It doesn’t seem that praying should be all that hard. It certainly isn’t when you are in trouble.
Lord help me comes quickly enough. And we probably have some childhood prayers we memorized. The first prayer I can recall is
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take. Then I added a few
God blesses on the end. I still am not sure why someone thought little kids should be praying about dying in their sleep. That gave me a few bad moments.
But I gather prayer is not all that simple, because the disciples of Jesus came to him and asked him to teach them to pray. What he gave them is utter simplicity—the Lord’s prayer. With a little simplification, it is a better prayer for kids to memorize than
If I should die before I wake. In any case, the question the disciples asked led to a discourse beyond the Lord’s prayer and it raises some fascinating questions. After giving them the Lord’s prayer Jesus continued with an illustration:
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Now in context, there is only one way to understand this. He that keeps on asking will receive. To him that keeps on knocking, it shall be opened. But why? Why is it necessary to persevere, to agonize in prayer? Why can’t we just ask once and receive?