“And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him 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 11:5-13 (ESV)
In this passage, after giving a slightly shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells the story of a man who, out of food when a guest shows up at his house in the wee hours of the morning, goes to his friend’s house for help. His friend, already in bed and with his children asleep, is predictably less than charitable in his response. As Jesus points out, however, if the man persists in asking, sooner or later his friend will give him what he wants just to make him go away. The gist of the illustration is found in the next sentence, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…”
What Jesus is really getting at here is the heart of the Father. Want to know what God is really like? Take a look at the end of this passage. When Jesus asks, “What father among you…?” He gets us thinking of our own fathers. We don’t all have the best fathers (I know that some reading this will have had very evil fathers indeed), but Jesus’ statement “you…who are evil” covers them as well. Only the very worst of fathers will respond to a request from their children in the way He describes. God, who is not evil, will never respond in that way.
Does that mean we’ll get everything we ever ask for, that it’s an instant ticket to big money and the high life? I would have to say no. God is not a cosmic slot machine. That said, it does mean that we can come to God with any request, any issue, any question. The awkward ones, the weird ones, the embarrassing ones, the ones that only we know and we’d never in a million years share with another human being…we can bring all of these to Him. He won’t turn us away, or humiliate us. After all, if a man can get help from his friend in the early hours of the morning for a problem that’s really his own fault, what can’t we bring to God? That’s the heart of the Father, and it is good.