“’And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.’” Luke 11:9-13, NLT
What does it mean to be persistent in prayer? The Merriam-Webster dictionary tells us that to be persistent means “continuing to do something or to try to do something even though it is difficult or other people want you to stop.”
What are you asking God for right now in prayer? Almost all of us have something constantly in the forefront of our minds that we need, or want, or are desperate for. Maybe you need direction (don’t we all?)? Maybe you need a new job because you aren’t making enough to pay your bills. Maybe you need to feel close to God again…maybe you’re struggling with addiction….maybe you need help with a relationship…on and on. We all have something we are desperate for. But what are you doing about it? Do you truly believe God will not only hear your prayer if you cry out to Him but that He WILL ANSWER it as well?
I know so many of us feel that our prayers go unheard or unanswered, but it may just be that we gave up too soon. People who are persistent understand that if they try and try and try and try again, they will eventually get the results they are looking for. Just look at athletes – they have a perseverance and persistence that the average Joe just doesn’t have. And they know they will get the results and abilities they want to achieve if they keep at it. Or take someone who is extremely successful in the business world. That job most likely didn’t land in their lap – they were persistent and worked really hard to get there.
That’s what God wants from us and it’s how we need to approach prayer! If we only pray once about whatever it is that we need answers or His blessing for, and then give up and decide God doesn’t hear our prayers, then we are kidding ourselves. First, He wants us to seek the Holy Spirit for the wisdom on WHAT to pray for, because maybe we’re asking for the wrong thing or maybe we’re not seeing the situation through His eyes. Second, God wants us to be persistent and not give up when we pray. Sometimes God just wants to deepen our faith – to see if we trust Him and if we know that He knows what’s best for us. He knows what the best timing is to answer our prayers. Are we going to give up and look to the world to fulfill us, give us empty answers and empty promises? Or will we trust in God’s best for our lives. And third, we must believe He will answer.
In the following verses of the above passage, Jesus tells us that God is a GOOD FATHER. He is not going to give us a snake if we ask for a fish. He is not mean, unkind or unloving. He loves us far more than any love we could experience here on Earth. And guess what? He gives the BEST gifts. Many times He’ll give us gifts above and beyond what we asked for. Maybe you prayed for a job, but when you look back, He not only gave you that, but He put you in an environment with amazing people who encourage you and your abilities; or He allowed you to move into a new home in a better neighborhood, or blessed you with a church full of people who love God the same way that you do and who want to do life together.
Colossians 4:2 tells us “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24, NIV)
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6, NIV)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14, NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
Devoting yourself to something doesn’t mean to do it once in a while. It means doing A LOT of it – doing it often and regularly. Today – WHEN – you pray to God – don’t be anxious about it, be persistent, do not doubt, know that He hears you, and know that if you believe in Him (NHiM), He will answer you in His perfect timing.