One of the things that serves us in prayer is realizing that we live between two verses. We essentially live between Luke 11:9 and Luke 18:1.
In Luke 11:9 we are commanded by Christ to ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). God loves to give good gifts to his children. When we realize our utter insufficiency and his absolute sufficiency, we want to ask. James reminds us that often we do not have because we fail to simply ask (James 4:2).
If this was all the Bible said about prayer we would be off to the races. The fact is that seven chapters later Jesus told the parable of a persistent widow. Luke 18:1 says, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Persistence is needed because God doesn’t always answer our prayer in the way or time in which we desire. We can lose heart. We can cease asking, seeking and knocking. But Jesus told this parable so that we wouldn’t do that.
So we live our lives between these two great principles of prayer. We need only to ask and God will answer us. But when the answer doesn’t come immediately, we can trust that God is working for our good (Rom. 8:28) and he is working to strengthen our faith in him (Luke 18:8). Persisting in prayer should never cast God in reluctant terms. Dane Ortlund writes, “He is more ready and eager to meet us than we are to meet Him.”
I was reminded of all of this on Saturday. I was working on my car when I couldn’t seem to get a screw back into the hole it just came out of. I tried different tools and I tried at different angles. Ten minutes passed. I told myself how easy a task this was and that I should be able to do this. I examined the parts again. Another five minutes passed with no progress. I prayed only because of my frustration. But in that prayer I recognized that the Lord may want to do more than simply return a screw to its hole. I thanked him for his love for me. Ten seconds later the screw was back in place. I laughed out loud and then thanked the Lord.
There are things I’ve prayed for hundreds of times. I’m learning to persist. Then there are times like this where I pray only once I’ve exhausted all other options. In such cases I am learning to ask. I’m learning to put into practice that God is more ready and eager to meet me than I am to meet him. How are the great truths of Luke 11:9 and Luke 18:1 shaping your prayers?
 Dane Ortlund, A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus, 2008), 157.