Today, we are all assaulted by so much communication that we find it almost impossible to focus our attention on the simple, quiet act of prayer.
The single most significant issue impacting our prayer life today is our lack of perseverance.
Jesus Himself knew this would be a continuing challenge for us, so He provided us with some guidance and encouragement on the subject of perseverance in prayer.
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’?
– Luke 11:5-8
Before exploring the reasons for our lack of perseverance, let’s look at three other criteria for enhancing the effectiveness of our prayers. These can significantly aid our perseverance.
First, we should pray for what WE need. It is good to pray for others, and we should certainly do this, but we must also pray for what we need.
It goes without saying that if we do not have enough food to eat, clothing to wear, or a suitable place to live, it will affect our ability to pray. Therefore, we should ask God for what we need.
Of course, each of these has a caveat. We should pray for the food we need, but we should also pray we will be fed by the Word of God. And we must learn to fully digest these words and thereby find joy in what we read.
Thy words were found, and I ate them,
and thy words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by thy name,
O Lord, God of hosts.
– Jeremiah 15:16
We should pray for the clothes we need, but we should also pray we might be adorned with the purity of virtues; these are a prerequisite for our entry into the wedding feast of eternal life.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
– Matthew 22:11-12
And we should pray for adequate housing, but we should also pray the Lord will use our prayers, our acts of charity and our sacrifices as the raw material to complete His work on our eternal dwelling.
And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
– John 14:3
Second, we should pray for all these things in the context of what is most necessary for our salvation. God desires to give us what we need in this life, but He is most concerned with our eternal life.
For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
– John 6:40
Third, We should pray with great confidence and great humility.
O Lord, thou wilt hear the desire of the meek;
thou wilt strengthen their heart, thou wilt incline thy ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
– Psalm 10:17-18
And God desires we approach Him with faith – our confidence that He wills to do what is in our best interest.
This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him.
– Ephesians 3:11-12
If we establish each of these principles in our prayer life, we are still left with the most important challenge – our lack of perseverance. One of the primary reason we lack perseverance in our prayers is cultural. The good news is that we have control over this.
Today, we are all assaulted by so much communication that we find it almost impossible to focus our attention on the simple, quiet act of prayer. We each have one or more devices for communicating with others and sourcing information on-line, and we are drowning in it.
In addition, we have all come to expect immediate responses, if not immediate gratification, to everything we desire in life – assuming we can afford it. We have all become accustomed to identifying and ordering what we want on-line, and, in many cases, we expect next-day delivery.
These experiences may have made our lives easier in some respects (debatable), but they have also programmed us to reduce the timeline and effort necessary to receive what we desire in life. As it relates to our prayers, this can be very misleading and potentially dangerous.
It is true that God wants to provide us with the things we need in this life, and He absolutely wants to grant us eternal life. But prayer is about more than just asking for and receiving what we want or need. It is even about more than our gaining eternal life. Prayer is primarily the means of transforming us into the people God always intended us to be.
Part of that change is learning who God really is, what He wants for us and from us. At the end of the day, prayer is fundamentally about growing in relationship with God. As we are all well aware, relationships are not established overnight, they take time. Relationships require a good deal of hard work, sacrifice, humility and learning to respond to the needs of another person. In short, developing lasting relationships requires perseverance.
Copyright © Deacon Mark Danis
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