Prayer

Prayer Requires Persistence

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!

Prayer Is Hard And That’s Okay

Do You Find it Hard to Pray?

Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever noticed that when you start to pray, your focus tends to desert you? Suddenly, your mind wanders to your to do list or what you’re having for dinner or that disagreement you had with your child. Instead of praying, you find yourself worrying or planning your day or, in my case, off in lala land.

Turns out, there’s a reason for that. I noticed that Paul, in the famous passage in Ephesians 6, tells the believers of Ephesus to put on their spiritual armor before he tells them to pray. They have to strap on truth, put on their helmet of salvation, buckle on the breastplate of righteousness and slip into their shoes of the Gospel of peace. They have to get their shield of faith ready because the enemy is sure to start shooting fiery darts, and their swords can’t be just lying around somewhere. That sword has to be in their hands.

In Colossians 4:12, Paul tells the Colossians that Epaphras was “laboring earnestly in his prayers for you.” That word laboring actually means “to contend with adversaries or fight.”

Do You Have the Wrong Idea About Prayer?

Prayer isn’t easy. It’s hard work because the enemy knows there is great power in prayer. He doesn’t want you to actually pray and experience that power. That means, he’ll use whatever means he can to keep you from spending time in prayer.

In many ways, prayer is a form of spiritual fighting. So, it’s really no wonder that it seems to be something believers talk about way more than they actually do.

Am I the only person who has been to a prayer meeting where half the time was spent talking and not praying?

Even our churches, which Jesus said were to be houses of prayer, often teach more about prayer than they do actually praying.

I think the problem is that we have confused the simplicity of prayer with ease in prayer. Because of that confusion, we have not prepared ourselves for the work it takes to carve out a powerful prayer life.

Learning Vs. Applying

This year, I really wanted to focus on what it means to truly be God’s child. There is a passage in 2 Timothy 3:5-7.

Today, we have the blessing of  having so many resources and information. But there is a danger in having all that knowledge at our fingertips. The danger is we keep learning rather than start applying.

Don’t Give Up

Because we expect prayer to be easy, we get discouraged about our prayer lives. We quit almost before we begin, or we resort to shallow, short prayers. We let the busyness in our lives become an excuse to not pray.

And then we wonder why we don’t see any spiritual power in our lives.

This post isn’t about being legalistic or judgmental about prayer. It’s meant as encouragement. Yes, prayer is hard, and it’s not just you that struggles. But can I encourage you to keep at it? We have the opportunity to approach God’s throne any day at any time. God invites us into intimacy with Him.

It’s time to suit up and start fighting on your knees. God will meet you on the battlefield!

 

 

 

The Importance of Prayer

Who I Am Lies In Who God Is

This year, I have been praying that God would show me what it truly means to be His child. It’s always interesting to me how God answers my prayers. It’s never in the way that I expect!

First, He led me to a book about who He is. (You can read my review of The Real God HERE). I initially thought I would be reading and learning about who I am in Christ. Instead, God first led me to who HE is. You’d think after all these years as a believer, I would have realized that it never starts with me.

It Starts With Prayer

The second thing God led me to was about prayer. It seemed everything I heard or read had something to do with the power of prayer. I’m a little slow on the uptake. Eventually, though, it dawned on me that I can’t ever access the full power of being a believer unless I fully commit myself to the practice of prayer.

So, then I started asking God to teach me to pray. Again, He was so good to lead me to various sources. One of those was Draw the Circle for 40 Days by Mark Batterson and Storm by Jim Cymbala. (reviews of both these books will be coming soon!) In both of these books, the authors hit on prayer as not just something to cross off your spiritual to do list. Instead, it is a crucial part of living out the Christian life.

Prayer Comes With a Learning Curve

While I’ve always believed in the importance of prayer – and I’ve done several studies myself and taught others – I still tend to default into the thinking of prayer as the “last resort.” I want to change that into thinking of it as the first line of defense.

For me, studying the Scriptures comes more naturally. As a word-nerd, that probably isn’t surprising. I often find my quiet time heavy on Bible study and lighter on the prayer portion.

I also think as modern Americans we have a view of prayer that isn’t very Biblical. Yes, we are supposed to pray for the everyday stuff, but the prayers in the New Testament often focused on spiritual growth and understanding – not just on the current physical need of the believers.

Excited to Learn More

In light of the importance of prayer, I have decided to do an indepth study on the prayers in the New Testament. What did Jesus pray about? How did He pray? What did Paul and the other apostles pray about? Where did they pray and when?

I’m ridiculously to see what I God is going to teach me, and I can’t wait to share it with you guys!

So, what place does prayer have in your life? Do you feel like you need to learn more or is it something that comes easily for you? I’d love to hear about it!