The Power of Persistence


Luke 11: 5-13
Mal 3:13-20b / Psa 1

. . .because of your persistence, he will get up and give you whatever you need.
(Luke 11:8)

He may not always grant in prayer
When we ask for some material need,
But God will give His Spirit’s power
If it’s for others we intercede.

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your persistence, he will surely get up and give you whatever you need. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:5-13)

Reflection

In this parable, our Lord is presenting a situation where a man values his relationship with his friends so much that he is willing to be importunate to one (troubling him in the middle of the night), in order to show kindness and hospitality to another. After all, if one takes the trouble to be persistent enough, a true friend would surely save him from his problem. I wouldn’t want to lose a friend over a few loaves of bread and a few minutes of sleep. But the real point of Jesus’ parable is not about being kind or being a true friend, but about the importance of being persistent when we are seeking or praying for something. This parable is actually a continuation of the Lord’s lesson on prayer at the beginning of this chapter.

Persistence in prayer means asking, seeking and knocking. When we pray, we must always ask. If we do not ask, how can we expect to be answered? We must also go out and seek for the solution; if we do not seek it out, how can we find what we are looking for? And if we do not knock, how will the owner of the house know that someone is at the door? We must knock continuously on the door of opportunity until it is opened to us. Like the man seeking sustenance for his hungry friend, we must be like a driven man when we ask God our Father for something in prayer. Then Jesus turns to us (fathers), and asks us if we would give our own children something harmful to them when they ask us for food. Surely, even bad parents would only give what is good for their children. And God, whose goodness is immeasurable, will not only give what is good for us, but will even give us the Holy Spirit. Can any gift be better than the Holy Spirit? Before our Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised and gave the Holy Spirit’s power to His apostles. This was His greatest gift.

I would like to believe that the importunate friend in this story was Jesus Christ Himself, Who went to all extremes in order to provide for our salvation. Even today, He continues to nourish us with His Holy Spirit in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. And in His story, He is teaching us that against all odds, our prayers will prevail if only we persist and persevere. This is because true prayer springs from a sense of critical need, and usually, not for our own benefit but for others, as in the case of the friend who had come from a long journey, tired and very hungry. In our perseverance, how can our Father in heaven refuse, when He is far more generous and loving than any father on earth can be? Jesus is simply telling us in this story to trust in His Father’s mercy.

Almighty Father, may our prayers conform always to Your will, reminding us that if some are not granted, it is because You have something better in store. Amen.

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