In a small community in Germany in 1727, a band of Moravian Christians began a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week prayer vigil that lasted for 100 years. During those years, Moravian men, women, and children prayed without interruption. They claimed as their motto the words from Isaiah 62:6, 7 which references God’s placing of watchmen on the wall. These watchmen were never silent. They gave themselves no rest from their prayers and gave God no rest until he answered their prayers. A perfect picture of persevering prayer.
Jesus had a similar thought when he told the parables recorded in Luke 11 and 18. The main characters in the parables gave the friend and the judge no rest until their pleas were answered. They cried out until they got what they needed. Two more pictures of persevering prayer!
Sometimes it takes more than one ask before a request is granted, even when praying to a kind and merciful Father, even when asking for the right things, and even when praying according to God’s will. Sometimes it takes coming to God again and again and again. This is a picture of persevering prayer.
At times, God works quickly; at other times he works slowly. Sometimes we pray and answers come quickly; sometimes our prayers become marathons, and slow and steady wins the race.
What does persevering prayer look like?
Have you ever felt that you have continued knocking at God’s door, but nothing happened? Probably, at one time or another, all of us have wondered, “Is God going to answer my prayer?”
For 20 years a Jewish believer prayed persistently for the salvation of her brother before he accepted Jesus as Savior. She never gave up. Her persistent prayers won the race for his salvation.
Writing about the power of prayer, Andrew Murray said, “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest.”
Persevering prayer is prayer that continues faithfully despite difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement. Persevering prayer is prayer that does not give up but persists until the answer comes. Persevering prayer is prayer that keeps on knocking, asking, and seeking.
Persevering prayer is dependent on what we believe about prayer. To persevere in prayer, we must believe that God our Father wants the best for his children, that he hears and answers prayer, that he is who he says he is, and that he can do what he promises to do. Persevering prayer requires that we believe that God wants to hear from his children, that he is not too busy to listen, that nothing is too big or too small, and that all things are possible through him.
Hebrews 5:7 gives a picture of the persevering prayer life of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews indicates that Jesus prayed fervently, reverently, and submissively. In Luke 22:39-46, we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane struggling in persistent prayer, yielding to God’s will, accepting his Father’s answer. Jesus used the parable in Luke to show his followers that they should always pray and not give up. This is his desire for all his children—to pray and not quit until the answers come.
God, through Paul, commands us to persevere in prayer. He instructs us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He tells us to be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we might have great endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11). He admonishes us not to become weary because we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
How can I grow in persevering prayer?
Here are some steps that promote growth in persevering prayer:
- Pray confidently, believing God will answer (1 John 5:14, 15).
- Be patient. Wait on the Lord. Do not expect an immediate answer the first time you pray. Several Old Testament Scriptures speak to this step:
- “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
- “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
- “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
- “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! . . . How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:18, 19).
- Make part of every prayer time a listening time so that you can hear God speak, whether in a whisper, a burden, his Word, or in a vision or dream.
- Use Scripture to remind you of what you believe about prayer. Post prayer phrases and verses on your walls or computer to encourage you to keep on praying.
- Work hard at prayer. Just pray! When you are tempted to give up, don’t! (James 5:16).
- Focus on the reason you are praying. Such motivation will keep you praying until the answer comes or until God tells you to stop.
- Take responsibility for getting an answer. Then let go and let God do his work (Colossians 4:2-4).
- Go into your war room! Set a regular time and place (whether it’s an actual closet or a favorite chair in a quiet spot) for prayer each day. Do not let your feelings dictate whether you pray. Keep your commitment to this regular time and place of prayer no matter what (Ephesians 6:18).
- Use a journal, prayer cards, or a prayer wall to record prayers and answers along the way. Record any small answers leading to the final answer. The encouragement of seeing God move will keep you praying.
- Join with others to pray certain prayers consistently and persistently. Form an “inner 3” group with friends or accountability partners to pray for personal requests. Schedule recurring prayer times with family for family prayers. Conduct concerts of prayer with church groups and mission teams to pray for revival and spiritual awakening around the block and around the world. Promote regular prayer dates for mission teams, small groups, and Sunday school classes.
What mindset is required for persevering prayer?
Persevering prayer requires devotion, steadfastness, and watchfulness. Persevering prayer is based on the confidence that God will answer when we ask in the name of Jesus and according to his will. A mindset of faith is necessary, even if it is only the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Sometimes perseverance in prayer requires that we ask God to increase our faith and keep us faithful.
The basic attitudes and mindsets that achieve persevering prayer are developed within a faith that continues praying until the prayers are answered. Persevering prayer is a product of living a life of faith, believing that Jesus will keep his promises as we keep on praying and abiding in him.
God’s love for us is wide, deep, long, and high, so keep seeking, keep praying, keep asking, and don’t be surprised at what God will do to honor your faith and perseverance. Nothing is impossible with him.
Betty Byrd serves at Team Expansion in Louisville, Kentucky as Vice President of Prayer, Operations, and Personnel.