My response? “Absolutely! Why wouldn’t I want you to continue praying for me?”
He seemed surprised. “But we’ve been praying this for fifteen years! Isn’t it time to stop asking or at least time to change the prayer a little? Don’t you think,” he wondered, “that God’s tired of hearing the same thing over and over again?”
His comment unmasks a common misconception about prayer: That we should communicate with God in adult ways—trying to figure out what He wants to hear and then making sure that we get it right and don’t bore Him.
When the Lord Jesus taught on prayer, He encouraged His disciples to relate to the Heavenly Father with childlike faith, words, and behavior. His central teaching on prayer, Luke 11:1-13, reads like a kindergarten lesson plan rather than a seminary course.
A childlike request precipitates the teaching, “Lord, teach us to pray” (v 1).
Jesus’ model prayer expresses simple, innocent thoughts to the Father (vv 2-4):
- I wish and cannot wait until you are in charge of everything!
- Until then, please take care of my physical needs and my daily spiritual needs for forgiveness, strength to forgive others, and protect me from temptation and the devil.
The Lord finishes his lesson with two illustrations which adults wonder about but children immediately understand.
- Adults wonder why God is compared to this lousy guy who won’t even get up and help a friend unless he keeps pounding on the door. (5-8) But a child thinks, “Oh, Jesus says that I should just keep on asking until I get my answer.” (Every child knows how to do that…if you don’t think so, take one shopping sometime!)
- Adults try to figure out the nuances and symbolism of the bread that the little boy asks for and the stone that a father wouldn’t offer. And then adults get a little miffed that Jesus calls them evil. We begin thinking, “Hey, I’m a good dad. Why is Jesus calling me evil? I’m not so bad!” But a child just takes the Lord at face value and concludes, “Jesus is saying, ‘don’t be afraid of the answer your Heavenly Father gives you. He knows best how to give you good things.’”
And so, while adults argue over the interpretation and try to figure out God, children just pray and get answers from God.
That’s what I’m looking for—answers!
And you would too if you had this disease.
I don’t understand the mystery of prayer, but this I know: The Lord Jesus told me to ask my Loving Father in Heaven for what I want—and I want to live and serve.
It’s been eleven years since my diagnosis and just recently the doctors told me again that I’m the only person with this disease who lives such a normal life! So, to my friend who asked me if I wanted him to keep praying (and to the rest of my faithful friends!), thanks for praying for me—please don’t stop!
And remember, though you and I are adults, we are still just His little children. And with such a kind and generous Father, we should never hesitate to ask again and again for what our hearts desire. We don’t have to be afraid of His answer.
“You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).
Question: How can I pray for you?