Tag Archives: persistence

Can Prayer be a Single Word?

Can Prayer be a Single Word?

by Stephanie Nickel

Prayer

Anyone who knows me, knows I like to talk . . . and talk and talk and talk. I do try to speak only when I have something I feel will add to the conversation – most times, at least.

However, words often seem inadequate when approaching the Throne of Grace. What can I tell the Almighty that He doesn’t already know? What can I ask of Him that He does not already know I need? What eloquence can I use to impress the Creator of all that exists?

Though scripture after scripture urges us to pray without ceasing and persevere in our asking, sometimes the best approach is simply to summarize our heart’s cry.

Below is a list of one-word prayers that sums up how I’ve felt at different times.

Help
No!
Please
Never
Always
Someday
Victory
Surrender
Trusting
Rejoicing
Pleading
Resting

Several times a day, the following two words should emerge from my lips . . .

Thank You

And finally, another two words that are meant as 100 percent submission to His will and His ways . . . In saying them, attitude is everything.

Whatever, Lord

This week the topic of persistence in prayer seems to keep reoccurring. Here are a few more articles about being persistent in prayer.

The Power of Perseverance

Widow – Speak by Rev. Harry Morgan (a video)

Persistent Pray-ers by Violet Nesdoly

Steph Beth Nickel

Headshot 1 Stephanie 2013

Steph Beth is a wife of over 30 years and the mother of three grown children. Steph’s eclectic interests include writing, editing, fitness, and childbirth (she is also a labour doula).
Steph’s was honoured to co-author former Paralympian Deb Willows’ memoir. Living Beyond My Circumstances is scheduled for release at the end of November 2013.
Steph edits for Christian Editing Services under the leadership of Karen Burkett. She is a long-time member of The Word Guild and a recent member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Steph blogs at Steph’s Electic Interests. Her new author website, Steph Beth Nickel , is a work-in-progress.

WHAT IS THE TENSION OF FAITHFUL PRAYER?

What is the Tension of Faithful Prayer?

by Mark D. Roberts (reprinted with permission)

Hands in Prayer

Faithful Prayer

Psalm 22:1-31

“Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief…
For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help” (Psalm 22:2, 24, NIV).

Today I want to base my reflection on two verses from Psalm 22. In the first verse (22:2), the psalmist laments God’s lack of response to his desperate prayers. Even though he has called out to God day and night, God has not answered. The second verse (22:24) seems almost to contradict the first, affirming God’s attention to those who cry for help in their suffering.

How is it possible for both of these verses to appear in the same psalm? How can the psalmist accuse the Lord of ignoring his prayers, yet, moments later, celebrate God’s faithfulness in response to the cries of the needy?

Such superficially contradictory statements make sense when we realize that our faith in the living God is not some neat, tidy relationship that we can carefully manage. Every person who has walked with God for a while has experienced seasons of despair and seasons of exaltation. Sometimes these seasons overlap, even in a single prayer. In agony, we cry out for God’s help. Then we remember his goodness. Then our desperation returns as we wonder why God seems so distant. Then we are encouraged by the promise of his presence.

And so it goes when we live in the tension of faithful prayer. Tweet this.

Psalm 22 invites us into a tumultuous, passionate, growing, intimate relationship with God. It gives us permission to cry out in anguish without holding back and to rejoice in the memory of God’s faithfulness—and, sometimes, to do both more or less at once.

Read the rest of Mark’s post over at the High Calling.

This post reminded me of this wonderful song  – I will not be Shaken written by Sonic Flood. Here it is played by Vineyard.

Related articles

Mark D. Roberts

Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts is Senior Advisor and Theologian-in-Residence of Foundations for Laity Renewal, a multifaceted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas and the parent organization of Laity Lodge. He has written several books, including his most recent: Can We Trust the Gospels? (Crossway, 2007)

He blogs at  http://www.patheos.com/community/markdroberts, and writes a daily devotional for http://www.thehighcalling.org.

HOW CAN ANSWERED PRAYER HELP US?

How Can Answered Prayer Help Us?

by Janis Cox

His-presence

I belong to a few prayer teams. We ask for specific requests and we pray. Sometimes it seems like NOTHING is happening. But we continue, day after day; week after week; and sometimes year after year.

Then we hear of an answered prayer and doesn’t the world just sing? Tweet this.

Our hearts are stirred and we know that prayer works.

Many prayer warriors get weary and discouraged. It only takes one answered prayer to give them that extra boost to soldier on.

Personally this year 2013 has seen many answered prayers. The most recent one happened last week to a friend. It seemed impossible that her husband could drink the 44 ounces of water required for an ultrasound. Just thinking about it upset my friend.

So we prayed. And I continued to pray that morning.

The joy on her face when she told me that truly her husband had had no problem ingesting that amount of liquid and holding it; and that she remained calm throughout the whole procedure – that made my heart sing.

That’s God at work.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7, NIV).

What are you experiencing in answered prayer? Can you share with us in the comments? And let us be encouraged to carry on in the battle. If you have written a post on answered prayer please write the URL in the comment section so we can come and read it.

Blessings to you, prayer warriors,

Janis

Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator

Jan, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published two devotionals and a number of articles for magazines and a Bible study. She is owner of Under the Cover of Prayer and moderates the site. Jan has completed a children’s book called Tadeo Turtle. She is the watercolour illustrator. Word Alive has published Tadeo Turtle. See more information at Jan’s Website.

PERSISTENT PRAYER

 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.

THE PERSISTENT WIDOW

The Persistent Widow

by Judith Lawrence (reprinted with permission August 2010)

This month’s meditation is on the 15th parable of Jesus unique to the Gospel of St. Luke. It is the Parable of the Persistent Widow, and is found in Luke 18 verses 1 – 8 (NLT).

Jesus takes every opportunity afforded to him to teach his disciples how to pray. The parable of the Persistent Widow is to show the disciples how important it is to have faith when praying to God, and how they should never give up on prayer.

In the parable, Christ says that even the unjust judge will answer the request for justice if only to get relief from the widow’s persistence or obstinacy. Jesus said:

Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” Luke 8: 6, 7 (New Living Translation).

Sometimes we give up on prayer too quickly. We live in a society of instant responses—we write an e-mail to someone across the other side of town and, in a few moments, it is possible to receive an answer to that e-mail. If we need to eat, we can take a ready-made dinner out of the freezer, put it in the microwave, press a few buttons and, in less than five minutes we can have a hot, satisfying meal.

When we make a prayer request to God, we often expect the same instant results as the reply to our e-mails or a hot meal from a frozen dinner. We do not expect to be kept waiting.

But God has his own timing; he sees the big picture and not just the small world that surrounds our individual needs. God answers our prayers at the right time, which only God knows; we have to be faithful and continue praying even when it seems as if God is not listening—he is listening but it may not be the right time for our prayers to be answered and so we must learn to pray and wait with faith.

God may answer our prayers in unexpected ways; and because God’s answer to our prayers may be unexpected we have to be watchful. If we are looking for a particular result in answer to our prayers, we may miss the answer that God presents to us outside the box.

Jesus sums up the parable by asking the question, When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith? It is important to keep on praying in faith even when we have been waiting for a long time without an apparent answer to our prayers. This is one of the ways we can practice being faithful so that we can be sure that we will be among the number whom Christ finds with faith when he returns to earth.

THE “BUT” OF CONSTANT PRAYER

The “but” of Constant Prayer

by Violet Nesdoly (reprinted with permission October 23, 2010)

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Acts 12:1-19

TO CHEW ON: “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” Acts 12:5

I love how the little word “but” in the middle of the sentence of our focus verse suggests a change of direction in what follows. It’s as if Luke were saying, This thing that was happening to Peter was really bad, insurmountable even, but (nudge) look at what followed because of constant prayer.

The word my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible uses to describe this kind of praying is “Importunity.” I know, I had to look it up too. It means persistence in making demands or requests; repeated demands or requests.

Here are some Bible characters who were importunate:

– Abraham, when he asked God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah because of Lot (Genesis 18:32).
– Jacob, when wrestling with the angel (Genesis 32:26).
– Moses, when praying for the people (Deuteronomy 9:18).
– Hannah, when praying for a child (1 Samuel 1:1-20).
– Jesus, teaching it in a parable (Luke 18:1-5).
– Jesus, praying in the garden (Luke 22:44).
– And of course the church in our focus verse today.

This is probably one of the easiest kinds of praying because it arises out of a felt need. As you can see by the list above, Bible people did this kind of praying in a variety of situations. Some prayed for others this way (Abraham and Moses), while others prayed for themselves (Jacob and Jesus). Some prayed about situations they wanted changed (the church), while others prayed out of a deep desire for something personal (Hannah, the woman in Jesus’ story). Whatever the situation, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” James assures us (James 5:16).

The story of Peter’s release from prison is almost comical in the characters’ delighted surprise when their prayers are answered. See Peter shake the sleep from his eyes, the fog from his brain as he walks behind his mysterious liberator through the Jerusalem streets. See flustered Rhoda leave Peter knocking at the door while she interrupts the prayer meeting to tell everyone the good news. See poor Peter, knocking and knocking and knocking… I hear those guys; why aren’t they letting me in?

I would probably be no less scattered if some of my importunate prayers were answered. Though that isn’t a great commentary on the robustness of my faith, I’m going to put this lesson into practice right now and importune God about a few of the things that have been on my prayer list for a long time. Will you do the same?

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this story of a direct answer to persistent prayer. Help me to remember it when I struggle with discouragement and the temptation to give up in my prayers. Amen.

MORE: Quotes about persistent prayer

“Continual prayer will be appropriate — yes required — in many cases. Large issues have long-range consequences that may require a lot of time to work out.” – Jack Hayford, quoted in Prayer Powerpoints, compiled by Randall D. Roth, p. 167-8 (origin: Prayer is Invading the Impossible, Logos, 1997, p. 141).

“To think there’s always going to be a quick solution or even a satisfactory-to-us answer is a faulty expectation. Sometimes answers to prayer lie dormant, being fertilized by unceasing prayer. When the seed finally germinates, rapid growth can take place.” – Edith Schaeffer, quoted in Prayer Powerpoints, p. 168 (origin: “Restoring Vitality In Your Prayer Life: An Interview With Edith Schaeffer,” Intercessor for America Newsletter Vol. 20 No.1 January 1993).

“George Mueller prayed fifty-two years for an unsaved loved one, but it wasn’t until some time after he died that his loved one came to know Jesus Christ as Savior. I believe our prayers go right on living and working even after we die.” – Hope MacDonald, quoted in Prayer Powerpoints, p. 166 (origin: Hope MacDonald, Discovering How To Pray, Zondervan, 1976, p. 86).

PERSISTENCE

Persistence

by Rose McCormick Brandon

“So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened” Luke 11:9,10 (AMP).

Persistence is important in all areas of life but no where more important than in prayer. Jesus told of a man who knocked at his friend’s door late at night. He needed bread to feed a late visitor. The friend tucked in for the night refused to get up. The man knocking wouldn’t to take “no” for an answer. It was his “keep on knocking” characteristic that caused the sleepy man to get out of bed and give his neighbor bread.

In Barnes’ commentary, he writes, “If the thing (we ask for) is for our good, and if it is proper that it should be granted . . . let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere (in prayer) until God gives it.”

Too often we pray a few times for a promised blessing and then give up. After praying for the infilling of the Spirit a few times, a man concluded, “Well, God knows where I live and if He wants to fill me with His Spirit, I’m available.” If our employer forgot to pay us, would we not make phone calls and visit his office continually until he cut us a check? We wouldn’t leave money that rightfully belonged to us unclaimed.

Jesus, the giver of many unclaimed gifts, has planned to give them to the preserving.  Are you continually knocking and asking for God’s good things – salvation for loved ones, the power of the Holy Spirit, guidance, wisdom, opportunities to witness, employment and so much more – if you are, keep on. If you’ve given up in despair, grab the doorknocker of Heaven again.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” Luke 18:1-5 NIV.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence
Talent will not –
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent
Genius will not –
Unrewarded genius is frequently found
Education will not –
The world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence alone is unbeatable.   (author unknown)

Prayer:

Lord, thanks for the reminder to persist in asking for your blessings. Please give me Your strength and courage to keep knocking on Your door.

Rose McCormick Brandon writes personal experience essays, Bible studies, news articles, profiles and devotionals from her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.