Behind Closed Doors: Opening the Secrets of Persistent Prayer - Part 3

How’s your prayer life today? Are you persistent? Are you bold? Are you getting through to God? If not, ask yourself these key questions.

Am I Giving Up Too Easily?

Given the choice, most people would rather run the 50-yard dash than a grueling 26-mile marathon. Likewise, when we take our needs to God in prayer, we would rather see God react quickly and solve our problems overnight than to wait upon Him and keep praying for months, if not years.

Short-sighted and impatient, we give up on God before sufficient depth has developed in our communication with Him.

If you’re tempted to give up on God, remember that He specializes in training long-distance runners. His training programs are designed to teach us endurance, patience and persistence in prayer. And He promises to regard those who develop these qualities.

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told the parable of the unrighteous judge who granted legal protection to a widow only because she kept asking for it. Earlier, in Luke 11:5-10, He described the sleepy neighbor who got up out of bed to give food to a friend who wouldn’t stop knocking on his door.

What was Jesus saying? Both parables make the same point. When prayer seems useless and ineffective, keep praying. Don’t look for something more spectacular, persist in prayer.

God is responsive, more than we know, more than we ask, and even more than we think. If a bad judge responds to a poor woman’s needs for the wrong reasons, how much more will God respond to your needs when you keep asking?

Am I Doubting God?

A timid attitude toward prayer grieves God. Throughout the gospels, Jesus was appalled at the lack of faith among the disciples.

Do you remember how they reacted when a storm arose suddenly on the sea and the waves were crashing over their boat as Jesus slept?

“Save us Lord; we are perishing!” They cried. And Jesus woke up and said to them, “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)

Our unbelief is unfounded in light of our Lord’s bold promise in John 15:7: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

Our Savior’s words challenge us to think big—to be bold for Him. Yet too often, we don’t really believe His promises. And sometimes, when our prayers are answered, we don’t give God the credit. “What a coincidence!” we say. Or, “There must be a logical explanation for this.”

If your prayers are sprinkled with doubt, I want you to remember three things:

  • God hears your prayers

  • God cares enough to answer

  • Nothing is impossible with God.

Look at Mark 11:22-24. There Jesus seems to make some impossibly wild, almost irresponsible claims about the power of prayer to move mountains. Then he says, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted up.” (v 24)

That’s quite a promise. But notice this prerequisite: “Have faith in God.” (v 22)

Faith in God precedes faith in His promises. It’s impossible to have unwavering faith that something you’re praying for will come to pass unless you know the Lord well enough to trust Him and know what He desires. The more intimately you know Jesus, the greater your confidence in Him will be—and the more clearly you will see and hear Him.

 Originally published in “Come Up Higher” newsletter volume 3,  #6 June 1997

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