Jesus has asked us to put our trust in Him. He told us to pray in His name. “If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” ( John 14:14 ) In the Gospel of Luke, again He asked us to pray with confidence. “And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks.” ( Luke 11: 9 – 10)
But have we noticed that even Jesus’ prayer was not answered? In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed with great anxiety. “Father, if you will, take this cup of suffering from me.” ( Luke 22: 42 ) The cup of suffering was not taken away. His prayer was not answered then and there. It was answered in a much better way, but in God’s way and in God’s time because Jesus prayed with great confidence. He put the Father’s will above His will. “Not my will, however, but your will be done.” ( Luke 22: 42 )
How was his prayer answered? “He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honour of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ( Philippians 2: 8 – 11 )
St. Augustine said, “He whose attitude towards Christ is correct does indeed ask ‘in his name’ and receives what he asks for, if it is something which does not stand in the way of his salvation. He gets it, however, only when he ought to receive it, for certain things are not refused us, but their granting is delayed to a fitting time.”
God will always grant us what we really need, but in many cases we just don’t know what is really good for us. Let us listen to this poem written by an unknown author:
I asked for health,
that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity,
that I might do better things…..
I asked for riches,
that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise…..
I asked for power,
that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness,
that I might feel the need of God…..
I asked for all things,
that I might enjoy life.
I was given life,
that I might enjoy all things…..
I got nothing that I asked for…..
but everything I hoped for,
almost despite myself,
my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men,
most richly blessed.
Prayer is an essential part of our relationship with God. Yet, too often we neglect this bridge of communication with heaven. In many cases, we don’t pray because we don’t know how to pray, or how often we should pray, or why we should pray.
Jesus’ disciples saw Him spend large amounts of time in prayer, often by Himself. They soon realized the demonstration of God’s power and wisdom flowing from Jesus’ life directly resulted from the intimate relationship He enjoyed with His Father.
When they asked Him to explain more to them about prayer, Jesus told them this story. “Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.’ “And I say to you ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” ( Luke 11:5-10 )
In this parable, Jesus asked us to pray with persistence – which means to hold on tightly to His promises in prayer, and never let disappointment cause us to lose our faith.
The man in the parable did not give up when his friend turned down his initial request. Jesus pointed out that because of this man’s persistence, his friend would eventually get up and give him what he needed.
If we pray to God, He will answer but we must wait and let Him answer our prayers in His perfect timing. Many times the greatest trial comes just before the answer is heard. As the saying goes, ‘It's always darkest just before the dawn.’
The most important key to effective prayer is a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. The man in the parable did not just go to anyone for help. He went to his friend when he needed help.
It takes time to develop a close friendship. We can start by involving God in the details of our daily life. We can learn more about Him by reading the Bible. We can talk to Him by praying. We can pray for our family and friends who need our help. We can talk about Him when we talk to our friends. And remember to thank Him when our prayers are heard.
After we have built a close relationship with God, then we must never give up. We must believe that Jesus meant what He said: that if we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He will, in His own timing and in His own mysterious way, give it to us. This promise alone will give us the strength and the peace which no one else can give.