July 18 I Sunday
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” —Matthew 6:7-8
A parable can be one of two things. It can either be a comparison, where the story mirrors the message being taught, or it can be a contrast, where the story is the opposite of what is being taught and teaches us a lesson through contrast. To teach His disciples about prayer, Jesus tells a remarkable parable about a friend of a friend of a friend. When Friend 1 arrives at midnight to visit Friend 2, Friend 2 realizes that he has no food to feed him. Friend 2 then decides to go to Friend 3 asking to borrow three loves of bread. Friend 3 responds, “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” (Luke 11:7). But Friend 2 does not take “no” for an answer and keeps banging on the door, shouting louder and louder until eventually, Friend 3 gets up, comes down, opens the door and gives him some bread.
This is one of those parables that presents a contrast, where Jesus teaches us what prayer is not like. In other words, God is not like Friend 3, and we are not to behave like Friend 2. We do not need to keep banging on the door of heaven, making a fuss to get a reluctant God to respond to us. But this view is exactly what some people think praying is.
Following this parable, Jesus adds, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). The marvellous thing is that everyone who asks is going to receive, everyone who seeks is going to find and everyone who knocks, the door is going to be open. But what are we to ask, seek and knock for? Not things from God, but God Himself! If all we seek is our own agendas, terms and end results, we are not truly seeking God, which nullifies the effectiveness of our prayer.
We may pray and repeat certain prayers that are entirely legitimate, but we must not do so thinking that we might somehow change God’s mind. When we pray, we can come before Him, recognizing that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him. As we pray “Your will be done,” we do so knowing that the answer will be the Holy Spirit, who will come and further the agenda that God has in our life. Our God is a loving Father who delights in giving what is best to His children. This is why we can pray with confidence and comfort, knowing He hears our prayers.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing my prayers. Help me find peace in the situations that I face, remembering that You know what I need before I ask. Praise You!