Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (Luke 11:5-8)
We have often read this parable or heard it preached with an emphasis on the persistence of the asker. The friend who responds to our knock would turn us away because the conditions are not right, yet if we are bold (persistent depending upon your translation) he will arise and provide the requested loaves. There is another emphasis in the Lord’s words that is not often heard and that is speaking to a friend on behalf of another.
Christ teaches us of the importance of intercession in this brief interchange. Our temptation is most often to pray for ourselves and our own needs or comforts. God is certainly not offended when we voice our needs but He is examining our trust of His provision if this activity becomes our sole focus. Jesus speaks here of shifting our focus from ourselves to the needs of others in prayer. We do not seek the three loaves for ourselves because we were too lazy to bake them. We seek the three loaves from a friend at midnight when he is in bed because we want to provide for a visitor who has unexpectedly appeared at our door and is in need of sustenance. We can be assured of answer to our intercessory prayer.
Perhaps the easiest word to read over is ‘friend.’ Jesus does not say we go our neighbor or a stranger to request to loaves, we go to a friend. Are you approaching God as a friend? Jesus proposed the simplest test for us to evaluate our friendship; “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) The prayer as a friend of God is the one in which confidence can be vested.