And he said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves;…
IMPORTUNITY WANTS SOMETHING. We have literally nothing in the house. Our only resource is to ask our friend to supply us, and, through us, our needy guest. God is our friend. Asking is prayer.
II. IMPORTUNITY GOES TO GOD. Pray when you feel want. Do not put off. It would not answer for the host to wait until morning. It was midnight, true. But the traveller had come at midnight, at this unseasonable hour stood famished in the hall, might die before morning. He must go to-night. He must make haste.
III. IMPORTUNITY CANNOT BE PUT OFF. At first it may seem to fail to get God's ear. But it calls still, until He answers. And having done this, it may seem to be rebuffed, as by a voice from within, "Trouble me not .... I cannot rise and give thee," so that it will be tempted to retire without its answer. But if it has an earnest, pressing case, it will not retire. The subject of delay in answers to prayer may not be fully understood by the wisest. By some it is most imperfectly apprehended. We have misconceptions of God. These may lead Him to delay. Such a misconception is seen in the form of the prayer in our parable, "Lend me three loaves." God does not lend, He gives. His is not a niggardly heart, grudging its bounty; He gives freely. As it would wound a mother to have a child say, "Mother, lend me some bread," and she would, if she truly and wisely loved the child, devise some way to teach him that a mother's is not a lending but a giving love; so it must be with God. Again, though there is true want in our hearts, it may not be as heartily expressed and as confiding as God wishes. Ask heartily.
IV. IMPORTUNITY IS SPECIFIC. How specific this man is in stating his case! He wastes no words. "A friend of mine, out of his way, is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him." It is well to pray for all mankind, for all the Church, for large and comprehensive objects, but pray specifically for "a friend of mine." He stands at your door. The petition here was as definite as the statement of the case. "Friend, lend me three loaves." It was a large supply. "One for the friend," says a quaint writer, "one for himself, and one to spare.' He meant to ask for enough. Fix the request at a large amount, but make it definite. If bread is what you want, ask for bread; if you want three loaves, pray for three; if you mean them for your friend out of the way, put in his name, tell who he is, and God will be pleased, if it is not lightly done, an irreverent smartness in prayer, but the fervent simplicity of an agonizing desire.
V. IMPORTUNITY IS EXPECTANT. "Believe that ye receive, and ye shall have." This simple-hearted man knocking at his friend's door, has not admitted the idea into his mind of going home without the bread. Foster the high trust, which ever lives in expectation from God. Such faith He honours. A very worldly man was an object of prayer With his wife. Their little daughter became a Christian; at once she entered into her mother's desires, and joined her in the prayer that her father might be con. verted. Her faith was remarkably simple. She read the direction to us to believe that when we ask for the Holy Spirit we shall receive. She believed; she said to her mother, "Father will be converted." One evening he did not return home at his usual hour. An hour passed, two hours. His wife became anxious, then alarmed. The little girl said, "Why, mother, he's going to come home a Christian to-night. I prayed that he might." The mother smiled sadly at what she looked upon as the child's ignorant simplicity. The hour grew late, still he came not. The mother said, "I must sit up for him." The child replied, "Why, he's all safe, mother; we ought to trust God and go to bed." She went to bed. When the father, at midnight, came, and told his wife how he had found Christ, and, later, they stood in tearful joy looking upon the sleeping face of their little daughter, the child waked and seeing them, before either could speak, with a glad cry exclaimed, "There, mamma, didn't he come home a Christian?" Oh, for the spirit in us all of that praying child!
VI. FINALLY, IMPORTUNITY PREVAILS. All true prayer is answered. The Bible has but one teaching on this subject, experience but one trustworthy lesson. Thirty-four special prayers are given in the Scriptures; every one was answered. It is not promised that the answer will come at once; the tenor of Scripture is to the contrary conclusion. The answer is speedy from God's point of view; with Him one day is as a thousand years. But we are taught to wait upon God, to wait patiently for Him, to be importunate.
(G. R. Leavitt.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;