If God loves me, why is praying so difficult? Why does it appear that God doesn’t hear my prayer sometimes? These are genuine questions that we struggle with. Jesus gave two parables that could help answer these questions—1) parable of the importunate widow (Luke 18:1-8); and 2) the parable of the knock at midnight (Luke 11:5-13). I will reference the latter one.
Jesus gave the parable of the “Knock at Midnight” to explain this mysterious nature of prayer after His disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus gave them what is popularly known as the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “model prayer” as a guide for how they should pray (Luke 11:2-4). But Jesus knew that having the correct ‘mechanics’ of prayer was not enough to sustain them. They needed to understand the importance of perseverance in prayer; hence He gave them this parable.
In the parable, friend #2 went to friend #1 (at midnight) to borrow three loaves of bread, because friend #3 came by and friend #2 had nothing to give him. However, friend #1 was not amused and would not get up to help friend #2. However, friend #2 did not give up; he kept persistently asking until friend #1 was so embarrassed, he had to get up and help friend #2. So, friend #2 did not get through merely based on friendship but based on persistence.
So, by this parable, Jesus taught that though God is our Friend, at times, we will not get through merely based on friendship, but by perseverance in prayer. Why is this necessary? One author puts it this way, “If there was no devil there would be no difficulty in prayer”[i]. We need to understand, that if prayer had merely to do with us and God alone, prayer would be an easy matter. But we do not only have an Advocate with the Father; we also have an adversary who works day and night to hinder our prayers (Revelation 12:10; Zechariah 3:1).
That is why we need to persevere. That is why we need to PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens) and not give up when our prayers are not answered as we desire. Like Daniel, whose answer to prayer was hindered for three weeks, we need to hold on, until our breakthrough comes (Daniel 10).
[i] Anonymous, The Kneeling Christian (Kindle Edition) (The Fig Classic Series, 2012), 59