January 18, 2012

Perseverance is not a very romantic concept.

It isn’t sexy or popular and is never very exciting. It has a very limited shelf life for most men. At its heart, it’s simply sticking with a job until it gets done. When it comes to prayer, perseverance is one of the most critical components in determining effectiveness. Face it: Prayer is hard work. Perhaps the hardest work we are called to do in our lives and ministries.

I would much rather write this blog on prayer than engage in actual prayer for an extended period of time, or keep on praying daily for the same need. Do you ever wonder why we need to be persistent in our prayers?

Why did Jesus say that we are to always pray and never give up?

That command from Luke 18:1 is predicated upon our tendency we to quit when something gets hard or lasts too long. Until the King returns, we will continue to see an increasingly sinful and hostile world. We grow weary are tempted to quit struggling against the tide. It’s a lot easier to go with the flow. So Jesus tells us to constantly be declaring to God our dependency on him.That is hard for us as men because we are by nature “fixers” and don’t like to admit that we need help with anything. We think that bulldog determination and the power of positive thinking will enable us to make it through the trial. The truth is, it doesn’t.And if we are able to be successful for a time, that becomes a source of pride for us, robbing God of his glory.

The widow’s persistence in appealing to a heartless judge finally pays off: the judge grants her request in order to get her off his back! Is the point that if we nag God long enough He will finally be persuaded to grant our request? Is He like the cruel, selfish judge? No, a major lesson we learn from this story is that we are to continue to pray for our needs as an expression of our recognition that God’s timing is not always our timing. And his timing is always best. Despair causes us to quit. Dependence keeps us in the battle. Persistent prayer is the clearest reflection of our confidence that God really is in control and really is watching out for us. He has our backs! Throughout the ongoing struggle, He continues to demonstrate his faithfulness to bring us through the trial.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

– Article contributed by Ken Sheppard, Director of Mentoring for the Master’s Men ministry.