In Luke 11:5-13, Jesus tells the parable of the man who came to his friend in the middle of the night with a request to lend him three loaves of bread, and in Luke 18:1-8, He shows us the persistent petition of the widow to the ungodly judge.
Both of these parables show us the need for persistent prayer. Jesus makes a point of letting us understand that true prayer is more than just confidently offering our requests.
Prayer that God can answer must be offered sincerely and from the heart. If the expected answer does not come immediately, we must not give up, but continue to pray fervently. Prayer that accomplishes something pleasing to God and is answered by Him must be earnest and persistent, even if the answer drags on.
We know that God is always ready to give us what we need. He does not withdraw and is not too busy to pay attention to our prayer. He is not heartless like the unjust judge in Luke 18.
Heavenly matters often involve delays, which test our prayers and our faith. Yet God always knows what we really need and when we need it.
He blesses us through everything He provides. This should inspire our prayer. He wants us to recognize our needs and bring them before Him in true sincerity. There are times when prayer seems easy, but at other times it is not, and then we are tempted to slack off in prayer. But we gain nothing by doing so. We must not let off, but rather we must pray our way through it.
We will reap abundant rewards for persevering until the answer comes. The Lord Jesus Himself tells us that God always hears us and will give us what we need.
“Praying through it” is not always easy. For example, there is the tempter who wants to make us to slow down and give up. And then there is the weariness in prayer, the giving up before the answer comes. In our time of busyness and haste, the danger of growing weary and discouraged is great. Jesus, however, admonishes us not to grow weary but to persist in prayer. It is through the delay in answering our prayer that our faith and earnestness are tested. If our faith passes the test and our earnestness proves to be truly genuine, the answer will most certainly come.
Jesus says in reference to persistent prayer, “For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened” (Luke 11:10). These words from Jesus’ own mouth should never be anything other than encouraging and faith-strengthening.
As the disciples observed Jesus in prayer, they became convinced that there was an important connection between looking up to God with faith and trust and successfully pressing forward in working for God. They recognized the power and necessity of prayer.
The disciples heard Jesus ask the heavenly Father for what He needed. They heard how He sought and knocked at the gate of heaven. They saw the answer to His prayers over and over again. The answer always came, though sometimes delayed. Dear reader, let us also pray like the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray!”
J. E. Massy