Receiving answers to prayers is a strong desire for every child of God. I’ve been at the point where I almost gave up praying on some requests because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I read a lot about God’s timing but was it really about God’s timing? Even so, how do I know when the time was right? ” What does God want me to do?” I asked myself. Was it about unbelief? I didn’t think so. I wasn’t doing something right. I believed it was more about how I prayed or asked because Jesus had said “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him”. This took me back to the scriptures to carefully learn about what I am about to share with you.
In Luke 18:1, “Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up”. This story was about a widow who needed justice from a judge. She went many times but was turned down. Her action (not the request) worried the judge that he granted the widow her request. It’s interesting that the request didn’t bother this judge as much as her constant showing up.
To end this story, Jesus said “Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?. The last question got me thinking. Does God keep us off sometimes? And why would he do that? I will answer that in later in the post.
One amazing thing I found in my quest was that before Jesus told his disciples this parable about prayer, He had already taught them How to pray in Luke 11. A good teacher knows how to be systematic in his approach. Interestingly He used another story to show them the secret about prayer. This time it was about you and your friend’s engagement at midnight. You had a need but your friend said (v7) “Don’t bother me…I can’t help you” because it’s midnight and the door is locked. Jesus said (v8) “though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence”
In this story, I found a trace in what happened in Luke 18. The request or need didn’t bother your friend. And he didn’t care about your friendship either. What bothered him was your constant knocking.
Again I visited James 5:18 “Then when he prayed again, the sky send down rain and the earth began to yield it’s crops.” This verse is about Elijah when he prayed for rain. On the surface, one would assume that he just prayed and the rain came down but when you read 1 Kings 18:42-44, Elijah did more than one prayer session. He prayed once, the servant went and came back with no result. This repeated for Seven times. Elijah persisted and didn’t give up until he heard about the little cloud.
Finally, the story of the Gentile Woman who needed deliverance for her daughter came up for consideration. She had a need but Jesus gave her no reply, not even word. (Matthew 15:23). His disciples urged him to “Tell her to go away. She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus spoke out that He can’t help her because he “was sent only to help God’s lost sheep…”. This woman persisted and her persistence caused Jesus to alter what he had earlier said that “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep”. She received the kind words from Jesus which I believe was the best she had during that season of her life. Jesus said ” Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.”
Why does God want us to (shamelessly) persist in prayer?
To Persist, according to Merriam-Webster, is to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning. dictionary.com also defines it as to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc.:
One lesson you can learn from the four characters; the widow, the friend, Elijah, and the gentile woman is that They had needs, they knew where to go, and they persisted. The neither changed their requests nor back down. The Judge wouldn’t mind the widow, the friend wouldn’t open the door, and Jesus wouldn’t talk. With Elijah, Heaven was silent. Yet they kept pushing and pushing till they got what they came for. They persisted because they knew that that was the ONLY PLACE they would get answers to their requests. If they had any other option, they would easily turn away.
In the same way, God (often) wants to SEE if you SEE Him as your ONLY SOURCE. He knows your heart and thoughts, and he knows when you ponder on other options to get your needs met (like cheating the system, compromising on your values, and even going against His Word (instructions). I’ve heard people said “God will understand me on this”. No! He won’t understand and He has never understood anyone who sought alternative source for Help.
When God is your Source, you don’t leave (or stop praying) till you have answers. You will go on resolutely or stubbornly, or steadfastly, or firmly in spite of His silence. His silence doesn’t mean denial because Jesus said in John 16:23 (ERV) that “my Father will give you anything you ask him for in my name.” God will do it for you but can you be resolute, stubborn, steadfast, and firm on your knees day and night? Can He see that you are serious about it? Can you give Him one more reason why you need that badly? Just ONE MORE prayer and your request is answered.
It’s remarkable that Jesus said “how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” He linked Persistence to Faith as seen in the story of the gentile woman “” Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted.”
The simple clue I found in getting answers to my request is to PERSIST…JUST ONE MORE prayer or asking or seeking or knocking. Don’t give up praying because you haven’t received answers yet. It’s all about faith and seeing God as your only Source.
“So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened.(Luke 11:9-10, AMP)