Persistence in Prayer
“So I say to you, ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” Luke 11:9
In today’s gospel passage (Luke 11:1-13), Jesus teaches us, by way of a parable related to hospitality, to be persistent in prayer. The laws of hospitality in the ancient Middle-East were strict, and if a traveller arrived needing food and shelter, one was under an obligation to provide it.
In the parable that Jesus tells, a man receives an unexpected visit from a friend at midnight. Not having any food to offer his friend, the man goes to his neighbour’s house and asks him if he can lend him three loaves of bread. His neighbour responds that it is late; that he and his family are already in bed. But Jesus tells his disciples that the neighbour will eventually get up and give him the three loaves of bread, not because he is the man’s friend, but because of the man’s persistence. So Jesus instructs the disciples to be persistent in prayer in asking God for what they need.
We should continue with prayer even if it seems that our prayers are going unanswered. Jesus is telling us that, though prayer may at times feel hopeless, perseverance will eventually yield fruit. Eventually means in God’s time, not in ours. The model of prayer that Jesus proposes is one that requires us to adjust our image of God.
Despite appearances, God will not fail to bring about justice. If there appears to be a delay in the answer to our prayers, it is not because God is indifferent to our needs or the needs of those we are praying for. If there is a delay, it is because that is part of God’s solution to the problem – and not part of the problem itself. God acts at the right moment to produce the best outcome. He doesn’t act according to the demands of our timelines.
The message from Jesus is clear – keep praying, God is listening and He will act. We must trust in God, for He is faithful.
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)