This passage is devoted to one major objective: to instruct us concerning our perception of God the Father.
- He is not a reluctant stranger who can be bullied into bestowing His many gifts simply because of our many words. That is not the issue for being persistent.
- He is not a malicious tyrant who takes vicious glee in the tricks that He plays on His subjects—by giving a scorpion rather than an egg.
- He is not an indulgent grandfather who provides everything that is requested of Him. He does not spoil His children.
- He is our heavenly Father who graciously and willingly bestows good gifts when they are needed in answer to prayer.
The key is "good gifts when they are needed." God's good gifts may come a little bit at a time. Sometimes, we are not even aware that it is occurring, yet He has been supplying the very thing that we asked for. Somehow or another, we are not sharp enough spiritually to see it.
The parable clarifies one aspect of why we must be persistent in prayer, but there is another that deals with our perceptions of God's power and His purpose and how our requests fit into them. Unfortunately, we often misunderstand God's role as Creator and tend to think of Him narrowly as being our Benefactor. He is both Benefactor and Creator. However, we tend to emphasize the Benefactor aspect, while He tends to emphasize the Creator aspect. So when we feel a need, and our desire is great because we feel that the need is urgent, we want our desire filled immediately because we see it as the answer.
We may be absolutely correct that it is the answer and that what we are asking for is good in God's eyes—it is according to His will. However, there is more to our request from God's point of view. He lives in a different timeframe than we do; time does not mean the same thing to Him as it does to us. In addition, His perception of our request is different because He is looking at it from the vantage point of His purpose rather than from our limited goals, which are often to have relief, strength, a gift, or power so that we might be able to serve Him better. The request may be good and entirely justified, but God is still looking at it differently than we are.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Persistence
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Luke 11:4: