Persistence in Prayer

Taken from

Luke 18:1-8 
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
   4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

In this passage, Jesus’ reason for teaching the parable is clear. He wants to impart persistence in prayer. He wants his disciples to “always pray and not give up” the wonderful privilege of talking to God, of being in personal fellowship communication with the King of the Universe.

Persistence is defined as “long continuance” in doing one activity or the “incessant or unrelenting” attitude towards the fulfillment of one action. In the case of Jesus’ parable, to be persistent in prayer means to continuously seek communion with God in good times or bad, whether to praise Him, intercede for others, seek something or simply to be in His presence.

Did the disciples learn the lesson? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” One can browse through the Epistles to see how much they applied the principle in their exhortations of one another. Paul, for example, told the Philippian church, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).”

Aside from this, in his letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged his young co-worker to pray for people first of all. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1),” he said.

John also has this motivation for all believers, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:14-15).”

And James, the Lord’s brother, emphasized prayer in all circumstances—in trouble, joy, sickness or sin (James 5:13-16).

These are but some examples of the apostles learning persistence in prayer. In their letters, they repeatedly exhorted believers to always commune with God as individuals and as a group. To talk to Him in prayer, putting at the foot of His cross all worries and all praises.

They do this not to "nag" God but to show Him their faith. God sees every person's heart and is well aware of their circumstances. Even before one asks, God already knows what he or she needs. This, however, is not a license for people to neglect their communion with God. Instead, this should inspire people to continue depending on the omniscient God who knows even the prayers people can only express in silence.

If persisting in prayer is not nagging God about what a person wants, what is it, then? When one persists in prayer, this doesn't mean spending long hours badgering God until He gives in to one's requests. Instead, this  implies actively seeking His will and praying for obedience to submit to His desires. It is having a heart that says, "Not my will Lord, but Yours be done."

Afterall, even prayer is not about us but all about Him and His glory.

Now the question for us believers is this: Have we also learned what it means to persist in prayer?

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  1. The unjust judge didn't care about the woman, he just didn't want her to be nagging him. We don't have to nag at God to get a response. He wants to hear and give what we want. Nagging indicates a lack of belief.

  2. True :) Even if God knows what we ask even before we tell Him, we still come to His presence in prayer to show our faith and dependence. :)