Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
How much prayer is too much prayer? If Jesus is our measuring stick, then none of us is in danger of praying too much.
Luke tells us in his gospel that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Luke emphasizes more than any other gospel writer how much time our Savior spent in prayer. He’s the one, for instance, who describes most powerfully the intensity of Jesus’ prayers to his heavenly Father on the night before he died. We’re told how “being in anguish, [Jesus] prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Simply put, Jesus prayed frequently and with great earnestness.
Luke also tells us that once, when “Jesus was praying in a certain place,” one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). It wasn’t as if Jesus’ disciples didn’t know how to pray. They certainly understood the process. They had undoubtedly grown up in mostly faithful Jewish families and had learned from their fathers and mothers how to pray. Like Jesus, it was their custom to go to the synagogue on the weekly Sabbath, so they could hear the Word of God and practice fellowship of prayer with their fellow Jews.
So, if they knew how to pray, what were they asking Jesus to teach them? They wanted to know how to pray like their Savior! When they compared their lives of prayer to the Savior’s, they instantly recognized that theirs paled in comparison. Clearly, Jesus knew and understood something about prayer that they did not. They wanted to taste his secret sauce for prayer.
And when Jesus did teach them and us about prayer, what point did he emphasize more than any other? Persistence! Don’t give up so easily or quickly when you don’t receive the immediate answer you want. A life of persistent, unanswered prayers is its own benefit and blessing!
How often should we pray? Jesus’ answer is both simple and profound. He urges us to pray always!
Jesus, grant me a rich measure of faith through your Spirit and lead me to pray continually for every good thing from you. Amen.