May 1st, is the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer. This day was designated by Congress, and signed into law by the President of the United States. It is recognized by all 50 Governors and observed by millions of people.
Many churches and small groups will gather to call out to God to heal our nation. Only repentance and surrender to His guidance and control will save our nation from the slippery slope of decline.
The Importunate Prayer
One of the greatest examples of effective prayer is the parable told by Jesus of the persistent woman in Luke 18. A woman appeared continually at the Judges doorstep asking him to give her legal protection against someone who was taken legal action against her. The Judge said, "I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy, I’m going to see she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with this constant request.” (Luke 18 NLT)
Jesus was using this parable to teach about the value of persistent prayer. He said, “Hear what the unjust Judge said, shall 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 speedily.” (V. 6-8)
If God is an all knowing, all seeing and all hearing God, why do we need to keep on praying the same prayer to God? Persistent prayer is not only for God’s sake, but for our sake also. There are multiple benefits for learning to pray persistently, and here are a couple of them.
First, praying persistently leads to learning how to pray with desperation. Desperation praying is not a casual, informal prayer, but a focused prayer that gets right to the point. All the formality is laid aside and we finally get to the point of asking for what God wants us to have in the matter.
Have you ever prayed for something for months or years? I have found the longer I pray for a matter the more my prayer changes to line up with what God wants. Praying for a matter persistently allows us to get through the fluff and through our own self-centered desires, and get down to listening to the Holy Spirit. He will always lead us how to pray. The real issue is for us to get lined up with God rather than attempting to line God up with us.
Secondly, persistent prayer helps us to pray with confidence. When we have prayed for a matter for months or years and God answers the prayer, that is a confidence builder. We believe what 1 John 5:14-15 says and our confidence is boosted when God answers prayer. As a bonus we are also changed in the process. We become more confident and have greater boldness to believe and trust God. The greater lesson is that our confidence is not in our own ability to discern God’s will, but in God’s ability to reveal it to us.
Cindy Jacobs, in her book Praying with Greater Purpose, tells a story about praying for rain during a drought in a country church in Texas.
“The pastor called a special session of prayer to cry out to God for rain. To his surprise, one young cowboy came striding down the aisle, carrying his saddle, no doubt his stirrups making loud clanking sounds as he walked."
“Cowboy”, the pastor said, “Why are you bringing your saddle into the house of the Lord?”
“Well pastor,” he drawled in his Texas accent, “We came to pray for rain; this is my new saddle and I don’t want it to get wet!”
Now that’s faith. He believed that God was going to send rain, even while they were praying. May we all learn to pray with persistence and with great faith.
Nothing of eternal value is ever accomplished apart from prayer.