Persevering Prayer

The Bible is full of stories of men and women who
persevered in prayer and saw God respond.

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)

Perseverance is holding on and never giving up, even in the face of opposition and apparent failure. Perseverance is a mark of faith.

The above scripture says that Jesus told his disciples a parable to the effect that people should pray always and not give up. He told them the story of a widow who asked a judge for justice and the judge refused. The woman did not give up; instead, she continually repeated her plea until the judge answered. Jesus wants us to be likewise in our prayers. He wants us to be persistent.

What are some of the attributes of perseverance? Perseverance is:

  • Focused. It is concentrated on the object of prayer.
  • Incessant. It continually repeats and is not rebuffed by opposition or failure.
  • Systematic. It is methodical.
  • Unyielding. It never gives up.
  • Patient. It waits for the answer.

The Bible is full of stories of men and women who persevered in prayer and saw God respond.

Jacob: Genesis 32:24-28
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:24-28)

This story shows us the quality of perserverance in Jacob:

  1. Jacob did not accept “no” for an answer—even though it came from an angel. He fought and he prevailed.
  2. Even when wounded, Jacob never gave up.
  3. Jacob was stubborn in his prayer. Perseverance in prayer changed Jacob’s name and destiny.

Bartimaeus: Mark 10:46-52
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside, begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. (Mark 10:46-52)

Bartimaeus was the only blind man mentioned by name in the healings of Jesus. Jesus was leaving Jericho; when Bartimaeus heard it, he started calling out to Jesus for help. Sadly, the people around him began to charge him to keep quiet. However, the Bible says Bartimaeus cried out even louder. He did not give up even when those around him told him to keep quiet. Have you been in situations where friends, family and fellow Christians tried to explain away your failure and disappointment so you would keep quiet?

Have you been in situations where people tried to make you accustomed to your blindness instead of encouraging you to call out to Jesus with a louder voice for help? Bartimaeus could not be hushed. He cried out with a louder voice, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” and Jesus heard him. This is perseverance.

The Woman of Canaan: Matthew 15:22-28
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (Matthew 15:22-28)

This woman came to Jesus to ask him a favor. And although he kept silent, she never stopped pleading. His disciples interceded on her behalf so they could have peace; however, Jesus refused, explaining he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. The woman again cried out for help and Jesus said it was not good for the food of the children to be given to dogs. Although she accepted that fact, she added that crumbs from the table were meant for dogs. The test was over. Look at what Jesus said: “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” We can learn at least two things from this woman:

  1. Sometimes our prayers are met with silence; nonetheless, we should persevere.
  2. Even when we have a reason to be offended, let us not lose sight of the object of our prayers.

The Two Friends: Luke 11:5-8
Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” (Luke 11:5-8)

This is another example of perseverance. A man went to his friend for help; however, his friend refused to help because he was already in bed. The man continued to knock. Jesus said that if his friend would not answer him because of their friendship, he would answer him because of his perseverance.

E. M. Bounds once said, “He prays not at all, who does not press his plea. Cold prayers have no claim on heaven and no hearing in the courts above. Fire is the life of prayer, and heaven is reached by flaming importunity rising in an ascending scale.”

Never give up. Ask, seek, knock and, if necessary, storm heaven. Your miracle is on the way. Hang on and never let go. You will be glad you did.

John Abraham Godson is a member of the Polish parliament. He came to Poland in 1993 as a missionary with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). He served as deputy chair of the Intercession Working Group of The Lausanne Movement between 2005 and 2010. He is married with four children. They make their home in Lodz, Central Poland.