POWER OF PERSISTENT PRAYER- Pastor Jide Ogunsakin
“So I say to you, 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” (Luke 11: 9-10)
Max Lucado told of a church in Scotland back in the 1940s that was struggling to keep its doors open. A couple of its members were older ladies who were invalids and couldn’t get out for worship any longer. But these ladies refused to allow their infirmities to get in the way of serving their God. They became convinced that their community needed Jesus desperately and they were going to do something about it. The resolved they were going to pray.
They determined to make their house a house of prayer. Around the clock they prayed for God to do something powerful. Then came one day, one of the ladies became convinced that God wanted a revivalist by the name of Campbell to come and hold meetings at their church. They talked to their preacher and he contacted the evangelist Campbell, but Campbell was unavailable. He was booked around the period.
However, these women refused to give up on their prayers and it was not long before oddly enough some of Campbell’s other revival dates were cancelled and he eventually decided to accept the invitation of the small church. Upon arrival at the church, Campbell held 5 weeks of meetings in the areas.
The revival was so well received that hundreds showed up each night and lives were so touched that many local taverns had to close shop due to lack of patrons. One might think it was the powerful teachings by the renowned revivalist, but in reality it was due to faithfulness of two invalid old ladies who dedicated themselves to a live of prayers for the church.
Prayer simply defined is a conversation between God and man, -a kind of dialogue where both parties communicate –. In this kind of encounter, requests are made based on belief in God and He guarantees supplies. Petitions are tendered and swift and appropriate justices are dispensed. Questions are asked and answers are provided. In prayer, God is the bigger partner; the benefactor, while the person who prays, is the beneficiary.
Prayers take different forms; this is determined by the situation of the person involved and his/her circumstances. In other words, the pattern or approach to praying is predicated on the nature of a person’s situation. When a man is in a desperate need for divine intervention, persistent praying become his natural option to succeed. He must indulge in “Pray until something happens”. Some people call this approach “Operation PUSH” an acronym for “Pray Until Something Happens”. In the words of E. M. Bounds, “He who does not push his plea does not pray at all. Cold prayers have no claim on heaven and no hearing in the courts above”. Until our prayer becomes forceful and “pushful” it might have no guarantee of answers.
Jesus declared that “… from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heavens suffers violence, and the violence takes it by force!” (Matt.11: 12). Nothing describes persistent prayer more aptly than this statement from the lips of Jesus. In its simplest form; it implies that from the time of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven have been experiencing forceful advancement. People who believe have been doing their bits to take the things that belong to them.
Luke quoted Jesus as saying; “ the law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the Kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it” (Luke 16:16). This smacks off persistence, insistence, and consistence, until what is promised by God is obtained. This is the reason for the imperative of persistence in prayers in the lives of all Christians today as it has always been in the days of the Apostles.
Why should Prayers Be Persistent?
Prayers should be persistent whenever a situation is desperate and without obvious solutions. Two examples given by our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ when He walked the face of this earth might shed more lights on our understanding of the need for persistence in our prayer lives. These two parables explain what it really means to be persistent in our prayers to God.
The first account is found in the books of Luke 11: 5-8. A man had an august visitor who arrived at past midnight hours. Can you imagine an unexpected important visitor coming to visit after midnight that you just have to entertain while you have the misfortune of having nothing in the house to set before this guest, and given the timing, almost all places to make purchases are closed. But to show his hospitality, this host must do something to save his dear guest from sleeping in hunger. Lacking many options, he remembered his old friend who was most courteous to always have extra bread in case of emergencies like this.
Without much delay he headed for his friend’s house. The situation was desperate and as they say, “Desperate situations require desperate measures”. In this instance his friend was the only person known with supply he urgently needed at that time. On his part, he was determined to do all he could to have this need met. Jesus continued, “this man went to his friend who was already fast asleep and his children well tucked in bed and began to knock at the door”.
Imagine the knocks of a man in utter desperate situation. He pounded loudly on the door until the man who was fast asleep (or so he thought), suddenly woke up and wryly inquired, “who is at the door?” This was the opportunity this desperate friend was waiting for. He longed for a response from within while he knocked unceasingly. Now when the opportunity presented itself, he seized it with both hands.
His answer to the question “who is at the door” was succinct, clear, precise and straight to the point. There was no room for ambiguities. He reeled out his need to the man who had the capacity to meet them. Here is what he said: “will you kindly lend me some loaves of bread? A friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him. Please save me from this embarrassment.”
Remember he did not go to just anyone, he knew that a friend loves at all time, hence he could get some respite from this his friend in his moment of his need. But did he get the expected answers to his request immediately? No; not without some serious persistence at his request. His rind answered him from his bed but the response was not encouraging. It was blunt: “Do not disturb me. I am already asleep and my children are also asleep. I will not be able to get up and give any bread”.
Here is a point; he had some bread right in his pantry, but the trouble was the stress to get up and give the bread to him. The friend was happy to be doubly sure that there was indeed bread to be had in the locked house, so what needed to be done was anything to compel his friend to come out of his bed and grant his request. The secret was to persist in knocking at his door.
As he refused to let off on his knocks, he succeeded in knocking sleep off the eyes of his sleep loving-friend. Eventually, the man reluctantly stood up and gave him as many bread, as he needed. Jesus maintained that: “Though he will not rise and give him bread because they were friends but because of his importunity, he rose and gave him as he needed”
The power of persistency is really unstoppable. Even people who are heartless, unloving, uncaring and wicked will normally yield to persistent requests, let alone God who is caring, loving, and righteous. He will always answer us speedily.
The second example of persistence in supplication that Jesus taught is found in Luke 18: 1-8. In this beautiful passage Jesus expressed the purpose of the parable in the very first verse: “… men ought to pray and not faint, or lose heart or give up”. Prayer is the only means by which mortal men communicate with immortal God. It is the process by which the visible talk to the invisible; divinity answers humanity; and problems that look as if they defy normal solutions receives prompt attention and are solved. Jesus was thus emphatic on the need for unbroken prayer chain, which should never give rooms for doubt that might abort the conversation.
Jesus cited the example of a poor widow in illustrating the power of persistence in request. He noted that the poor and hapless woman was facing an impossible situation with this judge sitting over her case. The judge antecedent was indeed quite overwhelming and depressing. He was reputed to neither fear God nor regard men. She knew this judge well and was aware of what she was up against.
Determined to face all consequences squarely and banking on help of God’s providence, she prayed for a positive outcome at the end. She was optimistic that she will have a win at the end of her trial and have the last laugh. Did she really achieve this? The end of the story assured us that her prayers were not in vain, as she did won the case against her. She had gone to the judge with only one request: ”Avenge me of my adversary!” That summed it all up in a short, precise and direct request.
Her adversary was probably making life difficult for her and possibly her children. Her unfavourable condition of being a widow made her vulnerable in the society. She needed and requested protections from her adversaries who were threatening her life. This judge was the only who could meet her need, though the most callous she could find.
Jesus informs us that this judge initially paid little attention to her or to her requests. He openly despised, ignored and bluntly refused to do what she was asking him to do for her, leaving her to her fate. Yet she never quit, never give up and retreat to face her fate alone. She continued to insist on the need for the judge to answer her and avenge her of her adversary. Her need justified her continuous supplication and actions. To her desperate issues must be met with desperate measures. As afar as she was concerned, the judge was her only hope of surviving in the land, and she cared less about his personality or moods, either he was good natured or heartless, all she wanted was justice.
Her undying persistence finally wore out the judge’s resistance; he gave in. Her refusal to give up her petitions, gave him no option but to hear and accede to them. She won a hard fought battle and had the last laugh. Jesus noted that the judge did not give up without seriously rebuffing this hapless widow. He discovered to his chagrin that this widow was no push over, – a woman that cannot be ignored- His resistance was waned down by her persistence.
The judge realizing the need to achieve a win-win situation; –for him to have peace and rest of mind he must address the widow’s pleas- he was pressured to finally listen to her pleas and attend to her needs. He acceded unto her supplications and she was satisfied and happily left him to his other duties. So both won in the end; the judge his peace of mind from the pestering widow and the widow won her case in his court.
Our attention was drawn by Jesus to a statement credited to the judge when he thought aloud: “Even though I do not fear God nor regard men but because this woman keeps troubling me, I will avenge her lest by her continuous coming she wears me out”. Jesus commented, “Hear what the unjust judge said, and shall not God avenge his own elect who cry out to him day and night even though he bear long with them? I tell you He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes shall He find faith in the earth?” The lesson Jesus was teaching us here is that God is not wicked and heartless to keep ignoring our prayers like the unjust judge did.
Jesus assured us that: “God will hear speedily, as many as cry to Him day and Night”. Persistent prayer is a powerful prayer tool that we must use consistently; and God is ever there to answer us speedily.
Another good example of persistence in prayer in the Bible was demonstrated by Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:41-45). Prophet Elijah and King Ahab needed rain after three years of continuous drought in Israel. Elijah bent down on the ground putting his face between his knees. Elijah prayed and asked his servant to go out and look towards the sea for cloud and a sign of rain as answer to his supplication. The servant returned and reported that there was no sign at all.
Elijah was not dissuaded by this setback, but kept on praying with expectation. He sent his servant again and again until he got a favourable answer to his fervent prayers. Finally, his servant looked towards the sea seven times before the rain clouds were sighted. Elijah never waivered in his prayers, he would not give up and doubt his beliefs hence he got the answer to his persistent prayers. Without doubts in his heart, his total expectation and confidence in the Almighty God provoked the desired results at the end.
I will love to close this chapter with a testimony of a sister as shared with my father in the Lord, Pastor E. A. Adeboye:
This sister and her blind mother lived in a rented apartment. One fateful day, the landlord came and threatened to throw them out of the house due to the fact that they owed him huge some of money as rent. The landlord there and then gave them an ultimatum to either pay up what they owe by 12 noon the following day or be violently thrown out of the house. The sister cried unto God in clear terms, saying, “O Lord, where will I go with my blind mother? O god, you have until 12 noon tomorrow to send us help’. She prayed fervently and later dropped off to sleep that night. She was woken the next morning by an aroma coming from the directions of the kitchen, wondering who could be cooking in her kitchen since she lived alone with her mother who was blind and could not cook in her condition.
To her utmost surprised when she made her way into the kitchen, she discovered her mother was the person preparing their breakfast. Her blind mother has been miraculously healed during the night by God, and could now see. Their mouths were filled with joy. In that great mood, they sat down to eat with their faith renewed, strengthened and broadened. Before she started eating, he said a quick prayer: “God, if you could open the eyes of my mother, then I know that the money with which we shall pay the rent will arrive before 12noon”.
Shortly before they finished their meal, the doorbell rang, and it was the postman who had come to deliver a letter. She received the letter and when she opened it she discovered miracle number two: in the envelope was a cheque; and the amount on the cheques was not only enough to clear their backlog of rent but enough to actually buy off the house.
Things to Remember:
- When a man is in a desperate need for divine intervention, persistent prayer becomes his natural option.
- He who does not push his plea does not pray at all. Cold prayers have no claim on heaven and no hearing in the courts above.
- The prayer of persistence is imperative in the life of the Christian today as it has always been.
- The power of persistency is unstoppable. It does not take no for an answer.
- Even a man that is heartless, unloving, uncaring and wicked will yield to persistence, let alone God who is caring, loving, and righteous.