"Then [Jesus] turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil'" (Luke 7:44-46).
IF OUR LOVE FOR GOD WERE TO BE JUDGED BY THE INTENSITY AND THE PERSISTENCE OF OUR PRAYING, HOW APPARENT WOULD IT BE THAT WE ARE GRATEFUL TO HIM? The woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head had an obvious love for Him. As she literally clung to the Lord, her actions showed that she appreciated what forgiveness meant. On the other hand, Simon, the Lord's host on that occasion, paid far less personal attention to Jesus. He failed to see the depth of his need for what Jesus had to offer.
We are taught not only to pray, but to pray with persistence, fervently expressing our desires. In teaching His disciples about prayer, Jesus "spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). Persistence in prayer is not for God's benefit but for ours. We need, as someone has said, to "batter the very gates of heaven with storms of prayer." It must be with conviction of heart that we approach our King: "Alone to God with faith draw near, approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the power of prayer" (Charles Wesley).
No doubt one of the main reasons we get so little out of prayer is that we put so little into it. The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing long ago advised: "Attempt to penetrate the darkness above you. Toss sharp darts of desiring love at that thick cloud of unknowing." The God whom we worship will not be manipulated by the prayers of those who are merely curious. He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently (Hebrews 11:6), not of those who seek Him casually or conveniently.
Out of all the things we do, praying is surely one of the most significant. In prayer we are actually speaking to our Creator. And the manner in which we pray, perhaps more than anything else, indicates how diligent we are in our love for God.
"It is only when the whole heart is gripped with the passion of prayer that the life-giving fire descends, for none but the earnest man gets access to the ear of God" (Edward McKendree Bounds).