Saturday, July 24, 2010


1. It was the regular custom for a Rabbi to teach his disciples a simple prayer which they might habitually use. John had done that for his disciples, and now Jesus’ disciples came asking him to do the same for them. The prayer begins by calling God ‘Father’. The very first word tells us that in prayer we are not coming to someone out of whom gifts have to be unwillingly extracted, but to a father who delights to supply his children’s needs.

2. Travelers often journeyed late in the evening to avoid the heat of the midday sun. In Jesus’ story just such a traveler had arrived towards midnight at this friend’s house. In the Middle East hospitality is a sacred duty. But unfortunately in the villages only enough for the day’s needs was baked. This puts the householder in an embarrassing situation, and he has to meet the sacred obligation of hospitality at all cost.

3. The poorer Palestinian house consisted of one room with only one little window. Families were large and they slept close together for warmth. For one to rise was inevitable to disturb the whole family. Further it was the custom to bring the livestock, the hens and cocks and the goats, into the house at night.

4. Jesus is not telling us to batter at God’s door until we finally compel him to give us what we need but to tell us, ‘if a churlish and unwilling householder can in the end be coerced by friend’s shameless persistence into giving him what he needs, how much more will God who is a loving Father supply all his children’s needs?

5. If we do not receive what we pray for, it is not because God grudgingly refuses to give it but because he has some better thing for us. There are no such things as unanswered prayer. The answer given may not be the answer we desired or expected; but even when it is a refusal it is the answer of the love and the wisdom of God.

Today all of us get dejected when our prayers go unanswered. We begin to lose our faith and immediately start questioning God’s existence. We need to be persistent and patient. Naturally the person who went on knocking the door would have felt bad at the reaction of the neighbour, but we cannot help it because the cause for which he came knocking becomes the priority. So also when someone comes in search of us in the wrong time we get annoyed. We try to avoid them and get irritated at their insensitivity. It is here we should show our magnanimity and sensitivity. We might be good hearted but if we fail to help the other in the right time, our goodness loses meaning.

For more insights on our father check out in the blog archive on 17th of June at

William Barclay’s Commentary
Sacra Pagina Series

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