PRAYER IS NOT ABOUT YOU
I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend,
yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
In Luke 11, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent friend asking for help from another friend who could not be bothered. In the end, however, the friend who was already in bed with his children gives in and provides bread for his needy, impudent friend.
A lot of people explain that in Luke 11:5-8, Jesus was teaching His disciples about the persistence of prayer. In some cases, of course, this is true — persistence in something as worthy as prayer is always praiseworthy. However, don’t be fooled, this is not the parable’s main principle.
Pastor Edmund Chan has something to say about this parable: “If we understand this parable to be primarily about persistence, it gives us a warped theology and an entirely erroneous picture of God. We wrongly assume that God is like the friend who refused to get up because he was already asleep! This is wrong theology. The Bible says in Psalm 121 that God neither slumbers nor sleeps. We subconsciously see prayer as twisting the arm of a reluctant God until He says, ‘OK, I give up. Stop pestering Me. I’ll bless you!’”
So what is this parable about? is God really that reluctant friend in bed? Do we just deaden the longings in our hearts? What do we do about the dreams we want to pursue, the requests and petitions we offer up to God? Should we pray for them day and night?
Try this: How about you see that prayer is not about you, but all about God? Do you know Him, really?
Our approach to life and to God is always dictated by our theology. During the times our prayers seem unheard and unanswered, we persist and we keep drawing near because we think, “Well, I need to keep going! I need to keep asking! I need to keep knocking!” On the other hand, we give up entirely, we cop out on prayer, thinking that there’s no point in it at all.
No. God knows our weaknesses, and we are told to be bold in our asking from Him. But our boldness stems not from our own persistence, or our courage, or our faith — our boldness is hinged upon His character and His greatness! Our boldness is contingent on the God we worship. In truth, prayer is more about the God we pray to than the people who are praying!
Remember Him. He is the God who truly wants to bless. Even earthly, evil fathers give good gifts to their children. By contrast, how much more will your Heavenly, eternally good, infinitely wise God bless you? He gives above what we ask or imagine.
Richard C. Trench said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness.”
Next time we pray, let us come to God in both humility and boldness to know Him and His will.