Is God interested in our thoughts and desires? Does He welcome our prayers, or consider us a bother?
In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Luke records part of what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but perhaps it should be known as “The Disciple’s Prayer!” After giving a pretty simple outline of how to approach God, Jesus tells a little story to illustrate an important principle.
Luke 11:5-8 – Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs”
Just a few chapters over, Luke records another parable Jesus told to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart (18:1). Jesus uses the example of a widow who seeking legal protection from her opponent from an unrighteous judge. The judge was unwilling, but by her continual coming she wore him out and he gave her what she needed.
Jesus is telling us something important. God wants us to be persistent in our prayers.
God is neither a friend too lazy to get out of bed nor an unrighteous, evil judge. How much more will His heart be moved by our persistent, humble petitions, because He has is righteous and infinitely compassionate toward His creation? Jesus confirms this when He reminds the disciples that even an evil father knows to give good gifts to his children … how much more will our heavenly Father give what is good? Matthew doesn’t define what “good” is, but Luke does. God gives us the best gift – the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of God Himself.
God does not give us everything we ask for; we can all testify to that! I don’t believe there is a secret to getting God to say “yes.” If God says “no” or “wait” it’s because He knows something we don’t know. He has an eternal perspective and a sovereign plan and purpose He is working out in our lives. Our loved one didn’t die because we “didn’t have enough faith.” Our plans didn’t fail because we weren’t persistent enough, even though we prayed constantly.
God desires our persistence because He desires a relationship with us. He wants us to come to Him for our needs, not operate in self-reliance and independence. He does not find our repeated requests annoying; He looks at us as His beloved children and delights when we trust Him enough to bring the desires and longings of our hearts to Him.
God promises that He will work all things out for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). A huge part of how that happens is the work He does in us as we bring our requests to Him, in faith, in humility, and with the persistence of a child who knows His Father will give Him only what is good. The more time we spend in prayer, the more we will gain His heart and His perspective so that whatever the answer may be, it will be as much as we need.
What are you praying for today? Be persistent. Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. Eventually, you will receive, you will find, and the door will be opened.