GOD HEARS OUR PRAYERS
Thank you, God, for my many prayers that you have answered. Thank you, that when you have said ‘no’ or “wait’, I am assured you have heard, that you know best and always answer me in the ways that bring you glory.
Read LUKE 11:5-13
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[b] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I am weak, but thou art mighty; / hold me with thy powerful hand. / Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, / feed me now and evermore, feed me now and evermore.’1
These parables belong with the Lord’s Prayer. The disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus doesn’t give them a magic formula. Instead, he teaches them about the nature of God: not a distant, transcendent being but their heavenly Father who knows and cares about them. We must not overanalyze this parable, or indeed any parable which Jesus does not specifically interpret. Jesus did not say that God resembles the neighbor who will grant our requests if we persist enough, nor even that God resembles the kindly father who will give us whatever we want. What Jesus did say was that if an earthly man will get out of bed to help his earthly neighbor and if an earthly father responds kindly to his children, how much more can we, who pray to God as our heavenly Father, count on God’s readiness to hear us and to answer.
Jesus encourages us, therefore, to pray in the knowledge that God cares about us, knowing how desperately we need God and knowing that God will listen to us. We must not ever, as some do, take these sayings to mean that we can presume upon God, presenting God with a blank check on which to write our requests. These assurances after the Lord’s Prayer assume that those who ask, seek, or knock, because of their need, are also yearning to know God’s will and are longing for God’s kingdom to come. We may be anxious about the necessities of life, our needs, and our families’ needs, but Jesus calls us to lift our eyes beyond this life: ‘…seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid … for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.’2
Thank God who knows our needs and hears our prayers. May we glimpse the coming kingdom, where joy will surpass all earthly pain.
Forgive my impatience, Father, when I feel you have not answered my prayers in the way I think you should. Thank you for your forbearance when I forget that you are faithful and always for me. Help me to trust you—and praise you—in every answer.
1 William Williams, 1717–91, ‘Guide me, O thou Great Jehovah’ 2 Luke 12:31,32
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