Ask a Pastor Column
July 1, 2021
Presenting Biblical answers to tough questions
Q: Some Bible passages tell us to ‘pester’ God with our prayers, others say we should avoid vain repetition and just have faith; what gives? How often should we ask God for what we want?
A: First let me say it’s normal to see a tension between different Bible passages that address a given topic. If I tell one person to drive west to get to Mankato, then tell another to drive east to get to the same place, it can seem like a contradiction. Until I tell you the first person lives in Belleville and the second lives in Smith Center! Just like learning Mankato is west of Belleville, east of Smith Center, and north of Jewel gives us the precise location of the town, so also examining various Bible passages in context can help us understand the precise will of God on a certain topic. In this instance; prayer.
One passage that addresses the frequency of our prayers is Luke 11:5-13. In it Jesus makes an interesting comparison between God and a tired friend who yields to his neighbor because of his persistent asking. Jesus is arguing from the smaller to the greater; if even a grumbling and tired man will yield to persistence, how much more will our loving Heavenly Father speedily answer the pleas of his children (verses 11-13)?! This passage tells us God does reward persistence, and goes on to the familiar promise: “ask and you shall receive.” (Verses 9-10)
The warning against vain repetition is found right before the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:7. In this passage Jesus is warning us not to try to earn God’s favor by mouthing holy words over and over. Jesus reminds us our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him, and gives an example of a simple prayer to pray in faith.
So you see; these two passages really do approach the same truth from different directions. Luke shows us we should pray persistently and in faith, Matthew teaches we should not pray in legalism or hollow repetition. No contradiction!
If you have a question you would like a Biblical answer to, you can send it via email to [email protected] or by mail to Formoso Church; P.O. Box 66; Formoso, Kan. 66942