This morning Jenn and I were awakened at a quarter to 5 by our doorbell ringing again and again. I quickly (or as quickly as someone with only half their wits about them stumbling in the dark towards the door having been abruptly yanked from a deep sleep) answered the door. It was one of my neighbors. He had accidentally locked himself out of his rental house and his garage, and needed the code for opening the garage from the owner of house. So he needed to use a phone to call. After finally getting into his garage and taking off for work I was reminded (in my still half-stupour) of the story Jesus told about the annoying neighbor (and no you won’t find that as the title of the section in your Bible) in Luke 11:5-10
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,
6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’
7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’
8 But I tell you this– though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
I was not going to just stay in bed (as nice as that thought was) since I didn’t want my kids being woken up by the incessant ringing (besides I’d like to at least think I’m a good neighbor :-).
The story Jesus told had a slightly different take on the reason that the man gave bread to his neighbor in the middle of the night — the neighbor wouldn’t stop with the asking and in Israel in those days houses were all crammed together and very small. So as the neighbor in the street was trying to get this man to wake up and give him bread for guests (providing food for guests was REQUIRED in a near eastern perspective no matter how much it put you out) other neighbors would have likely heard the raucous and could likely hear the response of the man being wakened. No matter how much the man didn’t want to get up, he would do it just because he was being publicly shamed into doing it.
The whole point was simply that if someone through incessant requests could motivate a response from us (being less than friendly or feeling generous…especially in the night…at least for some of us), then how much more so will God give to us what is good and what is the gift of Himself by His Spirit. The Lord actually wants us to “bug” Him with requests for the blessing of His presence. So don’t quit asking! Don’t quit seeking! And especially don’t quit ringing His doorbell…or knocking…or whatever it takes!