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Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Persevering Prayer

The Persevering Prayer
Many of our prayers are answered quickly, but some of our prayers require patience and an attitude that refuses to quit praying until God answers.  Sometimes we must keep on knocking  and knocking on the door of heaven with faith until the answer comes.  This is what persevering prayer is -to have a holy boldness that will not take “No” for an answer.  And to keep on waiting and praying until the break-through comes.
When we know what we are praying for is God’s will we need to keep on praying for however long it takes.  Sometimes we may feel that God has placed an assignment or a desire on our heart to keep praying about a certain person or problem.
We don’t know all of the reasons why some of our prayers aren’t answered quickly. God perhaps urges us to keep on praying because He may be developing our faith as we learn how to wait in patience and hope for the answer.
 Jesus said that if his disciples (and us too) had the faith the size of a tiny mustard seed that they (and we) could move mountains.  And nothing would be impossible to them.  (Matthew 17:20)   Do we sometimes have to wait patiently and pray while building up our faith to the size of a mustard seed so our mountain can be moved?  Our faith is all important to our heavenly Father.   
Scripture says that we have a heavenly Father who loves to give us good gifts.  A God who wants us to pray and wants to answer our prayers.  We are invited to ask. Scripture says: “Ask and it will be given to you: Seek, and you will find: Knock, and it will be opened to you.”  (Matthew 7:7) And the Bible also says that God will give us the desires of our hearts if we delight ourselves in Him.”  (Psalm37:4) 
If we delight ourselves in God, God will direct our desires to the things that we ought to want.   God will teach us our wants and desires. We are not meant to understand God, we are meant to trust Him. There is no such thing as trust without some unanswered questions in our lives. While we are here on earth the Bible says we are to “live by faith”.  But the day is coming when Jesus will come again and make everything new.  All the wrongs will be made right and what we see with the eyes of  faith now will finally become reality!   
 Sometimes we want things that are not good and we ask God to give those things to us.   God does not promise to answer those prayers.  Scripture says: “When you pray to God you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your worldly pleasures.” (James 4:3) But when we love God and delight in Him, the Holy Spirit begins teaching us to want the things that God wants.
I have a friend whose daughter became addicted to drugs and then stopped having any contact with her, saying she no longer wanted to be part of the family. My friend and her husband, the girl’s father, tried again and again to contact their beloved daughter but with no success. Years passed and their many letters, gifts and phone calls to their daughter were left unanswered.  My friend and her husband prayed each day that their beloved daughter would be reconciled to them. That she would be set free from her addictions. But there was no answer.
Because my friend and her husband knew that they were praying for something that was in God’s will, something that was good and right, they believed that someday God would answer their prayer.  Someday their daughter would come back to God and also to them. They prayed against the anger they felt because they had been rejected. And they kept picturing their daughter the way she would be when she became willing to fight her drug addiction. More years passed and these parents simply kept refusing to quit praying until God answered. What a deep mystery this is of persevering prayer!
And then one day, twenty- seven years after their daughter had become lost to drug addiction and had shut them out of her life, their prayers were suddenly answered and their daughter came back! Came back to them and came back to God!  She had successfully gone through a drug re-habilitation program. Their perseverance with God really had prevailed. And now their daughter had come to Christ and was a new person!  And a new daughter! It was a miracle!  They had believed all those years that God would answer their prayer for their daughter.  And it was awesome to pray and ask God for something, and believe Him to do it and see it come to pass!
Sometimes we do not approach God with confidence in prayer because we feel worthless or condemned or ashamed.  We feel that we are not good enough for God to answer our prayer.  But the Bible says that we do not come to God in our own strength, but we go to Him in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Scripture says: “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21) We can come boldly to the throne of grace because we are sons and daughters of God the Father and we are made righteous through the blood of Jesus.  
It's an exciting way to live, following the lead of the Holy Spirit and praying for those He leads us to pray for and those we care about.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit puts the burden to pray onto your heart so heavily that you can- not stop praying.
 Many years ago when I was young, a well- known Bible pastor visited my church and held a three- day retreat.  On the first night of the retreat, as the pastor was preaching, a still small voice seemed to speak inside my heart and I seemed to know that it must be the Holy Spirit speaking.  The message I seemed to feel, urged me to pray.  Pray for my friend Arlene who had come with me to the retreat. If I would pray diligently for her, then before the retreat was over my friend would accept Christ as her Savior.  The voice seemed to promise that!  My job was to pray. 
My friend, Arlene, was a member of a cult group.  She had no interest in becoming a Christian and she made fun of the Christian faith.  Arlene came to church with me because there were many eligible young men attending my church and Arlene came to church to flirt with them.
After this urging came to me to pray, I felt a deep desire to pray for Arlene and I just kept praying and praying.  I prayed that night and the nest morning.  I prayed in my bed at night and when I was going about my work the next day.  I prayed the next night as we went back to the retreat at church.  And again all the next day.  While I was eating and while I was studying. I felt such a heavy desire and burden to keep praying for Arlene.
 And then, on that last night of the retreat when the call was made to come to Christ, the break through happened! The miracle!  Arlene walked down the aisle and knelt at the altar and confessed that she wanted to follow Jesus.  I sat in the second-row crying.  I always felt close to Arlene after that and she never knew why.  I felt like God had allowed me to help bring her into the kingdom. To have a small part in this miracle! What a privilege!  The Holy Spirit guides us in our prayers, perhaps more than we realize.         
How many lives could be changed if we would continue praying when things look impossible.  When people hurt or when problems come.  If we would pray and not give up or become bitter.  If we would keep praying and watch God turn our problem into a miracle.  We can keep on praying because we know that God will answer. Even when we must wait a very long time.
Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from Joyce Meyer’s book “The Power of Simple Prayer”   

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