Ask a Pastor Column

Presenting biblical answers to tough questions

 

March 11, 2024



Q: Some Bible passages tell us to ‘pester’ God with our prayers, others say that 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 that 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, Kansas, then tell another to drive east to get to the same place, it can seem like a contradiction. Until I tell you that the first person lives in Belleville and the second lives in Smith Center! Just like learning that Mankato is west of Belleville, east of Smith Center, and north of Jewell 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 that 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 that 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 that we should pray persistently and in faith, Matthew teaches that we should not pray in legalism or hollow repetition. No contradiction!

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Let us know what you think of the ask a pastor articles! If you’ve found them helpful in any way, been blessed by an article, or have any thoughts on how we could make it better, let us know by sending an email to askapastor [email protected] or by mail to Formoso Church; P.O. Box 66; Formoso, Kansas 66942. And, as always, feel free to send us your Bible questions!

 

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