By Evan Burns
Evan is a graduate student at Wheaton College and the Chicagoland Coordinator for SVM2.
Persevering prayer is key to overcoming the hard-hearted resistance of the lost. Immediately following the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:5-9, Jesus taught a critical lesson about the role of perseverance in prayer.
To teach us persevering prayer, Jesus uses a strange parable about a man who persistently asks for bread from a friend. The friend gives the man the bread, not on the basis of their friendship, but because of his persistence.
“I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:8).
If an earthly friend can be moved by persistence, imagine how much more it will accomplish with our heavenly Friend.
There are a few fundamental lessons on prayer in this parable. First of all, notice what Jesus says about their relationship: Even though they are friends, the one friend will not get up and get a loaf.
So, that implies that it is not our relationship with God that finally determines whether or not we get what we ask. Granted, our relationship with God is the reason He hears our prayers at all, but that is not always the final reason for why He answers them.
Often, God will answer our prayers based on our persistence. Our perseverance and ceaselessness in prayer proves our faith. “When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live” (EM Bounds).
Our faith is tested by the resolve of our perseverance. In prayer, faith does not necessarily determine how soon our answers will come; rather, faith determines how long we will persevere until those answers come. Faith and perseverance are inseparable.
It is interesting to read the rest of the passage in light of the surrounding, immediate context. In verse 8, Jesus just finished emphasizing that persistence in prayer is what often determines the outcome.
And then in the following verse, Jesus continues with statement, So I say to you, ask [a??te´?], and it will be given to you; seek [??te´?], and you will find; knock [????´?], and it will be opened to you. Each of the Greek verbs (ask, seek, knock) are in the “present active indicative” tense.
The nuance of this tense can imply continuous action. Since the surrounding context clearly emphasizes persistence in prayer, which is continuous prayer, it would make sense to translate the verbs in verse 9 as such: keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.
This continuous nuance emphasizes the idea of persistence in prayer that Christ is stressing so heavily.
Persevering prayer is essential for overcoming the resistance of lost peoples. We must keep banging on the door of heaven, hounding God to blow apart the daunting resistance of the hostile peoples.
We must not tire; we must not relent; we must continually fight on our knees. We ought to focus on God’s power to soften their hearts. Resistance of the heart must be confronted head-on with resistance in prayer to never give up.
Editor’s Note – The two writings above were not intended to both be about prayer but it is the way that the Holy Spirit led each of the writers. I think that through this He is trying to communicate something to us that I don’t want us to gloss over quickly.
There is a cry in the heart of God for an increase in all out devotion to prayer in this generation. Let us respond to Him in this moment by consecrating ourselves afresh as prayer warriors who take this calling of global prayer and intercession seriously.