“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”
“Then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).”
Prayer as a persistent pursuit pays. Persistence is much more than repetition or frequency – persistence in prayer as taught in the Bible involves an attitude. One that is bold, even demanding, expectant, and restless, but always respectful. Jesus even teaches us that we should come in prayer with an attitude that says, “I’m not going away until you grant my request.”
Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge, who because of a widow’s persistent pleas, relented and gave her justice (Luke 18:1-8). What won the day with this man was not the merits of her case but her pesky pleading. Jesus taught us here that we should “ALWAYS pray and not lose heart (v.1).” The Greek could be translated “always pray and not give in to bad or evil.”1 The obvious counter then would be that in our failing to pray relentlessly our adversary, the devil, may prevail in distracting us from us from making an effective appeal to God.
After the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray He provided a parable about going to a friend’s house at midnight to ask for bread (Luke 11:5-13). His first request was rebuffed but because of his persistence his friend rendered to him all that he needed. Likewise, the Lord taught us to ask, seek, and knock (v.9) and we too will prevail with heavenly provisions. Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep on knocking. Matthew Henry commented, “We prevail with men by importunity because they are DISPLEASED with it, but with God because he is PLEASED with it!” It isn’t that God is reluctant to answer but He is glorified when we fervently seek His willingness.
Jesus sought rest in a home and was approached by a Syro-Phonecian woman – a Gentile (Mark 7:24-30) who asked Him to cast out a demon from her daughter. She fell at His feet and KEPT ASKING Him (v.26). Initially He did not respond to her pleas (Matthew 15:23). Then she worshipped Him and begged further to which He gave a reply that would have brushed back most; “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Essentially He was telling her, I am able but I’m not here to take requests from Gentiles but to serve the Jews. But she did not turn away but further plead her case and the Master praised her faith and granted her request. Ask, seek, and knock. Then keep on asking, seeking, and knocking.
Abraham continued making progressive requests upon God in bargaining for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in which his nephew’s family lived (Genesis 18:20-33). Abraham prevailed in securing the salvation of those cities if 50 righteous men could be found. But he continued to press for more; “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less (vv.27-28)?” Abraham continued to bargain for the lives of these wicked people who deserved God’s justice. Abraham himself had invested much in the rescue of these men and women and had God’s own heart in seeking their salvation (Genesis 14:15-16). God’s desire to extend mercy was granted as Abraham continued to ask, seek, and knock if only 10 righteous could be found there. If we align our will to God’s how far will He allow us to go in our prayers?
Before seeking the blessing of the King of Persia, Nehemiah had fasted and prayed for many days before the King of heaven (Nehemiah 1:4 – 2:4). Moses begged God to spare the Israelite’s lives prostrating himself continually for 40 days and nights before prevailing (Deuteronomy 9:25-29). Jacob wrestled with God (Hosea 12:3-5) and would not let Him go until he received His blessing (Genesis 32:26, 29). Have we wrestled with God and refused to let Him go until we receive His blessing in prayer (Colossians 4:12)?
Prevailing in prayer may indeed require the persistence that Jesus taught. Until we have a clear “No” from God we may continue to ask, seek, and knock on heaven’s door relentlessly.
“Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).”
Robertson, A. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Lk 18:1). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.