Monday, November 16, 2009

Persistence in Prayer

Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him'. "Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything'. I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened." Luke 11:5-10

As I was reading my Bible this scripture stood out to me. I felt I was supposed to write something about it, but I didn't know where to begin. So I wrote it down and began to meditate on it and pray for God to explain it to me. I wanted to know what persistence in prayer really meant. I felt it was interesting that this is part of the passage where Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. I feel Jesus wanted us to understand the importance of persistence/boldness in prayer. But what is boldness? The meaning of boldness according to my dictionary/concordance is "fearless before danger; self-assured. It is important to note that boldness and persistence are used in the same context in this scripture. So why are we to persist in prayer? There is a point in our prayer life that we can become tired, lazy, or even fearful, especially when everything around us is bleak and we don't see an answer to our prayers forthcoming. We may just want to give up, but it is then that we need to press in all the more. We need to remember God loves us and desires to give us good things. Luke 11:11-13 says "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

God already knows what we need, persistence helps us to recognize our need and the power of God. Then even if the answer isn't exactly what we asked for we can recognize it and know it is what we needed. This is seen in the life of a man in the Bible named Simeon. In Luke 2:25-32 it says, Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying; Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel".

Simeon was an old man. It is hard to tell how long he prayed for the consolation of Israel. And I'm sure he probably wasn't praying for a little baby born in a stable. Simeon persisted in prayer. He didn't go before God thinking he already knew what was needed but he believed God did. Simeon had boldness and because of his boldness he received an answer to his prayer and recognized it when it came. He was not moved when years had passed and he didn't see it and he didn't dismiss it when it wasn't exactly what he had asked for. This finally came to me the other night when we watched a movie called Facing the Giants. The character who stood out to me was not the coach or the players, although their story is inspiring. But it was the old man, who for years walked the halls of the school touching each locker and praying for revival for each student. For years he didn't see an answer, in fact things got worse before they got better, but still he prayed. At one point, when the coach was wondering when things would get better, this man came to him and gave him a word of encouragement from the Lord. When the coach questioned him about it he told him the story of two farmers, both in need of rain. Both prayed for rain but only one prepared his field to receive it. Both farmers probably prayed for rain over and over, but only one had the boldness to prepare his field for it even when it didn't look like he would get it. That's persistence. I believe persistence is more than just asking for something over and over, it is continuing in prayer, believing and preparing to receive an answer having boldness (self assurance) that God will give us what we need when we need it.

Kim Ratcliffe

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