Luke 11:5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 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.

8 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.

9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.


MEMORY VERSE: For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. —Matthew 6:32b


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Jesus told a story of three friends who represent the persons who make up the triangle of intercession: the Father and two “friends” who come to Him in prayer for each other in times of need.



Luke 11:5 “At midnight”: at a most inopportune and inconvenient time.

Luke 11:7 “My children are with me in 43 bed”: or, my children and I have all gone to bed. “The customs of Orientals differ in this respect from our own. Among them it is not uncommon indeed it is the common practice for a whole family—parents, children, and servants—to sleep in the same room” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).

Luke 11:8 “Importunity”: unabashed boldness; “literally, because of his shamelessness.

The word is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, and exactly expresses the pertinacity that knows no restraint” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). The Latin Vulgate adds here: “If he shall continue knocking.” “The sense is obvious: If the churlish and self-indulgent— deaf both to friendship and necessity—can after a positive refusal, be won over, by sheer persistency, to do all that is needed, how much more may the same determined perseverance in prayer be expected to prevail with Him whose very nature is ‘rich unto all that call upon Him’”

(Romans 10:12). (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).




Jesus’ first teaching on prayer was given in His Sermon on the Mount. Some time later, the disciples wanted Him to instruct them again (Luke 11:1), and again He gave them the manner of prayer and what to pray. Then he related a parable that opens up to us the secrets of intercession, which, as we have already seen in previous lessons, is a vital part of our friendship with Christ.

In the story there are three friends. The first friend comes to the home of his friend while traveling on a journey. The second friend is unprepared and doesn’t have sufficient food on hand for both his own family and the visiting friend and his family. So he goes to the home of a third friend, asking for enough bread to feed the whole group.

At this point, the story sounds a lot like another story Jesus told about prevailing in prayer—the unjust judge and the widow (Luke 18:1-8). Both stories can be a little confusing. Is Jesus saying that our heavenly Father is like the unjust judge? or, in the case of these three friends, is Jesus likened to the annoyed friend who refuses to do the favor for friendship’s sake, but finally gets up in desperation because his friend won’t quit knocking? No, certainly not!

The lesson Jesus wanted to impart was this: God desires for our prayers to be in earnest and not lethargic. He had already taught that it is not a prayer of repetitive words—“much speaking”—that receives an answer; rather, continuing to come to Him because we are convinced He is the ONLY source of help, and that we GREATLY NEED the assistance or favor for which we ask. Unwavering persistence—not giving up— is the attitude of the heart in which God delights.

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. Share the background verses of this simple story.
  2. What is the definition of importunity?
  3. What other “prayer” story did Jesus relate that illustrated importunity?
  4. Is the parable saying that there is some “inopportune” time to pray?
  5. Whom might the three friends in the story represent in “real life”?




Friend Number One: “A friend of mine in his journey is come to me.” This represents the needy person in our lives for whom God desires us to exercise intercession. Who has “come” into your life today? Obviously, if you are married, your spouse is THE one who has come to you. A spouse comes with needs—spiritual needs, emotional needs, physical needs. I must recognize that I alone cannot meet all of these needs. In intercession, God can make me aware of new ways I can help in these needs, unrecognized by me before I went to God in prayer about it; or He may inspire me with faith to access divine help not known before.

The same way with my children. A child comes into my life totally dependent upon me to supply his needs. Children have physical, spiritual, and emotional needs as well. I am becoming more aware and convicted about my responsibility to intercede for my spouse and children. “I have nothing” is increasingly the cry. “But, Lord, You do! You know how to meet the individual needs of each child! Show me how this child recognizes and receives love! Give me the wisdom to direct this child to You, that he might learn, as he grows, how to come to you directly for his needs.”

Additionally, we all have friends whom God sends our way, and most likely, we ourselves have been given to someone whom God has chosen to be a friend to us, to help us, to pray for us, to be faithful to us.

Therefore, I am Friend Number Two, who is in the middle, the one interceding and praying for the friend who has come to me. Am I a faithful friend who takes the burden and goes to the only One I know who can supply, and does not give up until help is given? Abraham prayed and interceded (until he asked for pardon and patience for his continual pleading!) for Sodom and his loved ones who lived there. Moses interceded for the people of Israel. Job interceded for his children and later, his friends. Jesus is our Mediator and intercedes for us to the Father. He “ever liveth” to make intercession for us; His life in us is the life of intercession for others.

The Third Friend is the heavenly Father. Jesus shares with us the close relationship He has with His Father; further, He became the Atonement for our sins so that we could approach the Father! He is teaching that our Father is much more than an annoyed friend who finally comes to the door; He is more than a tired, uncaring judge who wearily hands down the desired assistance. No! He “knows” what things we truly need. He “waits” that He may be gracious unto us (Isaiah 30:18), because He is a God of judgment, or method. He has divine purposes and plans, the knowledge of which we cannot see immediately. He has a blessed “afterward” that yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and He sometimes gives us an exercise of faith that we may obtain it (Hebrews 12:11).

An almost-hidden gem of truth is in the phrase, “Although he will not rise and give him because he is his friend.” This describes the mutual trust between friends. “I know you will not be offended if I deny your request right now. You’re my friend! You respect my space and my right to choose.” or on the other side, “You’re my friend! I will love you if you deny me. But there is no where else I can go. If I keep asking, you will help me, and not be angry with me.”

What a blessed lesson on friendship is given in these few words! May we continue asking, seeking and knocking at the door of our heavenly Friend until we, strengthened by faith and endurance, rejoice to see the “end” of the Lord (James 5:11), and the positive effects of our prayers poured out on our friends and family!

“What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”

—Angela Gellenbeck



During my early school years I read of many who had learned to trust the Lord for their daily needs. One such character that has always stood out in this regard was the German minister and missionary Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller, more commonly referenced as George Müller. Mr. Müller ministered in England for the majority of his life, and after his conversion and call to ministry began to learn about depending solely on God as provider for all things. As his ministry grew he was called to a special care for the souls of children and orphans, and during his lifetime his schools ministered to over 46 120,000 children and his orphanages cared for over 10,000 orphans ( The following is just one anecdote portraying his routine of interceding for others before his Heavenly Father:

“One morning, all the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their

morning meal, when Müller said, ‘Children, you know we must be in time for school.’ Then lifting up his hands he prayed, ‘Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.’

“There was a knock at the door. The baker stood there, and said, ‘Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.’

“Mr. Müller thanked the baker, and no sooner had he left, when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it.”


—Fari Matthews