Summary: Learning to pray for results
THE PROCESS OF PRAYER
Have you ever wondered why God wants us to “pray without ceasing?” Why is it that Jesus spent such extended times in prayer, often praying alone all night before making major decisions. Why did Jesus have to pray 3 hours in the garden of Gethsemane before the angels ministered to Him? Why did Daniel pray for 21 days before the angel came?
If God already knows the need and already has the answer, then why can’t we come to God with the same “fast food” mentality with which we order lunch. “God, I would like the #3 blessing, hold the trials, and super-sized – to go!”
Now, there are many reasons why God may want us to pray: testing, timing, relationship, or devotion. But all those things seem to beg the real question. If God can do anything, and if He has a plan for the ages and if He has empowered the church to spread the gospel throughout the world, then won’t He – CAN”T HE just do it whether I pray or not??
I have come to understand that prayer is the truly untapped resource of the church. Yes, God has a plan for the church, but the plan will only be accomplished when His people ask Him to do it. God works through the prayers of His people --- AND SELDOM WITHOUT THEM. While God can do anything He desires to do, He CHOOSES to do only the things He is asked, and that only as the power of the kingdom is released through the prayers of God’s children.
Prayer is not as much an action as it is a process. Prayer is never to be a one-time request or a sporadic “Oh, by the way” with the understanding that God now has the needed information and we should just wait for the answer to come.
In our passage today, Jesus is responding to the disciples desire to know how to pray. In His response, Jesus shows that
the Process of Prayer is:
I. A PROCESS OF SHAMELESS PERSISTENCE
A. It is the Persistence of the asker that causes action.
1. As we see in the parable
2. “Persistence” is literally “shamelessness”
a. brazen tenacity; determined perseverance; relentless diligence (all as positive virtues)
b. The petitioner is “shameless” in his willingness to ask and keep on asking.
c. “I know you have what I need. I know you want to give it to me. I will just keep on asking until it comes.”
Note: “Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” Isaiah 62:6-7
Note: KJV translates the word as “importunity” which Webster‘s defines as “urgent or persistent in asking or demanding; insistent; refusing to be denied; annoyingly urgent”
Note: E.M. Bounds writes, “Importunate prayer never faints nor grows weary; it is never discouraged; it never yields to cowardice, but is buoyed up and sustained by a hope that knows no despair, and a faith which will not let go. Importunate praying has patience to wait and strength to continue. It never prepares itself to quit praying, and declines to rise from its knees until an answer is received.” (The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, p. 44)
B. As seen in the progression of ASK – SEEK – KNOCK
1. Present active tense meaning “continually ask”, etc.
2. The promise is to those who shamelessly and persistently ask, seek, and knock.
Note: Bounds calls ASK-SEEK-KNOCK “the ascending rounds in the ladder of successful prayer.” (p. 44)
3. Perhaps we might remember it as:
a. Asking for specific needs
b. Seeking it continually and fervently
c. Knocking on the doors of promise until they are opened.
II. BASED ON FAITH IN GOD’S NATURE
A. God is obligated to answer prayer because of:
1. His obligations to us as His children
2. His relation to us as our Father
3. His desire to perform His will through us
Note: Brad Young in The Parables writes: “The problem with prayer is God…The supreme barrier one faces during prayer is not the words or the liturgy, but rather the way one understands the nature of God.” (p. 42)
Note: We so often pray defensively (“Lord, don’t let us fail”) when what He desires is for us to understand His nature and pray offensively (“Lord, we claim the victory!”).
B. The purpose of the parable is to demonstrate the nature of God.
1. The rules of hospitality in Jesus’ day made the man inside the house OBLIGATED to meet his neighbor’s need, just as the neighbor was OBLIGATED to provide for the unexpected guest.