Keep on Praying

Written on 09/04/2021
Christian Dunn

Verse: Luke 11:5-10

5 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; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 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.’ 8 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.

9 “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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

This passage invites us into the tension of prayer. Jesus is teaching here on prayer (vs 1-4 which precede this are the Lord's Prayer) and his lesson in this parable is clear: sometimes you need to keep on praying. 

However, our natural inclination is to want a more concrete formula. How long do we need to keep on praying? What happens when we keep on praying and what we are praying for still doesn't happen? Does that mean Jesus was wrong?

Wouldn't it be so much easier if we knew exactly how much we had to pray for every specific request? But prayer is more of a relationship, a conversation with a loving Father, than it is a transaction with a Heavenly ATM. Prayer is more of a mystery, than it is a formula. And prayer is more of an art, than it is a science.

In our postmodern, western society this is hard for us. We'd much rather have a formula we can study and manipulate to produce our desired result. But the truth is, there is so much we can't know. We don't know his plans, his timing, or what else he is doing in us, and in others. And so Jesus invites us to trust him.

Our knee jerk reaction is one of two things: (1) I'm not going to pray then, since I can't guarantee it will "work," or (2) I'm going to figure out the formula. I would suggest a third option: humble obedience. Jesus teaches us to pray, so we will pray. Jesus teaches us to keep on praying with "shameless audacity"—asking, seeking, and knocking—without giving up. So we will keep on praying. I can't control the outcome, so I will release that burden to Jesus. I will let him be the "answerer of prayers" not me. I will simply respond to the invitation into the tension of prayer, and enjoy his presence as he sustains me even as I wrestle, and wait, and struggle. And in the waiting and the tension, I will find a more profound connection to the God who loves me, and a deeper trust in his always good and wise will.

I pray that you would encourage me in my prayer life today. In the areas where I am feeling run down, I pray for a boost of your love and strength. Help me to walk in the courage and comfort of knowing you are the one who answers prayer, not me.