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12 Parables: The Friend at Midnight

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Posted about 5 years ago


 The friend at midnight

Read the parable of the friend at midnight. *Luke 11:5-8*

Then watch the video clip.

Interpreting Out of Reach

The parable of the friend at midnight explores prayer. There's no better example of persistence and faith than that of a child. Jesus even tells us to have faith like a child. The children in Out of Reach are irresistible. In fact, one can't help but wonder how the father could resist the requests of his daughter...leaning over his shoulder and begging him through her missing front teeth. That's probably how God sees us. Not as annoying people pounding on the door at midnight, but as adorable children.

Cultural Background

Jesus isn't saying here that God is like a reluctant sleepy neighbor; rather he is saying that God responds to persistence. This persistence in prayer is a boldness that stays at it until God answers. Such persistence indicates faith, and God responds to such faith (Hebrews 11:6).

The elements of the parable would have been familiar to first-century Jews. This request of the neighbor would have been nothing unusual, since all communities saw hospitality as a civic obligation. The visitor( who often traveled at night to avoid stifling heat) was to be treated hospitably, not just by his actual hosts, but by the entire community. The social requirement to provide food and shelter were givens, and it was probably normal to offer guests unbroken loaves of bread rather than leftover scraps. Since baking was a communal activity, the host knew at once who might have fresh, unbroken loaves available.

Discussion Questions

1. Do you feel timid about approaching God with your needs?

2. This parable tells the story of someone pounding on the door on behalf of someone else--a friend from out of town. How boldly do you pray for the needs of others?


The assumed question of the parable is, Can you imagine asking your neighbor for a hand in hospitality only to receive refusal? The implied decisive answer is, no way! People in Eastern cultures would have taken "door locked" and "kids in bed" as a bogus excuse, a shirking of communal responsibility.

Just as they couldn't imagine a neighbor being so inhospitable, Jesus is saying we shouldn't view God as reluctant to answer our prayers.  Persistence comes when I know I'm doing the right thing, and that's why God responds to persistence in prayer. We don't need to bug God. He isn't reluctant to give us what we need. We must, however, persist in prayer so that God sees faith and rewards it.

More Questions

3. Do you ever feel as if you are bugging God with your prayers? Does it sometimes feel as though God is standing on the other side of the door telling you to go away?

4. Do you have any examples of when you've prayed persistently, and God has answered those prayers?

5. Have you given up praying about something that maybe requires a little more persistence?


*Note* The video clip on youtube is unlisted. If you are not a member of PL Bible Study Group and would like to watch it, PM me for the link.

*Sources* Craig McElvain

I'm married to the prenup