The How and Why of Prayer, Recap part 2

After Jesus gives us the how of prayer by giving a model, or template, on mature prayer to aim for, he turns his attention to some of the “why” of prayer. To be sure, no single passage, book, or sermon says all there is to say about prayer, so I won’t pretend that this says it all. But it would help us if we press in to what Jesus presses upon our hearts. Why should we pray?

After an interesting illustration about 2 friends, where one friend reluctantly gets out of bed to give him buddy a few loaves of bread for a visiting friend from out of town just to get the other guy off his back, we’re perhaps left scratching our heads. Who’s who in this story? Am I the visiting friend, the one in bed, or one of the kids sleeping in the house… what’s the deal, and who is God in the story? Here’s the thing: you and I are like the guy knocking on the door, in need and being persistent. God is NOT like the reluctant friend who gets up kind of resenting us and giving us what we ask for. If even a friend will reluctantly inconvenience himself just to take care of you, how much greater is God! He is our heavenly Father and he desires that we seek him in prayer. He wants us to knock on the door of his mercy regularly, often, always! He’s not bothered, he’s delighted!

But the point of this illustration is really what comes next. Jesus declares “And I tell you…” – this is an emphatic, make-no-mistake-about-it sort of intro. And, he drops a bomb shell on us. These seemingly absolute words of ask, seek, and knock make me flat out uncomfortable. They take me to where my doubts reside – doubts about God’s goodness, power, willingness or ability. While I would have clarified and qualified had I said this, Jesus doesn’t do that. He presses deeper and repeats himself in verse 10. We have to understand something: He’s not going after the finer points of prayer, he’s going after the deeper point of prayer. You can trust God.

I sum up verses 9-10 like this: God wants to give you more than you currently have. The very important logical question that follows is, more of what? Basically more of everything laid out in verses 2-4, in Jesus’ model prayer. More of God’s name holy in our lives, more of his Kingdom come in our life, more of our needs being met, more forgiveness of sins, more help against sin and temptation. That’s not to say we only literally repeat the Lord’s prayer and that’s all that we ask for. But when our heart’s deepest desires are lined up with what Jesus tells us to pray for, you can be confident that you’ll be asking for things God wants you to have. More peace, joy, love, forgiveness, more hope and wisdom and effectiveness in living for Jesus. More, more, more… God give me more.

Finally, Jesus closes with a declaration that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. This is not to be understood as fresh requests for the Holy Spirit as if we don’t have him as believers already (he permanently indwells a person at the moment they are saved) or as if we could lose him and need to him come back. This is a consistent request for more of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, more of his leading, guiding, help, strength – more of everything he is there to do. We will continue to battle “the flesh” all of our lives until we are in perfect glory with God for all eternity. A good place to review or learn about the battle between the flesh and the Spirit of God is Galatians 5:16-26. What we need is more of the Holy Spirit’s influence in our lives so that we remain fully submitted to God, obedient from the heart, and full of joy and worship for God.

The bottom line is that we all need to grow in our prayer lives and we all need to pursue prayer together. We need to come to God with hearts full of praise for him and be ready to give to him everything we’re going through. Ask God to enlarge you view of him and take you to new depths of intimacy and trust in prayer. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it.