Persistence is Modeled in the Bible
I was reading through Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge, and the reading for the day was the story of the persistent widow.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus shares a parable of how a widow comes before a judge with bad character. At first he ignores her, but the widow just won’t be ignored. She persists until the judge finally gives her her request.
“For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection; otherwise, by continually coming she will wear me out.” Luke 18: 4, 5.
Jesus goes on to say that if a wicked judge would grant this widow’s request, then how much more will God – who is perfectly good- answer our prayers when we persist.
Persistence Often Doesn’t Come Easily
I don’t know about you, but persistence in prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. It feels, well, almost like I’m being rude or something. Like I’m somehow pestering God by coming to Him over and over with the same request.
Yet, God invites us to pray about things, not just once, but repeatedly. When we come to Him in prayer, it isn’t an easy thing. (You can read about how prayer might be simple but it isn’t easy HERE).
Why Should We Persist in Prayer?
As I was thinking about this post and what we can learn about persistence in prayer, the one thing that I kept circling back around to was why? Why would God want us to pray for the same thing over and over again?
The thing is, prayer isn’t just about getting answers. It’s about changing us and molding us to God’s will in our lives. I don’t know about you, but have you ever prayed for something over a period time. And as time went on, you found your prayer changing until in the end, your request barely resembled those first prayers?
God invites us to petition Him because the more we bring something to God, the more His light shines on whatever it is and the more we lay our own agenda down.
The bottom line is prayer changes us and it changes our relationship to God.
How Do We Know When NOT to Persist?
So, how do we know that God wants us to stop praying about something – that He has answered us?
I think we have a good example in Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says he prayed three times for God to remove a thorn in his flesh. We don’t know what this thorn was, but some speculate it had to do with his eyes. Nobody knows for sure though.
It was after this third time that God specifically told Paul He wasn’t removing that thorn and the reason why. Only after God spoke to him did Paul stop praying.
What does this mean for us?
I think it means that means a few things for us. The first thing is that, sometimes, when we think God hasn’t answered, it’s not because He is saying no. It’s actually that He hasn’t answered at all.
The second thing is I believe a lot of the powerlessness in prayer is not because prayer doesn’t have power. But it is because of a lack of persistence on our part.
The third thing is that we need to persistently pray about something until God gives us an answer or He specifically tells us to stop.
Finally, we need to pray with an open heart and mind. Maybe God is trying to change our perspective or get us to submit to His will and not insist on our own way. Prayer is powerful – not just in what it accomplished out in the world, but in what it accomplishes in us.
Do you struggle with praying persistently? I’d love to hear about it!