So, if prayer gives you unhindered and bold access to the power of God, (Hebrews 10:19-23) and God desires to demonstrate His power and His love on the platform of your life, (Ephesians 3:20) how then do you experience answered prayer?
What I’m about to tell you will radically change your life if you let it.
He does! And better than that…
Think about that. If you are confident that God wants to answer your prayers and you know He will answer your prayers, the answers to your prayer are only a prayer away. In order to explain the secret of prayer, I will use the parable Jesus used to teach his disciples to pray.
The parable of the reluctant friend:
“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this illustration: ‘Suppose you went to a friend's house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would say to him, 'A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.' He would call out from his bedroom, 'Don't bother me. The door is locked for the night, and we are all in bed. I can't help you this time.' But I tell you this -- though he won't do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you what you want so his reputation won't be damaged. And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You fathers -- if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Luke 11:5-14 (NLT)
Here are some of my observations regarding this parable.
1. The person praying (whom I will call the “pray-er”) has a personal relationship with both the one with the need and the one with the resources for meeting that need.
The “pray-er” had a relationship that was personal with two other people in this story. First he had a friend that came to his house in the middle of night. Second he had a friend who lived in a house down the road—a friend to whom he went in order to ask for bread. His relationship with both of these people must have been close for one was willing to come to him in the middle of the night, and he was willing to interrupt the other in the middle of the night.
This is a necessity of intercession. You must have a personal relationship with those who need help and with the One who can provide the help that your friend needs. When you ask God to do something for someone else, you make their need your own. Then, you represent them to God. The “pray-er” in the parable made his hungry (traveling) friend’s request his own, then he represented this friends’ need to the friend who was sleeping (and apparently had bread).
2. The person praying went to his friend’s house. Why did he go to that particular house?
He was his friend! It’s not explained, but Jesus implied that the “pray-er” loved his friend and his friend loved him.
Some friends can be disturbed in the night, and some can’t.
This was obviously the kind that could.
There was much more to this relationship than just a knock on the door in the middle of the night. Enough life had been shared together between these two for the “pray-er” to know he could interrupt his friend’s sleep and ask him for help.
He had bread! The “pray-er” knew his friend had bread.
Note that the only prerequisite for being a good pray-er is having a good need.
We make this so complicated! God created us to need exactly what He has to give.
He’s the giver we are the receivers.
No matter what you need, God’s got the provision.
Not only that, but He has storehouses overflowing with provision just waiting on “pray-ers” who have the kind of relationship with Him that they can come and knock on His door in the middle of the night and ask Him for them.
And this leads me to my next and favorite point:
He is certain his friend will give what him what he needs. The “pray-er” knew he could interrupt his friend’s sleep, ask him for bread and receive bread from him.
He needed bread, his friend had bread, he was certain his friend would give him his bread.
(Note the “pray-er” didn’t expect to be encouraged in his friendship through the experience of knocking, and then after some time to go away empty handed. The goal of his prayer was not the practice but the answer.)
3. But then there’s a setback.
Oops! Here’s the surprise.
Our “pray-er” didn’t count on this! His friend said “no, not now!”
What?! That doesn’t make sense!
So, he just kept knocking, and by his “shameless persistence” he told his friend these things:
4. And finally the sleepy friend-with-bread gets up almost as if to say, “Alright, I’m coming for heaven’s sake!”
I would imagine that he might have given his persistent friend 5 loaves of bread and a pint of goat’s milk to get him to go back home!
And at the end of the story, Jesus said this,
“For everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)
Herein lies the meaning of this parable.
But don’t stop here, read a bit further in Luke 11:14.
You fathers -- if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."
To further clarify, Jesus spoke of the innocent request of children to their fathers. Would any man, in his right man give his child a snake when he asked for a fish? A scorpion for an egg? Of course not!
Does God delight in confusing you with your prayers?
Does He take advantage of your weakness and use it to torture you?
Is His purpose for you to pray and pray and pray simply to be chiseled on and made into the likeness of Christ and never give you what your heart yearns for?
While being formed into the image of Christ is most certainly a major part of the “madness” of delays in prayer, it is not the goal.
The goal of prayer is to dispense heaven’s storehouses of their glorious riches! God stores riches in glory for one purpose only…to pour them out on those who pray!
Note this phrase in the verse above (Luke 11:14): how much more…
How much more will your heavenly Father give…
How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit…
How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
God delights in proving Himself to us over and over again in our lives.
He delights in releasing heaven’s storehouses of riches on our behalf as we recognize that more of God = more of God’s goodness…
and freedom from the bondage of sin…
and fulfillment and…
the list goes on and on.
Why would we be satisfied with a tiny little souvenir to represent the time we spent with God in prayer when He is eager to give us Himself?
When we recognize that the answers to all of life’s worries are found in Him, we will be delighted to discover that the answers to all our prayers are YES in Christ Jesus to the glory of God the Father.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20