Persistent prayer

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted from June 22, 2011)

“The Shunamite Woman”
by Harold Copping

TODAY’S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 4:18-37

TO CHEW ON: “He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord.” 2 Kings 4:33

When the Shunamite woman’s son died so suddenly and unexpectedly, she was desperate. Without taking the time to explain to anyone what had happened or what she was doing, she rode straight to Elisha, the man of God.

Go to God
In her action I see the first prayer principle we find in this passage. It is one for the person needing prayer — we’ll call him/her the pray-ee. When we’re that person and in trouble, the best place to go is to God — or, as in the woman’s case, to someone who knows God and has a close relationship with Him.

Accept no proxies
Elisha sent his servant back with his walking stick (staff). But the woman wouldn’t leave Elisha until he himself agreed to come too. We see she was wise in this, for though servant Gehazi worked for Elisha and carried his equipment, his prayers didn’t have the same effectiveness. The principle here is another one for pray-ees: Don’t settle for less than what your conviction has impressed on you; don’t be content with proxies. This is not unbiblical — for not all Christians have the gift of faith and miracles (1 Corinthians 12:4-10).

Follow God’s instructions
When Elisha arrived, he went into the room with the boy and prayed for him. Then he did a strange thing – laid himself on top of the boy so that his mouth was on the boy’s mouth, his hands on the boy’s hands etc. Lo and behold, the boy’s flesh became warm. I see in this a principle for the pray-er: follow God’s instructions as you pray, both in what you say, and what you do.

Keep praying until the burden lifts
But the boy didn’t revive. The passage describes Elisha walking back and forth in the house. I can just imagine his anguished praying: “God, is this Your answer? Isn’t there more? What do I do now?” I see here another principle for the pray-er: Keep praying until the burden lifts.

Of course Elisha didn’t quit but returned and stretched himself over the boy’s form again. This time the lad came back to life and Elisha gave him back to his overjoyed mom.

Next time we have a big problem or someone comes to us to pray for a big problem let’s remember these principles — and put them to the test.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the Shunamite woman’s simple faith and Elisha’s creative and persistent prayer. Help me to be more reliant on You in trouble and more keen to listen to Your instructions and to persevere when I pray — for myself and others. Amen.

MORE: “I Must Tell Jesus”

If anything will drive us to Jesus it is big problems. Elisha Hoffman wrote a song about that in 1894. Here is its story:

“Hoffman’s pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents. One day, for example, while calling on the destitute of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he met a woman whose depression seemed beyond cure. She opened her heart and poured on him her pent-up sorrows. Wringing her hands, she cried, ‘What shall I do? Oh what shall I do?’ Hoffman knew what she should do, for he had himself learned the deeper lessons of God’s comfort. He said to the woman, ‘You cannot do better than to take all your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.’

Suddenly the lady’s face lighted up. ‘Yes!’ she cried, ‘That’s it! I must tell Jesus.’ Her words echoed in Hoffman’s ears, and he mulled them over as he returned home. He drew out his pen and started writing…

‘I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone…’

From Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan, p. 233.


Violet Nesdoly

Violet freelances in several genres and has been published in a variety of print and online publications. Her articles, stories, and activities have appeared in Keys for Kids, Devotions for Girls, Devotions for Boys, Clubhouse, Guide, Primary Treasure, Partners, Pockets and others. She has also published two books of poetry and is an avid blogger. She is a member of Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and a professional member of The Word Guild.