Immediately after giving His disciples a model prayer, Jesus taught them, through the parable of a friend at midnight (Luke 11:5-13), the need for persistent prayer. Then, as He neared the end of His ministry, He reminded His followers of the need for penitence and humility in prayer (Luke 18:9-14).
Both of these parables show that prayer is not just a religious routine, but a persistent walking, talking, and living with the Father.
Read Luke 11:5-8. Jesus told this parable to encourage perseverance in prayer. Prayer should not become a routine. Instead, prayer should be the foundation of a relationship-of absolute, persistent, and continual reliance on God. Prayer is the breath of the soul: without it, we are spiritually dead. Jesus tells the parable of a neighbor who refuses to be neighborly. The continuous pleas of his friend for a loaf of bread to meet a midnight emergency go in vain. But finally, even such a neighbor gives up and yields to the persistence of the continuous midnight knocks. How much more would God be toward someone persistent in prayer? Such persistence is not to change God’s mind but to strengthen our trust.
Read Luke 18:9-14. What’s the crucial lesson here about prayer?
The Pharisee expected God to endorse him on the basis of what he had done, his works of righteousness. The publican threw himself at God’s mercy and pleaded for acceptance on the basis of God’s grace. God’s acceptance comes to us not on the basis of who or what we are but through His grace alone. Only those who are penitent, humble, and broken in spirit can receive that grace.
Meekness and lowliness are the conditions of success and victory. A crown of glory awaits those who bow at the foot of the cross.-Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 590.
People who have not known the Lord tend to compare themselves to those who are, supposedly, worse than they are, all in order to convince themselves that they are not so bad. Why is that such a spiritual deception? What does it matter if others are worse than we are?