and it never happened. For the time, He wanted us in the small town we were living in. While we were content for a time in each of the places we lived, there was a part of us that still wanted a move to the city, and when we asked again that last time, we finally got the answer our hearts desired. God is so good!
I even think of times when I am reading my Bible. How often do I come across a passage that I don't quite understand. I'll read it, ask God to show me what it's saying, but sometimes, there's nothing there. Sometimes I have to come back to a passage over and over, and every time I am reminded that I feel like I'm missing something, and I ask God to show me, and still, nothing. But then that one time comes along where I am coming across it again, and the words on the page begin to sing to me, and I see exactly what God wants to say to me with that passage. It's wonderful! But had He showed me way back the first time I asked, I wouldn't have understood, or I wouldn't have been ready to really know what it was saying.
We should be persistent in our walk with God. Those unsaved loved ones and neighbors we are praying for? We should never stop praying for that salvation. It isn't enough to say we prayed for them once and that was enough- we need to continue to pray for God's realness in their lives. When we pray for someone who is sick, we don't just say a quick prayer once and consider it done, we continue praying, we continue with persistence until that sickness is gone from their body and they are whole.
If we read just a little farther in Luke, chapter 11, we see what the reward is for our persistence.
"What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!" Luke 11:11-13
If we are persistent, God will answer us. If we are persistent, He will not answer our desire to be a world-changer by making us a hermit in a strange land. He will see and hear our persistence, and He will smile on that persistence and give us exactly what we ask for- and so much more! Sometimes I think He just wants to know how much we really want what we are asking Him for. How willing are we to go the distance to acheive that goal? If we desire to be a pastor, are we willing to put everything aside and sacrifice the time to go to Bible school? If we desire to be an evangelist, are we willing to submit to another's authority while we learn and intern under another evangelist for possibly years? If we desire to truly heal the sick and raise the dead, are we willing to begin at the bottom by praying for that headache, that back pain, or that gentleman in the wheelchair?
Persistence could unlock a world of possibilities for us within God's Kingdom. Are we willing to be persistent? Or are we wanting everything to come easy- only those who are persistent will see the fullness of what God has for them. Persistence will see us to the goal line.