Don’t lose hope. God has
promised to answer when we persevere.
So you pray for something
for years and then you wake up one day, breathe a big sigh and say to yourself:
This is crazy. Nothing is happening. God
must not be listening.
Congratulations. If this
has been your experience you are not alone. You’ve been enrolled in the School
of Persevering Prayer, and it’s not a one-semester class. It’s a lifelong
journey designed to stretch your faith, develop your character, purify your
motives, test your patience and increase your capacity to know and experience
God’s amazing love.
“Have you ever been around a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy? She
is often in a state of agitation—ready to give birth but weary of the strain. I
know many Christians today who are in this same uncomfortable stage of
I’ve been in this class for
a long time, and I don’t always make the grade. This past week, in fact, I was
whining about God’s delays. For many months I’ve been bringing the same request
to the Lord, yet the answer seems impossibly distant. My faith wavers from calm
assurance to frustrated doubt. In my weakest moments I panic and say stupid
things to my wife (such as, “Honey, I’m giving up and getting a job parking
cars at Disney World!”)
Yet when I bring my
complaint to the Lord He always reassures me. This week He took me to Isaiah 62:6-7 (NASB): “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have
appointed watchmen; all day and
all night they will never keep silent. You who remind
the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He
establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
There’s no way around the
fact that prayer requires persistence. Jesus told a parable about an
unrighteous judge who granted a poor widow’s petition because she badgered him
night and day (see Luke 18:1-8). Jesus asked: “Will not
God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?” (v. 7). Whatever
request you have brought to the Lord, and regardless of how many times you have
reminded Him of it, keep these points in mind as you trust Him for an answer:
1. The work
of God takes time. Most people in the Bible
who asked God for big things waited a long time to receive their answers.
Abraham turned gray waiting for his promised heir—and he is called the father
of our faith. Joshua and his remnant company wandered in the wilderness 40
years before they possessed Canaan. Hannah endured taunts from Peninnah and
insults from Eli while she prayed for years for a son.
Prayer is not magic. Our
job is to ask, not to dictate or control. Let God be God. Let patience have its
perfect work. We will eventually reap if we don’t grow weary.
prayer involves a holy process. Prayer is
often compared to birth. When God gives you a promise, you essentially become
pregnant with it. If you plan to carry this promise to full-term, you must
Surely this is what the
apostle Paul experienced when he told the Galatians he would be “in labor”
until Christ was formed in them (Gal. 4:19). We often
think of the prayer of faith as triggering instant answers, but this was not the case with Paul. While God can certainly answer immediately, even with
fire from heaven, frequently He calls us to carry a promise until we are mature
enough to handle the answer.
3. You have a
Helper who is praying for you. You are not in this
process alone. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us, Paul wrote, “with groanings
too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). He is praying the
perfect will of God, and we are invited to agree with Him. This kind of
gut-wrenching prayer is messy; it is not formal or sophisticated; when we truly
pray in the Holy Ghost we surrender our agendas and let Him pray through us.
And this takes us deeper with God.
Have you ever been around a
woman in her ninth month of pregnancy? She is often in a state of agitation—so ready to give birth but weary of the
strain. I know many Christians today who are in this same uncomfortable stage
of spiritual travail. They’ve held onto promises for a long time. Some are in
despair because the gestation period has been so long.
Jesus said: “For everyone
who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be
opened” (Matt. 7:8). The verbs used are Greek present imperatives, meaning constant asking, seeking and knocking.
Prevailing prayer requires persistence, but when we feel too weak to press
forward in faith the Spirit provides the extra push.
You may be asking for the
salvation of a wayward child, the funding of a ministry, the reconciliation of
a relationship, the recovery of a business, the reviving of a stagnant church
or the healing of a sick loved one. Keep on knocking. Don’t give up. You’re
closer than ever to a breakthrough.
J. Lee Grady is
contributing editor of Charisma. You
can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma