Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 28, 2011

persistent prayer

Do you ever feel like quitting?  Have you ever had thoughts of confronting your boss and letting him have a piece of your mind, right before you hand in your resignation letter? But in a moment of mental clarity you decide quitting isn’t the best choice. We also teach our children that quitting isn’t right, no matter how bad the coach or teacher has treated them. No matter your life stage, you have wanted to quit, taught your children life lessons about not quitting, and viewed from a distance as others made disastrous decisions to give up on a marriage or to leave their job. Quitting is a powerful emotion that we all have to battle. In one of the most critical of spiritual disciplines, prayer, quitting also has a strong emotional pull.

If you have attended church for very long, you may have heard the parable of the persistent widow in Luke chapter eighteen. Christ in his wisdom used this parable to show the disciples the need to pray and not give up. The disciples needed to hear good counsel: keep praying and don’t give up. In our heart of hearts, we all know if we have slowed down or even stopped praying. Sure there may be times of mouthing words, but I am talking about really seeking after God’s design on issues of concern to us. Looking back at my prayer journals would probably show some issues that were once important, that I regretfully gave up on. You may have gotten discouraged at His delays, angry over the outcome of your pleadings, and disillusioned that you prayed so hard and nothing seemed to happen. He understands our struggle, but gives us great counsel: keep praying and don’t give up.

Christ’s parable about the persistent widow gives us incredible insight about never, ever giving up. The unjust judge that she confronted was finally bothered to the point of giving in to her. We need to be careful at comparing the judge to our Lord, because the context gives us a completely different picture. But the parable teaches us that being persistent in prayer is vital. Too often Christians become easily dismayed and don’t follow the great counsel: keep praying and never give up. In studying the first two verses that follow this parable, I was challenged and convicted.

Luke 18:6-7
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?

Intellectually, there is no doubt in my mind that you believe God will honor persistent praying. But we all struggle with the discipline to keep going, when He seems to put our requests in delay mode or our loved one is not healed, or our finances don’t quickly turn around, or our child continues to reject Christ no matter how long we’ve prayed. We all have reasons not to pray, but His counsel is: keep praying and never give up. I can’t tell you why God delays, but I can tell you that He loves you, He does heal, and He will honor those who cry out to Him day and night. Is there anything that you need to cry out to the Father night and day about? Do it, and don’t give up.

Sir Winston Churchill in 1941 used the following words: “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty. . .” You and I can take his words to a new level: never, never, never, never ever stop praying. Great counsel indeed!

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