Tuesday, October 18, 2005

7. Parables on Prayer

Luke 11:5-10 and 18:1-8

Jesus uses these two parables to teach about persistence in prayer. What stands out is how Jesus creates his pictures using descriptions of people very much unlike God! First, the friend who disturbs the midnight slumber of another for a loaf of bread--and he gets it because of persistence, not because of the friendship. Second, the unrighteous (!) judge who grants the requests of a lady because she would wear him out with asking.

If relunctant friends or unrighteous judges honor persistence, why would God not? This seems to suggest that we are heard for the cry of our hearts much more than for our words. What technique or mantra did the friend use for the midnight bread?

Parenting brings out further insights concerning persistence in prayer. One child of mine has the habit of asking simply to receive--and the asking is persistent. But, just because one asks to points far exceeding irritation does not mean that one will get what is asked for. Motive is enough--in this case, I will not give in to selfishness or feed an inappropriate indulgence.

A more specific case: one child asked permission to do something and I had to disallow the request based on rules that I must follow--I simply could not allow the request. She asked again and I had to say no. She had done it before, but now the situation was different--I had to say no. She asked again, and again, and again, etc. I had to say no. She was right to ask and I could have easily caved in, but this time, due to new circumstances, I had to say no.

Both these examples speak volumes about persistence in prayer. Jesus does not say it directly, but we can assume that the requests of the friend and the lady were reasonable requests. But, as in the case of my kids, there are some unreasonable requests where God must say, "you gotta be kidding. You know better than to ask for that" and all we do is raise chaos until we wear out. On the other hand, we may ask reasonable requests and we may appeal to history that God has granted such a prayer before and assume He will do it again . . . yet for His reasons, He may decline despite persistence.

Ah, the wonders of prayer.

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