Perhaps the caring heart and character of God is the first lesson Jesus teaches us about in this parable because this is foundational to our desire in pursuing the Lord. If we don’t know he cares for us, why would we pray to him?
1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Peter motivates us to cast all our troubles onto the Lord by reminding us that God really does care. God really is good. If you don’t know he cares for you, if you don’t know that the heart of God is for you, or if you doubt the goodness of God, you won’t pray very much.
In Dr. Dobson’s book called Brining Up Boys, he instructs that during the teen years, kids will find it much harder to listen to the advice of their parents if they felt unloved in childhood. He instructs parents, “The best way to avoid this teenage time bomb is to diffuse it in childhood . . . Begin now to build a relationship that will see you through the storms of adolescence.” Dr. Leman, in Parenting Your Powerful Child, also states, “They don’t care what you know . . . until they know that you care.”
Just like a child who rebels against her parents because she doubts their love for her, if we don’t believe deep in our being that God really cares for us, we will find it very hard to “always pray” and thus we will lose heart and give up (Luke 18:1). In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus uses this parent-to-child metaphor by again contrasting our totally good Heavenly Father with sinful fathers on earth:
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. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Here Jesus is telling us to consistently ask, to continually seek, and to constantly knock – all of these being prayer metaphors. To motivate us to pray like this, however, he points out the goodness of our Heavenly Father. Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Jesus highlights the evil of earthly fathers not to bash them but to highlight how good our Heavenly Father is. If our earthly dads were able to give us good gifts, how much more will our Heavenly Father be able to do even better?
Jesus wants us to be blessed, but he knows oftentimes God won’t bless us until we ask him. And he knows we won’t ask him until we know that our heavenly Father really is good and really does desire to give us good gifts. So many times we just need to ask, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). But Jesus knows we won’t ask anything from our Father if we don’t believe he desires to bless us.
I recently heard of an old tradition that Amish parents have when one of their children runs away from home. I’m certainly not in favor of everything the Amish believe, but I think this particular tradition they have is especially beautiful. When one of their children runs away from home the parents set a place at the table for their run away child at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They put out a plate, the silverware, a cup, the whole thing. But no one sits in the chair. They just leave the spot empty.
Since this is a tradition, the Amish run-away knows their family back home is setting a place for them. So at least three times a day the run-away will be forced to remember the love their family still has for them. The parents want their children to know that at any point they want to come home, there will always be a place waiting for them at the table. Why do the parents do this? Because no one comes home when they believe they are unwanted.
You see? Jesus is trying to motivate us to always pray and come back home to the Father by reminding us of the great and perfect love of God. The judge was bad to the uttermost, not fearing God and not caring about people. God is good to the uttermost, putting his glory above all else and caring for people with all of his heart.
No matter where we go, no matter what kind of crazy we have created in our lives, Jesus wants us to know God is totally good and loving, thus we should pray to him all the time, always returning, never quitting.