Week of July 12-18
Persistent Prayer – Man as Chaplain

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”… And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 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.
– Luke 11:1,5-8 ESV

During the pandemic, Forbes magazine reported that a ton of people took to the web to learn new things. Online learning soared. YouTube pages blew up with viewers. People sitting in quarantine decided to do a lot of self-improvement, educate themselves with classes and videos, and acquire new skills.

Think about the disciples. They were with Jesus for over three years. What an amazing opportunity to learn everything about the spiritual life from the Master Himself? Put yourself in their sandals. If you had one thing you wanted the Lord Jesus to teach you, what would it be? Maybe preach? Nobody could preach like Jesus. Or maybe teach? Jesus was the greatest teacher who ever lived. I find it interesting that the one thing above all else these men wanted to learn from Jesus was how to pray.

Luke above all the other gospel writers portrays Jesus as a man of prayer. And it made such a difference that it caught the attention of the disciples. They noticed that Jesus would rise before sunup and get alone with God, sometimes spending the whole night in prayer. Then when He preached and taught and healed, they witnessed the presence and power of God flowing through Him. So seeing Jesus pray, the disciples asked Him: “Lord, teach us to pray.” And the Lord gave them and us what is called the Model Prayer (v. 2-4). Jesus said: “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” So He taught them what to pray. Yet He also taught them how to pray.

In v. 5-13, the big point He makes about how to pray is to do it with persistence. He said praying is like asking, seeking, and knocking (v. 9-10). All those words in the original Greek are in the present tense, implying continual action: Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking. How should we pray? With persistence. Be persistent in your pursuit of God in prayer.

I love the way the Lord Jesus used humor to drive it home in v. 5-8. I like to call it the “Parable of the Midnight Mooch.” Some pious Bible scholars like to call it the Parable of the Friend at Midnight, but I question the friendship of a guy who bangs on my door at midnight and wakes up the house for a loaf of bread to feed his guest. But I digress. The point of the funny story Jesus told is about being persistent. The guy who is persistent gets what he asks for. In fact, Jesus basically says the poor man who was awakened in the middle of the night won’t give the guy what he’s asking for out of friendship. No. It is because the guy bothered the crap out of him. That’s my loose interpretation of what Jesus said in v. 8.

Don’t misunderstand. We are not to be persistent because God is reluctant to answer. Neither is He indifferent nor does He need to be pestered. No. Jesus said He is a Good Father who wants to give good gifts to His children (v. 11-13). So why be so persistent? Persistence in prayer demonstrates our absolute dependence on God. It’s like exercising a muscle that results in the building up of our faith and trust in God. As the chaplain, we need to put our family through some strength and conditioning exercises in persistence so that they grow in their dependence on God. Above all, model it for them. Be persistent in prayer.

  • Ask yourself some hard questions about persistence. Do you find that when you don’t get what you ask for fairly quickly that you tend to give up easily? Do you just stop praying about a situation or person?
  • What are some strength and conditioning exercises you can do yourself and with your family to grow in your spiritual stamina to be more persistent in your prayer life?
  • Ask God for His help in becoming more dedicated, determined, and even tenacious in your pursuit of Him in prayer.