DRAW CLOSE TO GOD
“Keep On Asking, and It Will Be Given You”
“Lord, teach us how to pray.” (Luke 11:1) That request was put to Jesus by one of his disciples. As part of his response, Jesus related two illustrations that teach us how to pray and be heard by God. If you have ever wondered whether God hears your prayers, you will be interested in Jesus’ reply.—Read Luke 11:5-13.
The first illustration focuses on the one who prays. (Luke 11:5-8) In the story, a man receives a guest late at night and has no food to set before him. To the host, the matter is urgent. Despite the hour, he goes to a friend’s house in order to borrow some bread. At first, the friend is reluctant to get up because his family is fast asleep with him. But with unembarrassed persistence, the determined host keeps asking until finally his friend gets up and gives him some provisions.a
What does the illustration teach us about prayer? Jesus is telling us that we need to be persistent—to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. (Luke 11:9, 10) Why? Is Jesus suggesting that when we pray we are, in effect, pounding at the door of a reluctant God? No. Jesus’ point is that unlike the hesitant friend, God is eager to grant the proper requests of those who pray in faith. We show such faith by our persistence. By repeatedly asking, we reveal that we really need what we are asking for and that we truly believe that God can grant it—if that is his will.—Mark 11:24; 1 John 5:14.
The second illustration focuses on the “Hearer of prayer,” Jehovah. (Psalm 65:2) Jesus asks: “Which father is there among you who, if his son asks for a fish, will perhaps hand him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he also asks for an egg, will hand him a scorpion?” The answer is obvious—no caring father gives harmful things to his children. Then, Jesus applies the illustration: If imperfect human fathers “give good gifts” to their children, “how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit”—the best of gifts—to his earthly children who ask him!b—Luke 11:11-13; Matthew 7:11.
God is eager to grant the proper requests of those who pray in faith
What does this illustration teach us about Jehovah, the “Hearer of prayer”? Jesus invites us to see Jehovah as a caring Father who is eager to respond to the needs of his children. Hence, Jehovah’s worshippers can feel free to approach him with the requests of their heart. And knowing that he wants what is best for them, they can readily accept his answer to their request, even if the answer is not what they expected.c
Suggested Bible reading for April
a Jesus’ illustration reflects real-life customs and practices. The Jews viewed showing hospitality as a sacred duty. A family baked enough bread for a day, so borrowing was common if the supply ran out. Also, if they were poor, the whole family slept on the floor in a single room.
b Jesus often used a “how much more so” line of reasoning—arguing from the lesser to the greater. One scholar explains: “The argument runs, ‘If A is true, then how much more will B be true also.’”
c To learn more about how to pray and be heard by God, see chapter 17 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.