Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

Parable of the Friend in Need

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Parable of the Friend in Need: Luke 11:5-8

Jesus tells this parable of the friend in need in order to communicate the importance of being persistent in prayer. Very similar to this parable is the Parable of the Persistent Widow and Unjust Judge.

Context of the Parable

In the context of Luke 11, Jesus has just taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer, saying, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial." (Luke 11:2-4)

Jesus then tells his disciples this friend in need parable.

Summary of the Parable of the Friend in Need

Jesus says, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.'" (Luke 11:5-6)

The friend answers with, "Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything." (Luke 11:7)

Jesus then makes his point, "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs."

Background Information for the Parable

When Jesus tells this story, his listeners understood why the man was not willing to get out of bed and give anything to his friend. Back then, houses were very simple for most people, having only one room with a slightly raised portion for cooking and sleeping. Since houses were small, visitors could easily be heard from the door.

A family often slept in the same bed and in order to keep thieves from breaking-in, the door had to be braced up. If a visitor came to such a house at midnight, it would be a hassle for the man to get out of bed, disturbing his family, and to get the door open.

However, as Jesus points out, the man would be willing to get up and open the door, despite the inconvenience, because of his friend's persistence.

Meaning of the Parable of the Friend in Need
& Understanding "Ask, Seek, Knock"

Jesus then immediately relates this parable to prayer, saying the famous Ask, Seek, Knock passage, "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." (Luke 11:9)

This Ask, Seek, Knock passage is an important example of why it is so important to read everything in context. If we take this passage out of context, someone might think that it indicates God will give us whatever we want if we ask enough times.

God is not a magical genie, and Jesus did not say that. In context, Jesus makes it clear what he's talking about.

Jesus goes on to say, "Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who 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!" (Luke 11:11-12)

Jesus is directly relating this parable of the friend in need to receiving God's gift of the Holy Spirit.

In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus tells us to pray in order to:

  • Honor God.
  • Ask for God's reign to spread.
  • Ask for our basic needs to be met.
  • Ask for forgiveness (and be reminded that we are to forgive others).
  • Ask to be kept from evil.

Jesus then uses this parable of the friend in need to tell us to be persistent in prayer, and his main message is that if you pursue God and his gift of salvation, you will receive it (the Holy Spirit).

God's Truth Taught in Stories

Study the parables of Jesus in this easy-to-read 40 day devotional.

This devotional takes the unique approach of understanding Jesus' parables by examining the genre, scriptural context, and historical culture. Your life will be transformed by studying the parables of Jesus Christ.

Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

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Go to previous parable: The Good Samaritan

Go to next parable: Rich Fool

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Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

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