JESUS' parables were of many different kinds, and it is important to understand what kind of parable we are reading. Today's passage is a case in point. After giving the disciples a form of prayer based on the intimacy between children and parents, Jesus spoke of,God's willingness to hear their prayers and respond to them. He has his hearers imagine the following scenario. A friend unexpectedly arrives at your home late at night.

You go to a neighbor at midnight to ask for three loaves of bread. Because the neighbor and his family are in bed, he refuses. "I cannot get up and give you anything." But, Jesus says, if you persist, the neighbor will eventually respond to the request, is Jesus teaching that God requires our persistence in praying?

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This is not a parable of similarity, but of contrast. Jesus is not saying God is like the reluctant neighbor who has to be badgered into acquiescence. He is saying that if even a very obstinate neighbor will finally honor your request, how much more will a loving, fatherly God move to answer your petitions? God is not like the neighbor, but unlike him.

It is true that verses 8-10 instruct us to pray for our needs even though God already knows what they are, just as children make requests of their earthly parents. It is also clear, in verse 13, that the gift, which Christians are to seek in their praying is the Holy Spirit. The overall emphasis of this passage, then, is a spiritual one. Our requests are to be in keeping with the coming kingdom of God and our wills should be subjugated to the will of God.