English Standard Version, David Cochran Audio Bible
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence [or persistence] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Compared this to the verse ~
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
Why sometimes does it seem our prayers are not answered when God calls us His friend? David prayed for his infant to live. Elijah and Jonah prayed for death. Disciples James and John asked for higher rank in Jesus' Kingdom. Jesus prayed "this cup to be taken from me." Paul prayed for a thorn in the flesh to be taken away. Yet All of the Them were willing to live God's plan.
For the last few months, I've been putting together a new prayer group. (We've been part of a Couples Group for the last 11 years.) I really like home prayer groups; it's like the early Church, when you go into someone's home, it is more meaningful to me than a Church group meeting in public facility. So today, I was looking over articles on having a good prayer group.
One of the articles I read was about a man coming to his prayer group facilitator and saying he was going to quit. The needs of the group were overwhelming and nothing ever happened.
Don't we all get in a prayer rut? This group wasn't spiritually dead, they looked at the question to see - well, seems to be true, now what. They began to ask God, maybe this continuing difficulty IS put in our lives to grow from it. They prayed over arthritis and said, we don't like it. It doesn't seem to be going away - God give me strength to do what You would have me do.
Here is a quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on tragedy: "The odd thing is that those who are most deeply involved … are most aware of two things: a kind of strength and vision just to go on; and a sense of the imperative for practical service and love. Somehow in all of this, God simply emerges for them as a faithful presence."
Some of the ways we don't ask God, in our asking, would be (taken from an article by Wayne Jacobsen, in blue):
The trivial: "Let's pray I can get over this cold" or "Give us a rain-free day for the church picnic." (I disagree here - the Scriptures say to pray for everything and then thank Him for His answers.)
The self-motivated: "My brother's unit just got called up to go to Iraq. Let's pray he won't have to go." While I can understand the emotion behind the request, it is still misplaced. If he's in the military, why shouldn't he go? God's purposes frequently include hardship and risk. Should we ask him to trump his purposes for our convenience? (Wayne Jacobsen goes on to say, pray the fear of his family and their peace. Pray for safety.)
The controlling: "Don't let my daughter move in with her boyfriend" As with Kris' request, I think we're spitting into the wind if we ask God to make other people act according to our will. He doesn't even force people to adhere to his will. Why should he make them act according to ours? (Pray for God to be known to the daughter, that she might want to live in his Love and let her actions reflect His holiness.)
The manipulative: Not all prayer requests are directed at God. We're usually more diplomatic about it than Charissa, who was only four years old, but knew what she wanted. "Jesus, would you help Bob and Laurie learn how to spank their children, so their kids won't hit me when I come over?" I'll admit it worked for Charissa, but I don't think prayer was intended to send subtle (or not so subtle) messages to the faithful.
The blaming: A group in my former church was praying for an infertile woman. They thought she wasn't getting pregnant because her husband wasn't godly enough be a good father. So they asked God to change him. She blamed him and tried to manipulate him to change, and by the time she came to see me, she was incredibly frustrated. I told her I thought they'd missed the point. None of us qualify for God's gifts. If God waited until everyone was ready to have a baby, no one would ever give birth. (Being asked to pray for something we feel is too hard or not God's will. Remember the men willing to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus by cutting the roof apart.)
The mass-produced: I don't know why we think we have a better chance of getting prayers answered if more people are in on it. Like many of you, I receive prayer requests on the Internet begging me to pray for people I don't know, about needs I'm not involved in. God's answers to prayer are not based on a tally sheet. Prayer was designed for two or three faithful believers to focus on, agree, and fervently intercede, rather than enlisting large numbers of uninvolved people. (I do believe God loves to hear more people like the centurion who had people prevail for him to Jesus. But God knows us. One prayer is all it takes. Jesus heard Zacchaeus and Nathaniel . It isn't a popularity contest.)
I loved this article, even if I didn't agree with every part.
The bottom line would be - how to have more prayers answered. But it isn't the bottom line. Our prayers are answered. When we ask. I know my great-aunt Hazel prayed for her only child to come home safely from World War I. And William was killed. I know God heard her prayers. Hazel talked about William a lot She really enjoyed remembering him. My mother told me Aunt Hazel talked of William more than my mom thought she should. Aunt Hazel had William's painting painted. And it went to another cousin, after Aunt Hazel passed on, who became ill and William's painting was thrown to be given away or thrown away. An uncle was asked if he wanted to travel 6 hours to look over everything being put out. There was William's portrait.
My uncle took it and asked our family in Franklinton, LA (where William lived) if there would be a good place for William's painting. And it was given to our cousin, who is the town librarian and she herself lost an infant son. When she passes on, William's painting will hang in the Franklinton, LA Library because William died defending his country.
That is effective prayer. Father God had a plan. Father God was asked for mercy, for safety. How do we know? Hazel lived her life remembering the blessing William was to her. Certainly, she wanted William with her, but she was able to take the blessing of having a son and be glad, grateful. The Fruit of that Spirit is also - my uncle happened to decide to drive the 6 hours to look at what was being put away. He petitioned the family and found someone who would treasure a lost son. A cousin who is a librarian, where William will be remembered for his ultimate sacrifice.
And then there is my mother's friend a psychologist loosing her vision from hereditary weak blood vessels and glaucoma. Determined God would give her a miracle. And He did. Recovered sight without medication or surgery.
Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Christians ought to respond as the Bible does. "A faithful Christian response will affirm the true character and power of God—his omnipotence and his benevolence. God is in control of the entire universe. And God's goodness and love are beyond question. The Bible leaves no room for equivocation on either truth. … We must speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Scripture is silent. Christians must avoid offering explanations when God has not revealed an explanation."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-28 (Listen)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The dove image was used twice for emphasis!