Discover Prayer (Part VII): Be Persistent!

Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people,yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’ ”And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1–8 NET)

What are we to understand about prayer from this parable? Is God a reluctant judge? Are we the marginalized widow? Is prayer a matter of annoying God until He breaks down and gives us what we desire? Absolutely not! This is a parable of contrast, not comparison. Juxtaposed to the unjust judge in this parable or story, our God is a just judge and certainly will do much better than any human judge.

Again, the point of this parable is if an unjust human judge will give you what you want just to stop the constant asking, will not a God that is grace, mercy-love, and compassion answer your request quickly?

When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, (Jeremiah 29:12–13 NET)
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on his faithful followers. For he knows what we are made of; he realizes we are made of clay. (Psalm 103:13–14 NET)
Tell me! Present the evidence! Let them consult with one another! Who predicted this in the past? Who announced it beforehand? Was it not I, the Lord? I have no peer, there is no God but me, a God who vindicates and delivers; there is none but me. Turn to me so you can be delivered, all you who live in the earth’s remote regions! For I am God, and I have no peer. (Isaiah 45:21–22 NET)

The conclusion – we are not to give up on our requests to God in prayer even if the answer seems to us delayed!

Since ancient times no one has heard or perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who intervenes for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4 NET)
A crushed reed he will not break, a dim wick he will not extinguish; he will faithfully make just decrees. He will not grow dim or be crushed before establishing justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait in anticipation for his decrees.” (Isaiah 42:3–4 NET)
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints. But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:10–12 NET)

Contrary to popular opinion, God is not waiting for the last minute to answer our prayers.  Typically, we are the ones that must become desperate before we will believe God with our spiritual heart instead of just our mind.

For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. (Romans 10:10 NET)

Realize, It is only from the spiritual heart (1) that faith is released, not the mind. Furthermore, while enduring trials (1), we experience the most spiritual growth!

This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6–9 NET)
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. (James 1:2–4 NET)
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3–5 NET)
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28–30 NET)

Furthermore, there are times we do not receive the answer to our prayer immediately because it would affect the lives of others around us that need salvation.

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NET)

That is, we do not have a grand view of what is going on, and sometimes our requests are delayed because they could affect God’s desired outcome for the World.

Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah and all the people of every class, went to the prophet Jeremiah. They said to him, "Please grant our request and pray to the LORD your God for all those of us who are still left alive here. For, as you yourself can see, there are only a few of us left out of the many there were before.  Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do."  The prophet Jeremiah answered them, "Agreed! I will indeed pray to the LORD your God as you have asked. I will tell you everything the LORD replies in response to you. I will not keep anything back from you." They answered Jeremiah, "May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not do just as the LORD sends you to tell us to do. We will obey what the LORD our God to whom we are sending you tells us to do. It does not matter whether we like what he tells us or not. We will obey what he tells us to do so that things will go well for us."  Ten days later the LORD spoke to Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 42:1-7)
When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime, the human heart is encouraged to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11 NET)
If the wicked are shown mercy, they do not learn about justice. Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed. (Isaiah 26:10 NET)

Sometimes our answers to prayer are sent, but Satan tries to prevent us from receiving them.

For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) but Satan thwarted us. (1 Thessalonians 2:18 NET)

Daniel’s prayer was heard, and the answer was sent the first day; however, it took twenty-one days to reach Daniel because of Satan’s fallen angels.

Then he said to me, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel, for from the very first day you applied your mind to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I have come in response to your words. However, the prince of the kingdom of Persia was opposing me for twenty-one days. But Michael, one of the leading princes, came to help me, because I was left there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:12–13 NET)

We may not be receiving an answer to our prayers because God is turning a deaf ear towards us due to our failure to repent of sin.

Then you responded to me and admitted, “We have sinned against the Lord. We will now go up and fight as the Lord our God has told us to do.” So you each put on your battle gear and prepared to go up to the hill country. But the Lord told me: “Tell them this: ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you and you will be defeated by your enemies.’ ” I spoke to you, but you did not listen. Instead you rebelled against the Lord and recklessly went up to the hill country. The Amorite inhabitants of that area confronted you and chased you like a swarm of bees, striking you down from Seir as far as Hormah. Then you came back and wept before the Lord, but he paid no attention to you whatsoever. Therefore, you remained at Kadesh for a long time—indeed, for the full time. (Deuteronomy 1:41–46 NET)
The one who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. (Proverbs 28:9 NET)
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood. (Isaiah 1:15 NET)

To repent (1) of sin is to deeply regret having disobeyed God, admit to Him we are wrong, and turn away from sin in His power.

The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NET) 
But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NET)

When we turn a deaf ear towards God’s Word and deliberately choose to flaunt His laws, then God responds in like manner – He no longer listens to our prayers.

If I had harbored sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18 NET)
But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers. (Isaiah 59:2 NET)
We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is devout and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31 NET)

This principle applies to individuals, organizations, congregations, and even nations, as the people of Israel found out to their loss on numerous occasions (Malachi 1:1-4:6).

It is not that God does not love us and is not interested in our prayers; it’s simply that our actions towards Him would be speaking louder than the words we might say to Him.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I tell you? (Luke 6:46 NET)
“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14:15 NET)
The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21 NET)

If we want to regain a place of authority in prayer so that we will know about and experience the power of prayer at work in our lives, then let’s determine that the actions of our lives and the words of our lips are truly in harmony with each other. When they are, God has no problem in hearing and answering our prayers! (2)

The LORD pays attention to the godly and hears their cry for help. But the LORD opposes evildoers and wipes out all memory of them from the earth. The godly cry out and the LORD hears; he saves them from all their troubles. The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged. (Psalm 34:15–18 NET)
Certainly the LORD watches the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him. You have acted foolishly in this matter; from now on you will have war. (2 Chronicles 16:9 NET)
God deserves praise, for he did not reject my prayer or abandon his love for me! (Psalm 66:20 NET)
The LORD is near all who cry out to him, all who cry out to him sincerely. (Psalm 145:18 NET)
The LORD abhors the sacrifices of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. (Proverbs 15:8 NET)
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29 NET)
For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:12 NET)

Furthermore, we may not receive our prayer requests because we may be asking for something that violates God’s will.

And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him. (1 John 5:14–15 NET)

Realize, God is not going to – nor can He – sin to make us happy! (James 1:13) (3)

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. (James 1:13 NET)

For example, you meet someone that you strongly desire to have as your spouse; however, they are married to someone else.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17 NET)

You pray and ask God to cause this person to marry you and become your spouse as you think they are your one and only soul mate. To answer this request then God would either have to kill their present spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39. Exodus 20:13) or cause them to divorce (Malachi 2:16) so that they can steal (Exodus 20:15) them from their family and marry them (Matthew 19:9. Exodus 20:14). Note how many of the laws of God would be violated by this request! Consequently, God will not grant it no matter how right it might feel or how badly you want it.

However, what we can do in that situation is pray and ask God for the wisdom to find a spouse that would lead to a God-honoring marriage.

But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5–8 NET)
A house and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:14 NET)

Again, God will not violate His word to make us happy!.

In the same way God wanted to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise that his purpose was unchangeable, and so he intervened with an oath, so that we who have found refuge in him may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us through two unchangeable things, since it is impossible for God to lie. (Hebrews 6:17–18 NET)

That is why it is important to make our requests in line with the promises (1) of our contract with God (a.k.a., the Bible).

In summary, we forfeit many blessings by giving up on our prayer requests; therefore, never give up on a request (1) that is based on God’s Promises (1) and sought with the right motive! (1)   Continue to keep your faith (1) active and strong by living a lifestyle of love (1) and thanksgiving! (1)

Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NET)

Application Prayer:

Heavenly Father, be glorified in our prayer life today.  Cause us not to give up so that we can receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.  We ask for the nations they are our inheritance and the ends of the Earth, which are our possessions.  Here am I, Lord send me.  Amen.  (Based on 1 Peter 1:9, Psalms 2:8, Isaiah 6:8)

Discover Prayer Series:

(Security, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) Seeds of the Kingdom article Deaf Ears (1), August 1, 2013, Peter Horrobin

(3) Seeds of the Kingdom article God is not Hard-Hearted (1) by Grace Marshall.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.