“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9 – 10
I once heard a priest talk about these verses in the Bible. He said, “The way the verbs in Greek are, in literal English they would translate: ‘I command you to ask and keep asking, to seek and keep on seeking, to knock and keep on knocking.’ He went on to say, “Faith is like a muscle and muscles grow strong by being resisted.”
That always stayed with me. So many times we start praying for something: for someone’s conversion, for reconciliation in a ruptured relationship, for a job, for a good spouse, for financial blessing, etc. etc. We might stay on it for a time, but if we don’t receive results within what we think is a reasonable window, we can be tempted to give up and quit praying in faith.
I think we give up too soon.
Say you want to get into better shape, to tone up your muscles and get fit. You might go to a personal trainer who gives you some instructions: “Okay, do these exercises; use this weight machine in this way.” You’re motivated and you follow the advice. What if after a week or two, you don’t notice any difference except that your body aches? What if you say, “Forget it. These exercises (or weight machines) don’t work.” What would your trainer say? “Toughen up. Get back to work.”
Our muscles grow stronger, little by little, through resistance and perseverance. So, too, does our faith. Our faith grows strong by being resisted.
Faith takes determination and persistence
Our society and modern culture work against us developing our faith muscles. We live in an “instant gratification” era with labor-saving devices and services abounding. We have:
- remote controls to operate the TV, lights, air conditioners, etc.
- microwave dinners, boxed cake mixes, instant food – no cooking from scratch if we prefer
- drive-thru everything: banks, fast food, dry cleaners, coffee
- shopping online for everything with delivery to our front doors
We expect things to come right away, with free delivery. But go back to Luke 11 again. “Ask, and keep asking….”
Some people pray a couple of times for something, and when nothing happens say, “God doesn’t hear my prayers.” And they give up praying. But God is not a vending machine. We can’t just put some coins in and expect an answered prayer to come out.
God has many reasons for delaying an answer. Have we ever asked Him why a certain prayer of ours is not getting answered?
I have a couple of 5 gallon water bottles that I take to get filled with purified water. I bring the refilled bottles back home, and in order for me to get the water out of it to drink, I use a pump. Now when I push down on the pump, nothing happens the first time. I have to repeatedly push down on it before the water starts to come out the spout.
That’s a good illustration for persistent prayer. Say the water represents God’s blessings and graces, His answers to our prayers. Well the pump can symbolize our prayer. If we just pray once or twice, it could seem like nothing happens. But maybe God wants to teach us something in the delay, Maybe He wants us to examine how or what we are praying for. Maybe He has something better in mind.
God wants our faith muscles to develop. And most of all He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.
Take a moment and review what you have been praying for lately. Are there some intentions that you’ve lost heart on? Are you getting discouraged? Have you thrown in the towel and given up on certain requests?
Spend some time going over your various prayer requests and ask the Lord if there is anything He wants to say about any of them. Maybe you are just called to hang tough and persevere. Maybe you need to tweak a specific intention. Maybe you need to pray in a different direction entirely.
Remember, God is faithful! He loves to hear and answer our prayers.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32