We should never underestimate the power of prayer. Jesus told two parables about prayer that have always stood out to me. In Luke 11, he tells of a man who knocks on his neighbor’s door late at night to ask for bread. Of course, it’s late at night, so the neighbor refuses to get out of bed to help him. But the guy knocks again and again. He’s relentless. He simply will not leave until his neighbor answers the door. In the end, the neighbor gets up and gives him bread.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells of a poor widow who seeks the help of a wicked judge. The judge doesn’t care anything about her plight. He’s not a just man. But the woman won’t leave him alone. She petitions and petitions until he finally says, “Okay. Enough is enough. I’ll help you.”
The Bible teaches us to pray relentlessly. We are to pound on the door of heaven until God gives us an answer. He may not give us the answer we want, but we should return to his throne of grace until he gives us something. You and I are in constant combat. We are fighting Satan, a corrupt society, and even our own divided self. The truth is, we’re even fighting God. If you don’t like the sound of that, let me rephrase it: We are struggling with God. In Genesis 32, Jacob literally wrestled with God. In this constant warfare, we need to pray without ceasing.
Is prayer effective? Let me share with you a story about Martin Luther’s good friend and assistant in the ministry. In the year 1540, Luther’s friend was dying. The physicians gave him a very short time to live. When Luther found out about it, he wrote a letter to his friend that most of us would never think to write. In the letter, he said:
I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church. … The Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God.
What audacity. Right? I’m not sure that I would call it, audacity. It may stretch us out of our comfort zones, but I would call it, boldness, and boldness is a good thing. By the way, Luther’s friend survived. He lived six more years, dying about two months after Luther.
We need confident, bold prayer lives. If you believe what Paul says about you in the first two chapters of Ephesians, then your prayers should reflect that. Pray like a child of God, an heir of God. Pray like you believe God is listening and cares about your struggles. Pray as though you believe God will answer because he does. He answers according to the riches of his glory (Eph 3:16).
We’re not told that God gives out of his riches, but that he gives according to his riches. Do you see the difference? If Warren Buffet gives out of his riches, he may give only a dollar. Technically, that dollar comes out of the billions of dollars that Warren Buffet has. But if he gives according to his riches, he gives—how much? He gives billions. He gives an amount that is comparable to all that he has, his entire net worth. God gives according to his riches, not out of his riches. He gives it all. He gives abundantly.