I find Luke's account of the Lord's prayer model for His disciples revealing:

  1. God's familial relationship with us as He is introduced to us as OUR FATHER who is to be hallowed... and secondly
  2. God's providence as we are asked to petition Him about His kingdom, our daily bread, forgiveness and temptation.

How then does the story of the midnight traveler and the father-son illustration in Luke 11:11-13 serve as corollaries expanding on the content of the Lord's prayer?

1 Answer 1


The primary way in which Jesus' story of the importunate neighbor expands the content of our Lord's prayer for his disciples is in its emphasis on his (and our) Father's willingness to give good gifts to his children who ask of him.

I find interesting that the word translated persistence in verse 8 can also be translated shamelessness! Just as the importunate neighbor was shameless in his insistence that his sleeping neighbor get up and give him bread, with which he could feed his late-night visitor, so too do God's children need to swallow their pride and ask their heavenly Father to grant their requests.

Unlike the sleeping neighbor, however, God the Father is neither unwilling nor reluctant to answer his children's requests (and he doesn't even take a nap, according to Psalm 121:4). Jesus underscores the Father's magnanimity by using what I call his "how much more" line of reasoning, which he employed on more than one occasion (see, for example, Matthew 7:11; 12:12; Luke 12:24 and 28).

In Latin, the "how much more argument" goes:

argumentum a minore ad maius (or, in English, "from the smaller scale argument to the larger one")

In other words, if something is true on a smaller scale, it will also hold true on a larger scale. Jesus gives us some additional insight into how his reasoning, vis a vis prayer, applies to God's children:

If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (verses 35-36).

Put differently, Jesus is saying that if earthly fathers who are by nature both fallible and imperfect (my words for Jesus' use of the word evil) will give good gifts to their children who ask of them, how much more will an infinitely righteous and holy heavenly Father do the same--and more!--for his earthly children.

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, the greatest gift our heavenly Father can give us, according to Jesus, is his Holy Spirit (verse 13), who is the living and abiding presence of God in our lives (see Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit in John 16:5-15). Of lesser importance--but still significant to the Father, are the supplicatory prayers offered up to him for lesser--yet still important to his children--things, such as daily bread and other temporal blessings.

In conclusion, Jesus' teaching on prayer in Luke Chapter 11 emphasizes the utter willingness of his Father to listen to and answer the prayers of his children and image bearers. Moreover, Jesus is teaching that there is no shame in asking the Father for needful things, a truth which is underscored by the writer to the Hebrews:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (4:16 KJV, my emphasis).

  • 1
    I'm thinking the word tenacity would be a good translation because of its connotation. What's interesting is the CJB translates this with a Yiddish term with the same root as used in the Peshitta.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 7:43
  • @PerryWebb: Sounds appropriate to me! Having spent a few years in the Big Apple, I'm familiar with the Yiddish term "hutzpah" (or "chutzpah"), which can be translated as unmitigated gall, or simply "nerve." Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 2:53
  • 1
    In this story we tend to focus on the person doing the request because this represents us in prayer. But, the request is very inconvenient to fulfill. People often call agape unconditional love, but in our society today, it might better be called inconvenient love. It is the love expected of a servant, the example that Jesus left (John 13).
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 12:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.