It's confusing to know how to pray. Luke 11:8 seems to say we should keep praying until we receive an answer, but then I've heard we should not doubt and simply pray and believe without continuing to ask (Romans 14:23). Is one way better than another? Is there a balance?
ESV - 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
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Aside from the question of faith, Jesus made clear in other verses (such as Matthew 6:7-8) that God knows everything we need before we ask him, and He advised His followers against "piling up" words in the belief that it would make God more likely to hear them. I think that, in the passage from Luke cited in the question, Jesus' emphasis was not on the need to pray continually, but on contrasting God's willingness and responsiveness in hearing and answering prayer with the reluctance or slowness that a human might feel or exhibit (even if the human does eventually respond to the one in need). (In Luke 18:1-8 (on basically the same subject), He was more explicit about this.)
I see this question being asked on this site in a few different ways, but it's the same question: 'Should we continue to pray for God to intervene in our lives in areas we've already spoken to Him about? Should we trust in our prayer enough to not keep praying about it?' I've never looked at prayer that way. Are we to have a "game plan" before we present ourselves before the Lord in prayer? I don't think I have ever preplanned my course of action for prayer. If I'm suddenly thrown into the fires of life I usually reflexively cry out to God for help. If there's a school shooting (God forbid), instant prayer for God to help is a reflex.That's one kind of prayer. No time to punctuate and check my grammar. Then there's the kind of almost ritual prayer being asked about here, the morning devotion kind. Do we need an outline prepared before we begin talking to God? I've never had one. There are circumstances in my life that looms preeminent in my thoughts automatically. I have an 86 year old mother. There's no way I can tell myself to refrain from, first, thanking God for her daily bread that He gives her, and then thanking Him for continuing to comfort her in her elderly years. That's automatic. My wife, children, and my grandchildren... my two brothers and their families.... automatic. By the time I've gotten that far with God, I usually feel a little guilty for my focus being so self centered, and the Spirit steers me in the direction of the community. It's almost like He says "what about others, your neighbors, other elderly people, the sick and shut in, the burgeoning prison population, and so on..." This is a daily routine, for lack of a better way to describe it. The use of the word "routine" makes prayer of this kind sound rote, being done from memory. If remembering my elderly mother, wife, children, grandchildren and brothers in prayer is a negative thing, then so be it. But I think not. Like I said above, after my "automatic" petition, the Spirit of God usually reminds me that He remembers and is concerned about all those others I named, and other situations I didn't list. In other words, I like it when He takes over.. Likewise the Spirit helps in our weaknesses. "For we do not know what we are to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26) The key word is "likewise:" Vs. 22 - We know that the whole creation groans... vs. 23 we ourselves groan... and the Spirit likewise groans. He who searches the hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:27,28). I don't think we need a "game plan" for effective prayer, keeping up with whether we are in faith praying, or routinely talking to God, or whatever the case. God tells us right here through the apostle Paul, "You don't know how to pray effectively. But don't worry about it, I gotcha." I realized from the start of my new life that I was never going to be in control anymore. I would have to learn to trust and depend on "He who began a good work in [me]" (Phil 1:6). He never leaves us to fend for ourselves, even when we pray to Him (Heb 13:5). Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16). Ask any cowboy who had to learn to round up stray cows and drive them back to the herd, and he'll tell you, 'The key to it is to relax and allow the horse to do the work.'
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