Prayer Classics: Persevering in Prayer
In my blog posts this week, I am quoting portions from some classic Christian writings on prayer.
Today’s quote comes from With Christ in the School of Prayer by South African pastor Andrew Murray (1828-1917). This passage, from a chapter titled “The Power of Persevering Prayer,” is based on Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. In that parable, Jesus teaches us that we “should always pray and not give up.”
Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest. We cannot easily understand why the Lord who is so loving and longing to bless us, should have to be petitioned time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When our repeated prayers remain unanswered, it is easy for our lazy flesh – maintaining the appearance of pious submission – to think that we must stop praying because God may have a secret reason for withholding His answer to our request…. [But once] faith has taken its stand on God’s Word and the name of Jesus and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek only God’s will and honor in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay. It knows from Scripture that the power of believing prayer is considerable; real faith can never be disappointed….
Prayer must often be heaped up until God sees that its measure is full. Then the answer comes. Just as each of ten thousand seeds is part of the final harvest, frequently repeated, persevering prayer is necessary to acquire a desired blessing. Every single believing prayer has its influence. It is stored up toward an answer that comes in due time to whoever perseveres to the end….
… The blessing is all prepared. The Father is not only willing, but is most anxious to give [His children] what they ask. His everlasting love burns with His longing desire to reveal itself fully to His beloved and to satisfy their needs. God will not delay one moment longer than is absolutely necessary. He will do everything in His power to hasten the answer.
But why – if this is true and God’s power is infinite – does it often take so long to get an answer to prayer? And why must God’s own elect so often, in the midst of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? … Of course the [farmer] longs for his harvest. But he knows it must have its full term of sunshine and rain, so he has plenty of patience. (See James 5:7.) A child so often wants to pick the half-ripe fruit, while the farmer knows to wait until the proper time.
… [O]nly the Father, who determines the times and seasons, knows the moment when the soul or the church is ripened to that fullness of faith in which it can really take and keep a blessing. As a father who longs to have his only child home from school and yet waits patiently until the time of training is completed, so it is with God and His children.
Insight into this truth should lead the believer to cultivate the corresponding attitudes of patience, faith, waiting, and praise, which are the secrets of his perseverance. By faith in the promise of God, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him. Faith holds the answer in the promise as an unseen spiritual possession. It rejoices in it and praises God for it…. It is in persevering, confident, and praising prayer that the soul grows up into full union with its Lord in which it can possess the blessing in Him….
The great danger … is the temptation to think that it may not be God’s will to give us what we desire. If our prayers agree with God’s Word and are led by the Spirit, don’t give way to these fears.
Learn to give God time. He needs time with us. In daily fellowship with Him, we must give Him time to exercise the full influence of His presence in us. Day by day, as we are kept waiting, it is necessary that faith be given time to prove its reality and fill our beings entirely. God will lead us from faith to vision; we will see His glory.
Don’t let delay shake your faith, for it is faith that will provide the answer in time. Each believing prayer is a step nearer to the final victory! It ripens the fruit, conquers hindrances in the unseen world, and hastens the end. Child of God, give the Father time! He is longsuffering over you. He wants your blessing to be rich, full, and sure. Give Him time, but continue praying day and night.