In order to develop a deeper relationship with God we have to learn to deal with the times when it feels like God just isn’t answering our prayers and our needs are being ignored.
The first teaching to consider is illustrated in a parable known as the parable of the Persistent Widow. In this parable Jesus talks about a judge, described as not fearing God nor man (Luke 18:2), who is approached by a widow with a genuine grievance.
When she is initially ignored she approaches the judge again and again requesting assistance and refusing to become discouraged. Although we are not told the reason why the judge didn’t answer right away, we are informed he finally relents: “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me (verse 5).”
At the beginning of this parable Luke reveals the reason Christ related it: “Then He [speaking of Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart (verse 1).”
And, very importantly, at the end of the parable we are reassured God will always look out for us: “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? (verse 5)”
So when coping with times when God doesn’t seem to answer our prayers, it is important to persevere and not give up.
Another teaching from Jesus Christ about prayer is found in the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew when He tells His disciples “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Asking, seeking, and knocking are all aspects about how we relate to God and also indicates the perseverance and dedication required. And, again, we are reassured about God’s attitude to our request: “… what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
Finally, it is important to note that we are not told God will give us everything we ask for. We do not see the bigger picture as God does, so we should always seek God’s will for the problems we bring to our Creator in prayer, and have faith in the answers we receive. God always has our ultimate welfare and potential in mind.
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