persistent prayer

Behind Closed Doors: Opening the Secrets of Persistent Prayer - Part 4

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 Making Enough Time For Prayer?

We lead busy lives here in America today. And to reward ourselves for working hard and carrying such heavy loads, we earmark our free time for amusement and recreation—which leaves little time for prolonged, persistent prayer.

Ironically, given our busyness, we need “listening times” with God more than ever. It’s not enough to spend a few minutes here and there crying out to God with our wish lists of needs and wants.

But rather, we need to set apart time for lingering in the presence of God, for only there will we experience the radical change God desires for us.

The saints of the Bible and the early church fathers knew that prolonged communion with God in the “secret place” produces spiritual depth—something that’s sadly lacking in today’s shallow Christianity.

Do you know how to linger in that secret place?

Am I Shutting Out All Distractions?

God has something to say to us and something to do in us, but in the whirl of earthly ambitions, we cannot hear Him.

Sometimes God “tries us in the night.” Sometimes He “gives us songs in the night.” And other times the Lord gives us “visions in the night.” But we will miss all these messages from Him if we don’t persist and persevere in our time alone with Him.

Getting alone with God is not always easy, however. Worldly cares and frivolous thoughts begin to assault your mind the minute you bend your knee in prayer. And just as a wind-tossed lake cannot provide a clear reflection of the world around it, a troubled mind cannot capture the image of God.

But in the secret place of his presence, God makes the noises of the outer world cease so He might speak to the soul.

How do we enter that secret place? Turn to John 20:19 for the answer. When therefore it was evening…and when the doors were shut where the disciples were…Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’

The doors were shut. Did you catch that? To keep the distractions of the world out, start by shutting the door to your prayer closet. And then, most importantly, shut the door to your heart.

Shut the door to your heart and keep unbelief out, Jesus is saying to you. Time spent in His presence will melt unbelief like fire melts a candle.

Shut the door to your heart and keep formality out. Mechanical devotion does no good. If you’re praying to satisfy your conscience, you’re only deceiving yourself.

Shut the door to your heart so you may linger in the secret place with God, for that is where sin is exposed, confessed, and slain by His great love for you.

Shut the door and keep self-will out long enough to allow God to blend your desires with His. Don’t come to prayer so you can dictate your wishes to Him, but come to enjoy His presence.

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

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

This series on persistent prayer will conclude next week. To ensure you don't miss it, follow the link below to have these blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.

Behind Closed Doors: Opening the Secrets of Persistent Prayer - Part 2

Millions of Americans are praying every day. And yet, not all are really communicating with God. And fewer still are praying with the boldness and persistence Jesus mandates.

If millions were, we’d see greater results, because persistent prayer changes circumstances and attitudes. It removes obstacles and fears. It even moves mountains.

“If you have faith as a mustard seed,” Jesus said,you shall say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

According to this scripture, prayer helps you do more than climb mountains – it helps you move them. And that kind of strength and power comes from one thing only – a robust, virile, and exuberant prayer life.

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 Praying with the Wrong Motives?

Ask yourself: What is my agenda when I pray? Am I asking God to make my circumstances more comfortable? Am I looking for an esoteric experience, for power, or for spiritual gifts that might elevate me above other Christians? If so, my motives for prayer may be self-seeking, not God-seeking.

An exuberant prayer life flows from a passion to commune with God no matter what the cost. First and foremost, desire Jesus Himself and the power to serve Him—then all else will follow. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

God-seeking prayers contain no hidden agendas. With the right motives, your prayers may sound like this, “Please, Lord, help me to think clearly…cleanse my heart of all that’s not pleasing to you…purify my desires, God…give me the compassion and love I need to forgive my offenders…”

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

This series on persistent prayer will continue weekly for the next several weeks. To ensure you don't miss out, follow the link below to subscribe and these blog posts will come directly to your inbox.


The Benefits of Persistent Prayer - Part 2

Strength to Keep Going

When you cultivate the daily presence of Jesus in your life through persistent prayer, He will move into your difficulties and offer sympathy, guidance, encouragement and conviction. He will tell you of the heavenly life He’s preparing for you, and of the deep things of God that await you.

It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22).

The Atmosphere of Heaven

What strength will come to you from His companionship. What power will go out from Him to enable you to tackle any obstacle or difficulty victoriously.

What peace His presence will bring, and what glorious holiness, too. You will be spiritually-minded, discerning and radiant.


The sin that binds you today will be arrested in His presence. Do past failures have a stranglehold on you? Through persistent prayer, that stranglehold will be removed, freeing you from bad memories and nagging fears.


Time alone in God’s presence produces a hushing of the anger, irritation and selfishness that so often push their way into your heart.

These benefits and more are yours when you learn to enter into the secret place with God. Don’t let anyone mislead you, however. No one enjoys a constant mountaintop experience with God. And there is no need to inhabit a rarefied spiritual atmosphere attained by only a few “superhuman” souls.

Consider the Father’s heart. Nothing delights Him more than intimacy with you. When you claim that such an intimacy is beyond you, you’re forgetting that He desires it more than you do! And He sacrificed His only Son to make it possible. Today He eagerly waits to meet with you behind closed doors.

Is there a mountain in your way today? Would you like to move it? Remember nothing is impossible with God! Try a little mountain moving, and you’ll embark on the greatest adventure of your life.

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

This series on persistent prayer will continue weekly for the next few weeks.

The Benefits of Persistent Prayer - Part 1

Surprise Visits from Jesus

Unsought and uninvited, Jesus will bring a word of peace into your heart even during times of stress and haste. Time spent alone with Jesus will open ongoing communication with Him, enabling Him to send messages to your heart when you least expect them. You will gladly recognize these messages as His, and they will sustain, strengthen and bring joy to your heart.

The Abiding Presence of Jesus

Our hearts are too often like Bethlehem. Great crowds move through them, and there is “no room for Jesus in the inn.” But time spent alone with Jesus in the secret place prepares a place of lodging for the Lord.

Listen to this promise beginning in John 14:21, “…and I will love him, and manifest Myself to him…and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:21, 23, KJV).

Notice the progression in this verse. First, Jesus promises to love. Yet because you cannot always see or feel that love, Jesus then promises to manifest Himself to you in a way that will enable you to experience direct contact with Him.

Even after you’ve had a good glimpse of His character, God may yet remain distant. So Jesus promises still more—that God the Father and He will come to you. And, if that’s not enough, They promise to make Their abode with you.

God isn’t coming to visit, the Lord is coming to stay. More than an occasional visitor; God wants to be a permanent resident in you.

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

This series on persistent prayer continues next week.