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Knocking at Midnight (How Should I Pray to God?)

In this first episode of our new podcast, we'll see what it means to Knock Relentlessly for God. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. The model prayer and illustration that follows should help us all to learn how to pray so that God will listen.



It was the middle of the night. He heard an unexpected knocking on the door. “Not now.” He thought. “Just go away. I’ll take care of it tomorrow.” But the knocking just kept on persisting, growing louder and louder. Now he was awake. He saw that his wife and his kids were starting to stir. He recognized the muffled sound of his neighbor through the door, “I need your help. I need some bread.” He yelled out, “Go away, we’re all in bed. It’s too late!” But the knocking wouldn’t stop. Apparently, whatever his neighbor wanted, it was really important to him. He wasn’t going to stop until he got what he needed.

 

Podcast Intro

Hello everybody. This is the Relentlessly Knocking podcast. I’m Scott Ihle, and I’m the Executive Director of Logos Answers, and the missionary in residence at Woodstock church of Christ in Atlanta, GA. Jesus told His disciples that if they knock, the door would be opened for them. And on this podcast we are knocking relentlessly and unapologetically as we try to discover the truth about God the Creator, the Anointed Son of God, Jesus, and their Spirit-inspired Word as found in the Bible.

 

Jesus taught His disciples what to pray for.

Have you ever wondered, “How should I pray to God?”  Traveling throughout the world, I have seen people pray in a lot of different ways. Some people pray silently within their own thoughts. Some people stretch out their hands and yell up at the sky. I have seen some praying with burning incense. I have seen others chanting, dancing, kneeling face down on the ground, or writing it down on a tiny piece of paper, rolling it up and placing it in a crack in the wall.

 

People also say things differently in their prayers. Some repeat the same phrase over and over again. Some pray as if talking to a friend. Others pray as if talking to a bank teller trying to make a withdrawal.

 

So, it should be no surprise that one of Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray. This is what Jesus suggested we should say to God in our prayers, “Father, may your name be honored; may your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And do not lead us into temptation” (Luke 11:2–4, NET).

 

First, notice the simplicity of this prayer. The point is not in the exact words to say, but rather in the basic content. The components of a good prayer should 1) give honor to God, 2) honestly desire that He rule over your life and over the world, 3) ask for the basic provision you need for that day, 4) seek forgiveness of your sins and the forgiveness of others, and 5) lean on the power and guidance of God to keep you away from evil influences. Is it possible that we can pray for other things? For sure. But here, Jesus is emphasizing our most basic needs in the context of God’s will. Because sometimes, if we’re overly concerned about something, we may pray relentlessly for that thing, but also, sometimes in our prayers, we may become so overly concerned about ourselves that we forget about God’s worthiness, sovereignty, provision, mercy, and power. This simple prayer reminds us of what God’s priorities are.

 

But how badly do you actually want it?

But Jesus doesn’t stop there telling his disciples what to pray for. He continues with this illustration of how to pray. He emphasizes that when we pray to God about these important priorities, we need to be relentless in pursuing God in prayer.

 

Jesus says,

Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs (Luke 11:5–8).

 

The idea being conveyed here is that if you really need something, you will go ask for it again and again. You feel like you need it so bad that you’re willing to go bother your friend in the middle of the night. That can be quite embarrassing. Of course, you don’t want to bother your friend and embarrass yourself. But, you want it so badly. You feel like you can’t live without it, and you will not give up easily. You will be bold and relentless.

 

In your own life, how bold and relentless are you in your pursuit of God’s priorities?

 

We have a lot of distractions in this life, keeping us from approaching God in the right way.

Pursuing God and His priorities is the most satisfying and rewarding way you can live your live. Your efforts will never be wasted on God. So, you should be willing to put in the effort to get to know Him and to seek His will in your prayers. If we have a father, or a friend, who we love, we’ll be persistent in trying to grow close to them, right? It should be no different if we’re talking about our heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe. We should want what He has to offer more than anything else.

 

Unfortunately, other things can get in the way. We may spend more of our time pursuing other dreams. Or, there may be bad behaviors that keep us down. We may even choose to place other people we love before God, or we may be ashamed of God around other people. When these other priorities get in the way, we won’t be as diligent at looking for Him and seeking His ways through prayer. We won’t care enough to knock shamelessly and relentlessly in the middle of the night.

 

Jesus taught His disciples that if they were persistent in seeking God in prayer, they would find what they were looking for.

Now, not just any prayer we throw up to God is going to be answered. Remember, God is not a bank teller or an ATM machine. Our prayers should ideally be according to His will.

 

But also, God wants us to believe deeply and to depend on Him and His teachings before He responds to us in big ways. So, if we are desiring, relentless, and unwavering, He’ll give us what we need.

 

Jesus continues by saying, “So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10).

 

Jesus says we need to be seeking God diligently, and He’ll give us what we’re looking for.

 

Another passage in the Bible echoes this same idea. Psalm 145:18–20 says, “Yahweh is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will work out the desire of those who fear Him; He will hear their cry for help and He will save them. Yahweh keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy” (LSB). Yahweh is our God and Creator, and He wants to care for His creation. He wants to provide for our life, but He also wants us to turn to Him wholeheartedly. If we turn away from God, then He won’t hear our prayers. However, if we pursue Him relentlessly, we will find Him.

 

Conclusion

Are you diligent in going to your Heavenly Father in prayer? Do you eagerly desire the same things that God desires for you and your life? Are you knocking relentlessly? If so, you will learn that it is worth the shame and effort. He will open the door for you. You will find what you are looking for.


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