And 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 and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
In Luke’s telling this passage follows on from Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray by offering them the words we call the Lord’s prayer. In this way we have a contrast between how God relates to us, and how we relate to each other. We are reminded that God provides ‘our daily bread’ but it takes real persistence for us to share our bread with each other. We are blessed by God’s willingness to forgive but we need to be challenged to forgive others.
God’s relationship to us is paralleled with that of good parents who respond to the simple and reasonable request for a fish and an egg by doing so, and not giving a snake and a scorpion. The basic needs are fulfilled, not arbitrary punishment. A good parent strives for the wholeness of their child and requests that build towards that are affirmed. We are reminded that this is even more true when it comes to God.
Ask, search and knock – be open to Christ in the world around you. Give, find, and open – be open to Christ acting through you. In all things, place yourself before God in prayer.
Living God, we live pressured with demands on our time, energy, resources, and attention. We try to prioritise, but are pressed by the loudest voices, the strongest obligations; often all we can do is deal with what is before us. We crave an all-embracing vision to inspire, direct, and empower us, yet your ‘still small voice’ is often heard in the request for help, the search for meaning, and the knock at the door. Amen
TThe Rev’d David Coaker, Minister of Grays URC and a chaplain to the Moderators of General Assembly