Today, Jesus teaches that we should pray with persistence (Luke 11:5-13). Of course, the question comes to mind: if God is such a loving and caring parent who will only give “good” things to us, why do we have to persist in asking? Why do we have to ask at all? The reason is not because God needs persuading. Persistence in prayer is for our benefit.
There are a number of ways of praying persistently. One is to keep begging God to give us something we want or that we think we need. Another is to think that somehow we can manipulate God or put him under some kind of obligation by asking him repeatedly. (So, if I do a nine-day novena and say certain prayers each day, I may expect that God is obligated to give me what I am asking for.)
But the kind of prayer that Jesus is talking about is really quite different. Jesus presumes that what we’re asking for is the gift of God’s Spirit – “How much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Is that what we normally ask for?
I‘ve found that a great deal of my praying focuses on asking God to change the things that would make life more pleasing or better for me or someone else. In other words, we often ask God to do our will – “Lord, not your will but mine be done.”
But when we ask God for the Spirit in prayer, we are asking to have the same Spirit that inspired Jesus in his life and work. It is the Spirit which helps us to be more like Jesus so that we may grow in the likeness of the Father and that our will might be brought into alignment with His – and that is what prayer is all about.
The greatest gift that God has for us is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us persistently ask for the Spirit. The more we pray for this the more likely it will become a reality in our lives.