What is Important to You?
In Luke 11:1, the disciples of Jesus requested that He teach them to pray, as John had taught his disciples. After giving the form, or the skeleton, of an acceptable prayer, Jesus proceeded to put flesh on the skeleton He had provided. He tells a story of a friend who comes at an inconvenient hour with an urgent request: three loaves of bread for a guest. Because of his persistence, this friend would be given what he needs. Jesus follows this story by reasoning that God will give what is needed to those who make requests of Him.
Jesus implies that one who prays to God ought to pray persistently. The persistence of the needy friend in the late hours of the night shows his desperation and urgency. The response he received would carry consequences for him, and so he kept asking because the request was of the highest importance to him.
Prayer is a serious tool; it tugs on the ears of God and requests His action. To say that God will give us whatever we ask, as long as we ask persistently, is to misapply the teaching Jesus gave. Jesus is instructing His followers that they should make requests which are important enough to make twice and three times again. If the answer to your prayer does not matter to you, then perhaps the prayer is not worth praying at all. Why grab hold of the Almighty to request that which is of little importance, even to you? God cares for His creation and responds to our requests. We ought to make requests that matter.
The time may come when a person makes a request to God that seems exceptionally important to them, but which is denied by God time and time again. At that point, the one praying should reexamine their priorities, and what exactly makes this request so important. That examination may correct a less obvious, perhaps even hidden, flaw in a person’s reasoning. It may reveal that the request is not in line with God’s purposes. An adjustment of the request may be beneficial in that moment, to make room for God’s will in all things. As a person continues to learn from and be shaped by the instruction of God’s Word, the things they call important will become mirror images of God’s purposes expressed through His Word. As a result, the prayers they persistently pray will be answered more favorably by God, since they are in agreement with His will.
If your prayers seem ineffective, let the Bible perform an examination of your priorities. Let it show you yourself, exactly as you are, and allow it to transform your mind as you follow its teachings. The result of this process is that you will begin praying for things which are of first importance within the will of God, because those same things have taken first place in your mind as well.