"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
My daughters have an amazing gift of persistence. They always translate my, "Maybe, we'll see..." as "yes" and will continue to remind me of my "promise" to them. They have often caught me in an absent-minded mood when I have replied to them, not being fully cognizant of my words. And then they never let me forget what I have said.
"Mommy, you promised!"
I did? I think, bewildered. Vaguely I will remember the conversation and reluctantly do what they ask of me with some resentment at times, I must admit. If I do not do what they ask after I have promised, my girls will come to me again and again until I finally give in.
Girlfriends, how persistent are we being in our prayer lives? Do you feel like you have asked the same thing of God over and over again until you feel as though your prayers are only going as high as the ceiling and falling to the floor because NOTHING is happening? Oh, I have and am feeling like that this very moment. Without a continual reminder of God's faithfulness DAILY through the reading of His promises to me in my Bible, I would falter even more than I do under the frustration of not getting the answer I desire.
If we approach God as though He is our sugar daddy, we will be continually disappointed, like a child who wants ice cream three meals a day, day in and day out. No good parent is going to willingly let her child fill that little body with just junk. God may be saying no because we are asking out of wrong motives.
But what if we are praying within God's will--perhaps for a loved one who is ill and needs healing or doesn't know Jesus Christ and is facing an eternity of separation from God in the next life--and He seems deaf to our cries? As I was pouring out my frustration over not seeing something I have been praying for that I know is within my right to expect of God, the Lord brought this passage of Scripture to mind:
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "
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? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
Our God is rarely early, but He is right on time. How annoying to our flesh at times that truth is, isn't it?! Jesus tells us to pray, beg, plead to our heavenly Father for those things that we know are His will for us and others--just as the widow did. And our God is not like the judge above. He doesn't answer us finally because we irritate Him or wear Him out. The foundation of His throne is justice and righteousness (Psalm 97:2). If the answer has not yet appeared as we have wanted it, we are to continue to be persistent, dogged, determined in our prayers.
Does God withhold the answer to be mean? Oh, my darling friend, how very great the temptation is to believe that is the truth! Especially when it comes to the spiritual welfare of our loved ones. Keep praying for that wayward child. Keep praying for that broken relationship that has no hope of resurrection without a miracle of God. Our God is the God of the miraculous. He made water to come out of a rock to quench the thirst of a people in a dry and barren desert. He parted a sea to provide an escape for His beloved children. He allowed a shepherd boy to bring down a gargantuan giant with just a slingshot. He saved a mommy from having to lose her beloved sons with a little jar of oil that did not run out until she had enough to pay off her debt. He is the One who lived in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire to guide His children. There is no limit to His resources! He is the Way-Maker. He holds the universe in His hands. But the most amazing thing of all is that He cares for you and me as if we were His ONLY beloved child. We are all His favorites.
If our Abba has said no or wait, we must believe that He knows what He is doing, though the way is dark and black and the lions are circling around us. He will shut the lions' mouths! He has it all under control. He knows how to rescue us.
Let's go to Him again, but with a new attitude. "Thank You, God, for the new level of trust You are requiring of me. Thank You for Your tenderness. Thank You that You know all my comings and goings. And now give me peace to believe that!" Be persistent, dear sister! Our Abba knows what He is doing and it is going to be okay!
Jesus, what would I do without You? In those moments of pure fear and terror, I can hear You say again to me: "[Shawn,] do not throw away your confidence, ; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36)." Help me, Jesus, to be persistent, to persevere, and to see the truth that You are bigger than the fear or disappointment that I have to struggle with in waiting for You to act. Unlike me, You are never absent-minded in Your promises. You never say what You don't mean and You don't resent me coming to You over and over again. May I be faithful to pray without ceasing.