Our reflection on Jesus’ instructions on prayer in Luke 11:5 continued…
Jesus said to his disciples, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying to that friend, loan me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” Luke 11:5
As we said in the last blog, Jesus here is calling his disciples to not simply just pray that their weary-visiting-midnight-friend might find the food he or she needs to provide relief and comfort after their long journey, but Jesus instructs his disciples to be the ones who provide that “midnight bread.” Again, Jesus here instructs his disciples (and us) that we are called to not only pray for others, but to be the answer to our prayers for others. This is actually a rather challenging word from Jesus to all his followers. When I find myself confronted by these scenarios in life, when I am visited by a “midnight-friend,” a friend in need and who is weary and worn down from the journey of life, I am never short of offered prayers. I’m always willing to pray for folks, but when I am required to do more than pray, I am not as always faithful.
In some ways praying for others is easy. I can pray for others in the comfort of my home. I can pray for others when it is convenient for me. I’m usually not put out when I have to pray for others. Praying for others doesn’t require me to spend much of my own energy or time; it doesn’t require me to spend any money or to share my food or my home; it doesn’t require me to be inconvenienced or challenged. But, to be someone who not only offers prayer, but also seeks to be an answer to these prayers…that requires more of me. And most of the time, I’m not willing to give that.
So when I’m visited in “the middle of the night” by a friend who is “hungry,” it’s easy for me to fire off a quick prayer…”dear God, my friend is hungry, please feed him, provide him the food he needs.” Or maybe my friend is in grief, “dear God, my friend is grieving, please comfort him.” Or maybe my friend is sick, “dear God, my friend is sick, please be their healing.” These prayers aren’t necessarily bad – or even wrong – but they are just the first half of the equation.
Reading Luke, Jesus challenges us to grow into new ways in our prayer life and in our discipleship. When we read of the home-owner in Jesus’ parable, he (or she) roused himself (or herself) in the middle of the night and went out and searched for some “food” for his (or her) midnight-friend. Perhaps, then Jesus isn’t asking me to be someone who prays passively for others, but to be someone who prays actively and prays to become an answer to my prayers for others. If this is true, then when I’m visited by friends “in the middle of the night,” my prayer should not simply be, “dear God, my friend is hungry, please feed him and provide him the food he needs,” but my prayer should be, “dear God, my friend is hungry, please provide me with the food and resources necessary to share with my friend.” Or, “dear God, my friend is in despair, please provide me with whatever is necessary so I can meet her (or him) in her despair and be a source of friendship and hope.’
Again, it appears, that Jesus is calling us to become the ways and means by which Jesus answers our prayers for others…