Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pray Like You Mean It

Photo by Uri Breitman
Banging At The Door

In Luke 11, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. So, Jesus gave them the model prayer that we now call The Lord's Prayer. Jesus then followed up the model prayer with an example story of asking a friend for some food in the middle of the night:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need (Luke 11:5-8).
At first glance, this story seems simple enough. Okay, you go to a friend's house, maybe a little too late in the night, to get some food. Can't your friend just turn on a light, run into the kitchen, and grab some food for you? Really, how difficult can that be? Well, in Jesus' day, it would have been a tremendous challenge for a neighbor friend to do this for you. First, any food in the house would have been stored at the back of the home. Second, the entire family would be laying on the floor asleep in the main part of the house. Third, obviously, there was no such thing as electric light.

In order for your friend to get you some food, he would need to light an oil lamp or two, quietly walk over his family laying in the middle of the floor, and go to the store room at the back of the house to find some food for you. There's a really good chance your friend is going to wake up his family in order to do this, if the banging at the door didn't wake them up already. I don't know about you, but I'm always concerned about waking up my kids in the middle of the night, fearful of the fact that they may not go back to sleep for me!

Praying With Persistence

In this example, Jesus tells us that our audacious persistence will cause a friend to get up and get the food for us. It's not because of our friendship, but because we are persistently banging on the door asking for the food!

After his example story, Jesus then goes on to explain that when we pray, we should approach our prayer time with this exact same persistence:
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13).
In essence, Jesus is saying to us, "I want you to bang down the door to the throne room of Heaven. I want you to be persistent in the 'ask' for your prayer concerns." The Lord tells us that if we will be persistent in our asking, seeking, and knocking, then He's going to open that door and give us whatever we need. Most importantly, though, He's going to give us what we need because He loves us like crazy! The majority of earthly fathers love their children and like to give them good things. In the same way, our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to give us good things too.

How Do You Pray?

So, do you pray like you mean it? Are you persistently banging down the door to the throne room of Heaven, asking God for His financial provision, for a job, for healing, or for your family? Whatever your need may be today, why not take Jesus at His word and start working on your "ask?" He loves you, and He wants to open the door in order to provide good things for you.

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