And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. – Luke 11:5-8
Jesus gives us this parable to teach us how to pray: with persistence and determination. Sometimes it might feel as if we’re annoying or bothering the Lord by going to him with the same petitions time and time again, but our persistence will be rewarded.
Father Richard Simon spoke about this verse during his daily ‘Word of the Day’ segment on Father Simon SaysTM. He explained that the word persistence in the original Greek of Luke’s Gospel can also be translated as shamelessness. “Shameless persistence, unembarrassed boldness – that is so cool!” said Fr. Simon.
He spoke about the shamelessness that some have in their prayer life. “You meet some people who they are just bugging God about something. Like, ‘you know, Lord! You, God, are you there?’ I think that’s hysterical that we meet people who are actually quite shameless in prayer,” laughed Fr. Simon.
One priest he met prays very persistently and with great trust. “He is praying for not just vocations to the priesthood—he wants eight. Because at the particular graduate school to which they send their seminarians in his diocese, the eighth one is free. This is shameless—it’s exactly the way we’re supposed to pray!”
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Luke 11:9
“Why does God want us to be shameless in prayer?” Fr. Simon mused. “Because God wants to give us what we really want. And if I say, well I prayed and God didn’t answer my prayer—did you nag heaven? Did you storm heaven? Did you say, ‘Oh by the way, save my kids. I’ve been telling you that eight times a day for twenty years!’”
This is the way that the great saints prayed, knowing that God would answer their prayers in accordance with his will. We can look to Mother Teresa, Saint Monica, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint Francis Cabrini, among others, for models of persistence in prayer.
Lord, give us the trust to pray with expectant faith, knowing that you will what is best for us.
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