When Jesus gives this statement in Luke 11, He precedes it with a short story about neighbors and hospitality. As Jesus tells it, a man has a late-night visitor from a far country and wants to offer him traditional hospitality by feeding him after such a journey. But it is now on him to find food at such a late hour. He goes to his neighbor’s house and knocks on the door. He continues knocking despite his neighbor’s protests of being in bed and his family being in bed. Nevertheless, the first man’s persistence gets the door open and the bread transferred.
Then Jesus tells us this short statement about persistence in prayer. Since Matthew doesn’t include the short story about the door, it is a bit of a mystery. What door is He talking about? With Luke’s addition, it seems obvious that the door is a reference to the door in the parable. This is a door that is shut to you and will only be opened with persistent knocking. However, I don’t think there are any similarities intended between God and the sleeping neighbor. Psalm 121:4 says He does not sleep. The point here is persistence in prayer.
There will be times where it will seem God is not hearing your prayers because He is not answering them right away. Jesus is not condemning the nature of the requests here. In fact, Jesus is encouraging the continued asking, knocking and seeking. Your request may not be something God wants to fulfill right now. It may not even be something He intends to fulfill, but you are encouraged to present it with persistence anyway. We are to be an everpresent Sheldon knocking on God’s door because when we pray, we don’t have time for sin, temptation, or anything that will trip up our walk with God. God intends for us to pray without ceasing, even if our prayers are petty, tiny, or lame.
As parents, we can get annoyed with our children because of their constant requests for things and activities. As parents, we need to work, have projects that we are working on and so forth. But with God, we are His agenda. We are His work, His project, His world. If every waking moment was spent asking God, He wouldn’t mind. He loves spending that time with us, even if we are angry with Him, for even then, every moment we spend with Him makes us more like Him.
Father God, coming to you today and every day is a special appointment. You make our world, our whole life meaningful. And when we come to you with a request once or a thousand times, You still listen. You care what we have to say, no matter how silly we think it is. We learn to talk by talking to our parents. Surely it is the same with you, that the more we pray, the better we are able to speak to You and listen to Your words. Would you listen again to Your people this day? Would You listen to our every petty word and silly request? Would You help us to be more like You Lord because You are awesome and full of majesty? Would you please hear Your people pray today? In Jesus’ Name, Amen.