Boldness of God’s Friends
(With Christ In The School Of Prayer)
By Andrew Murray
“He said unto them, which of you
shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, friend,
lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine is come to me from a journey, and I
have nothing to set before him; and he from within shall answer and say, trouble
me not: the door is now shut, and
my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his
friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he
needeth” (Luke 11:5-8).
Jesus gives the beautiful parable of the friend at midnight, to teach His
disciples the twofold lesson that God does not only want us to pray for
ourselves, but for the perishing around us, and that in such intercession, great
boldness of entreaty is often needful and always lawful, yes, pleasing to God.
The parable is a perfect storehouse of instruction in regard to true
intercession. There is first, the
love which seeks to help the needy around us: “My friend is come to me.”
Then the need which urges to the cry: “I have nothing to set before
him.” Then follows the confidence that help is to be had: “Which of you
shall have a friend and say, Friend, lend me three loaves.”
Then comes the unexpected refusal, “I cannot rise and give thee.”
Then again the perseverance that takes no refusal: “because of his
importunity.” Lastly, the reward
of such prayer: “He will give him as many as he needeth.”
A wonderful setting forth of the way of prayer and faith in which the
blessing of God has so often been sought and found.
Let us confine ourselves to the chief thought:
prayer as an appeal to the friendship of God.
We shall find that two lessons are especially suggested.
The one, that if we are God’s friends and come as such to Him, we must
prove ourselves the friends of the needy. God’s
friendship to us and ours to others go hand in hand.
The other, that when we come thus we may use the utmost liberty in
claiming an answer.
There is a twofold use of prayer: the
one, to obtain strength and blessing for our own life.
The other is the higher, the true glory of prayer, for which Christ has
taken us into His fellowship and teaching.
It is intercession, where prayer is the royal power a child of God
exercises in heaven on behalf of others and even of the Kingdom. We see it in Scripture, how it was in intercession for others
that Abraham and Moses, Samuel and Elijah, with all the holy men of old, proved
that they had power with God and prevailed.
It is when we give ourselves to be a blessing that we can especially
count on the blessing of God. It is
when we draw near to God as the friend of the poor and the perishing that we may
count on His friendliness. The
righteous man who is the friend of the poor is very especially the friend of
God. This gives wonderful liberty
“Lord! I have a needy friend whom I must help.
As a friend I have undertaken to help him.
In Thee I have a Friend, whose kindness and riches I know to be infinite.
I am sure Thou wilt give me what I ask.
If I, being evil, am ready to do for my friend what I can, how much more
wilt Thou, O my heavenly Friend, now do for Thy friend what he asks?”
The question might suggest itself, whether the fatherhood of God does not
give such confidence in prayer that the thought of His friendship can hardly
teach us anything more. A father is
more than a friend. Yet, if we
consider it, this pleading the friendship of God opens new wonders to us.
That a child obtains what he asks of his father looks so perfectly
natural, we almost count it the father’s duty to give.
But with a friend it is as if the kindness is more free, dependent, not
on the nature, but on sympathy and character.
Then, the relation of a child is more that of perfect dependence.
Two friends are more nearly on a level.
So our Lord, in seeking to unfold to us the spiritual mystery of prayer,
would have us approach God in this relation too, as those whom He acknowledged
as His friends, whose mind and life are in sympathy with His.
But we must be living as His friends.
I am still a child even when a wanderer, but friendship depends upon the
conduct. “Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).
“Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made
perfect; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, and Abraham believed
God…and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:22-23).
It is the Spirit “the same Spirit,” that leads us that also bears
witness to our acceptance with God. “Likewise,
also,” the same Spirit helps us in prayer.
It is a life as the friend of God that gives the wonderful liberty to
say: I have a friend to whom I can go even at midnight.
How much more when I go in the very spirit of that friendliness,
manifesting myself the very kindness I look for in God, seeking to help my
friend as I want God to help me.
When I come to God in prayer, He always looks to what the aim is of my
petition. If it be merely for my own comfort or joy I see His grace, I
do not receive. But if I can say
that it is that He may be glorified in my dispensing His blessings to others, I
shall not ask in vain. Or if I ask
for others, but want to wait until God has made me so rich, that it is no
sacrifice or act of faith to aid them, I shall not obtain.
But if I can say that I have already undertaken for my needy friend, that
in my poverty I have already begun the work of love, because I knew I had a
friend who would help me, my prayer will be heard.
Oh, we know not how much the plea avails!
The friendship of earth looking in its need to the friendship of heaven:
“He will give him as much as he needeth.”
But not always at once. The
one thing by which man can honor and enjoy his God is faith.
Intercession is part of faith’s training school.
There our friendship with men and with God is tested. There it is seen whether my friendship with the needy is so
real, that I will take time and sacrifice my rest, will go even at midnight and
not cease until I have obtained for them what I need. There it is seen whether my friendship with God is so clear,
that I can depend on Him not to turn me away and therefore pray on until He
O what a deep heavenly mystery this is of persevering prayer.
The God who has promised, who longs, whose fixed purpose it is to give
the blessing, holds it back. It is
to Him a matter of such deep importance that His friends on earth should know
and fully trust their rich Friend in heaven.
He trains them, in the school of answer delayed, to find out how their
perseverance really does prevail, and what the mighty power is they can wield in
heaven if they do but set themselves to do it.
There is a faith that sees the promise and embraces it, and yet does not
receive it (Heb. 11:13,39). It is
when the answer to prayer does not come, and the promise we are most firmly
trusting appears to be of none effect, that the trial of faith, more precious
than gold, takes place. It is in
this trial that the faith that has embraced the promise is purified and
strengthened and prepared in personal, holy fellowship with the living God, to
see the glory of God. It takes and
holds the promise until it has received the fulfillment of what it had claimed
in a living truth in the unseen but living God.
Let each child of God who is seeking to work the work of love in his
Father’s service take courage. The
parent with his child, the teacher with his class, the visitor with his
district, the Bible reader with his circle, the preacher with his hearers, each
one who, in his little circle, has accepted and is bearing the burden of hungry,
perishing souls--let them all take courage.
Nothing is at first so strange to us as that God should really require
persevering prayer, that there should be a real spiritual needs-be for
importunity. To teach it to us, the
Master uses this almost strange parable. If
the unfriendliness of a selfish earthly friend can be conquered by importunity,
how much more will it avail with the heavenly Friend, who does so love to give,
but is held back by our spiritual unfitness, our incapacity to possess what He
has to give.
O let us thank Him that in delaying His answer He is educating us up to
our true position and the exercise of all our power with Him, training us to
live with Him in the fellowship of undoubting faith and trust, to be indeed the
friends of God. Let us hold fast
the threefold cord that cannot be broken: the
hungry friend needing the help, and the praying friend seeking the help, and the
Mighty Friend, loving to give as much as he needeth.
“O my Blessed Lord and Teacher!
I must come to Thee in prayer. Thy
teaching is so glorious, and yet too high for me to grasp.
I must confess that my heart is too little to take in these thoughts of
the wonderful boldness I may use with Thy Father as my Friend.
Lord Jesus, I trust Thee to give me Thy Spirit with Thy Word, and to make
the Word quick and powerful in my heart. I
desire to keep Thy Word of this day: “Because
of his importunity he will give him as many as he needeth.”
Lord, teach me more to know the power of persevering prayer.
I know that in it the Father suits Himself to our need of time for the
inner life to attain its growth and ripeness, so that His grace may indeed be
assimilated and made our very own. I
know that He would thus train us to the exercise of that strong faith that does
not let Him go even in the face of seeming disappointment.
I know He wants to lift us to that wonderful liberty, in which we
understand how really He has made the dispensing of His gift dependent on our
prayer. Lord, I know this: O teach me to see it in spirit and truth.
May it now be the joy of my life to become the dispenser of the riches of
my rich Friend in heaven, to care for all the hungry and perishing, even at
midnight, because I know my Friend, who always gives to him who perseveres,
because of his importunity, as many as he needeth.