Parable of the Friend in Need
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
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.'"
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
However, as Jesus points out, the man would be willing
to get up and open the door, despite the inconvenience, because of his
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)
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:
- 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.
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.
Paperback | Kindle
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Go to previous parable: The Good Samaritan
Go to next parable: Rich Fool
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