A Bible Devotion


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Importunity

LUKE 11:5-8 KJV 5 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; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

The lesson of this parable is NOT that we must persist in prayer to obtain an answer from an unwilling God. But that we should be bold in asking.

A parable may teach by showing similarity or by contrasting differences. The point here is based on contrast. This becomes more clear, just a few verses later, in verse 13.

LUKE 11:13 KJV 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

How much more willing is God -- than any earthly friend! Friends may sometimes be undependable, but God is always dependable! God is "rich unto all that call upon Him" (Romans 10:12).

Read the story again and you will see that Jesus was asking a question: "Who would have a friend that would not help in a time of need?" Someone like that would not really be a friend. A friend would not say, "Don't bother me!"

However, even if the friendship was not that strong, if someone has the boldness and audacity to ask for help in the middle of the night, they would not be refused by someone they knew.

Even if it was inconvenient and they really didn't want to help, if you have the nerve to knock on their door and present your request, they will not ignore you. Your audacity and boldness will overcome any reluctance they might have, and you will get your request.

This assumes some relationship was already established. For if you knock on a stranger's house at midnight insisting they give you something, you are more likely to be met with a weapon, instead of having your request granted.

Understanding this about human friends, HOW MUCH MORE your Father in Heaven, who is perfect, can be counted on to help whenever you come to Him. The key is that you must have the confidence to come and make the request.

Note that this person was coming to get something for someone else. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when we need it for ourselves. But Jesus was especially encouraging us to ask boldly for help for other people. They may not have a relationship with God, so they can't ask Him for help and have confidence in receiving an answer, but you do, and you can!

Why was the person shameless in asking? Because he was his friend. He had a relationship, so he boldly did something out of the ordinary, knowing he was being unreasonable, but having confidence to do it because he knew his friend. Although the friend, at first, realizing how unreasonable the request was, talked reluctantly, nevertheless, granted what was asked.

The word translated "importunity" in verse 8 is a Greek word, used only once in the New Testament, which literally means "without shame." It pictures someone without bashfulness or reluctance. Someone who did not hold back, or hesitate. Someone with audacity, even recklessness in their disregard of anything stopping them.

These descriptions indicate faith -- a belief that if I make the request, it will be granted.

Unfortunately, some modern Bible translations translate this word as "persistence." This is simply because many people, even translators, have not clearly understood this parable.

Translation is not an exact science, but is subject to the bias and level of understanding of the translator. So every translation is affected by the beliefs of those who do the translating.

In this parable, the person did not stand outside the door for days on end while continuing to ask for bread. So the point cannot be to just keep on asking for a long time, but to be bold in asking, instead of being held back by fear or doubt.

Persistence in prayer (in the sense of keeping on asking for a long time) is not the idea Jesus was encouraging in this parable.

The point isn't that God is reluctant and needs to be persuaded. But that we should not be reluctant asking God for help. Jesus makes the point clear in the next verse by saying, ask and you will get, etc.

LUKE 11:9-10 KJV 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Some translations insert the idea in verse 9 of "keeping on" asking, seeking, and knocking, but that idea is not from the Greek New Testament text, but from the Latin translation.

Nothing in this parable gives us any evidence it took a long time for the request to be granted. Instead of getting the idea of knocking on a door for several years from this parable, we should realize Jesus was encouraging us to be bold in asking for God's help, especially for others.

So don't hesitate! Don't think God is too busy, or the need is too small or too big for God. Even a human friend will help, if asked. HOW MUCH MORE will your Heavenly Father who loves you, and also loves those you want to help.

SAY THIS: I will be bold in asking God for help -- especially for other people's needs.


 

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