The Hopeful And Persistent Prayer

prayer, persistence, Matthew 7, Luke 18Has God ever given you an exclamation point?  Has He ever emphasized something so strongly to you that it was just as if He had sent you a personal message that ended in enthusiastic punctuation?  Recently, God did that for me and I want to share the story with you.

Throughout my week I focus on the current Sunday School lesson and I also use a couple of daily devotional guides.  These materials are from several publishers and written with different goals in mind and come in various formats.  I might be in the book of Genesis in my Sunday school material while my prayer guide may have me reading out of the book of Romans.  And because it is God’s word (that is living and powerful) no matter what I am reading it is always timely and effective.

But this one day was a little bit different.  My Sunday school material took me to Matthew chapter 7 and to these verses:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!    Matthew 7:7-11 (NASB)

These verses in Matthew serve to remind us to be persistent in our prayers because we have a God who loves us and desires to give us good gifts.  I pondered these verses for a few minutes after I read them and I felt thankful and encouraged.  And then I flipped over to my prayer guide and it focused on these verses:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’”And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18:1-8 (NASB)

In Luke 18 Jesus tells a story about a persistent widow and a secular judge.  The theme is persistence in prayer,  just the same as it was in my prior reading from Matthew chapter 7.  At this point, I felt the exclamation point coming on and I felt very strongly that God was encouraging me to keep praying and to be encouraged and hopeful in my prayers.

I find it interesting and impactful that Jesus ends verse 8 with the question “when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  Does it not show our faith when we are persistent in our prayers and hopeful in our expectation of an answer from our heavenly father?  And does it not show a lack of faith and when our prayers falter and we begin to lose hope?  In my mind, Jesus is asking us to remain faithful, hopeful and prayerful up until the very end.  He’s just told us that He is bringing justice “quickly” but it remains up to us not to lose heart and to exercise our faith in God in the meantime.

In case you need it, here is the exclamation point spelled out for you (actually, here are a couple of them): Keep praying!  Keep hoping!  Keep on believing in the God who desires to give you good gifts and will see you through to the end!

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