5 He also said to them: “Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I don’t have anything to offer him.’ 7 Then he will answer from inside and say, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I have gone to bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he won’t get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his friend’s persistence, he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9 “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Jesus uses parable-like illustrations to encourage believers to be bold in prayer and to be assured of God’s answers. Employing the familiar relationships of neighbor and friend and father and son, Jesus contrasts two scenarios to emphasis these major points.
In the first story, Jesus tells of a friend who rudely awakens his neighbor at midnight to ask to borrow bread for an unexpected guest. The neighbor, bound by friendship and the obligation of hospitality, must comply. Jesus maintains that if a neighbor would willingly give food under duress and to avoid shame, how much more would God who loves us quickly respond to our prayers.
Jesus makes an even stronger case for God’s graciousness and generosity in the second scenario, by suggesting if a sinful human being, like a father, gives good gifts to his children, how much more readily will Our Heavenly Father, who loves us unconditionally and sacrificially, give good gifts abundantly and generously to us.
As casual readers we often mistake these illustrations to advocate the necessity of persistence in prayer or to infer we must wear God down until we can coerce Him to answer our prayers. On the contrary, God readily responds to our prayers as we ask, seek, and knock. We can have utter confidence that when we pray, keep asking, seeking and knocking God will answer. It is His character and nature to give good gifts to His children and to be given the Holy Spirit is to receive the totality of God’s great gifts.
To keep asking, seeking, and knocking when answers to our prayers do not immediately come may seem to be an exercise in futility. However, the wait may help shape our faith, test our sincerity and the intensity of our need. The act of daily asking again and again may strengthen our dependence and reliance upon God and serve to build patience and confidence in God’s faithful.
Making prayer a daily discipline is similar to a runner in training for a marathon. The secret to runner’s success is daily training. By devoting time each day to a regimented schedule of activity, he will be able to go the distance on race day. For prayer to become woven into the pattern and fabric of our daily lives, we must be intentional and determined to pray each day. Over time, daily prayer becomes an established discipline and an integral part of our daily walk.
I find that doing something physical or tangible serves to remind me to practice a specific discipline, such as prayer. For example, I once bought a bracelet with the letters P.U.S.H. imprinted on the band. The letters were an acrostic reminding me to “pray until something happened.” I either wore the bracelet or placed the bracelet in a conspicuous place to remind me to keep praying regarding a matter.
I also heard of an individual who, upon retiring to bed each night, would place his bedroom shoes under the bed. In the morning, he would have to kneel beside the bed to retrieve his shoes. He used this physical act of kneeling as a reminder to begin his day, on his knees in prayer. Do something to serve as a tangible reminder to keep praying.
Develop a system, which will encourage you to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. For example, write each of your prayer requests on an index card. In the upper right corner put the date the request was made. Each day pray for this request(s) until an answer comes. When the prayer is answered put that date underneath the date of origin. Periodically review God’s answers to your prayers and give God praise for each.