Solutions to Prayer Problems
“I’m really good at praying,” said no Christian ever. We know we should pray. We start praying. But soon we give up. Or we pray with no expectation of an answer. Or we pray for the wrong things. Prayer becomes a problem rather than a solution, and it depresses us rather than encourages us. How can we pray in a way that solves our problems rather than adds to them? Jesus guides us to that happy place in Luke 11:5–13.
The disciples had the same issues with prayer as we do, and one day asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus sympathized with them, started his prayer class with the model of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2–4), then addressed three problems with prayer (Luke 11:5–13).
Persistent Prayer Will Be Answered Prayer
It’s midnight, a hungry friend arrives at your door, you have no food, and there’s no Walmart for miles. What do you do? The man in our story decided to bang on his neighbor’s door until he annoyed him enough to leave his bed to give him bread (Luke 11:5–8). The man’s appeal to friendship and hunger failed. But his persistent pleading succeeded. He simply wouldn’t give up. More than that, he was impudent in his persistence. He wasn’t just tapping the door every few minutes; he was banging it nonstop. Eventually this friend was so irked that he got up and gave the man what he needed, just to make him go away. (Parents know what this feels like.) When we give up prayer, we give up more than prayer.
Confident Prayer Will Be Answered Prayer
“I know you probably won’t help me with this, but I suppose I should ask you anyway.” How would you feel if someone said that to you? I would say something like, “You’re right, I’m not helping you with that.” The half-hearted lack of confidence is insulting. But if someone said, “I’m asking you for help because I know you love to help people,” that would open your heart, wouldn’t it? That’s the kind of God-confidence Jesus is encouraging when he says, “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10). God’s door opens to confident thudding, not nervous tapping.
So, if I ask for a red Corvette, I’ll get one?
When we give up prayer, we give up more than prayer.
Spiritual Prayer Will Be Answered Prayer
Would you ever ask your dad for a snake or a scorpion? Then why ask God for a Corvette? Instead, Jesus says, ask for the Holy Spirit because your heavenly Father loves to give the best of gifts to his children. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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!” (Luke 11:11–13). God may give us a red Corvette, but we shouldn’t pray for one.
Why ask for a Corvette, when you can have Christ?
This story tells us the kind of story God wants for all of us. He wants us to have a prayer life that’s characterized by persistent, confident, spiritual prayers.
How can we pray in a way that solves our problems rather than adds to them? Pray persistently, confidently, and spiritually for the greatest answers to prayer.
This article is adapted from Luke: Stories of Mission and Mercy by David Murray.
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