A profound parable, found in Luke 18:1-8, tells the story of a ruthless judge who fears neither God nor man and a widow who comes to him repeatedly with the request, “Grant me justice.” For the longest time, he refuses to consider her request but, finally, in exasperation, he says:
“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 complaining!”
Jesus said, in that same way God will bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night. Here's the principle: the key to praying with power — the key to getting results in prayer — is to keep at it. Pray with persistence!
This is where we most often drop the ball when it comes to praying. Too often we pray for a while but, when we don't get an answer soon enough, we give up. We say, “It must not have been God's will” ... or we say, “Maybe this prayer thing doesn't work after all” ... or we say, “Maybe God doesn't care enough about me to answer my prayers — He'll answer prayers for others, but not me.” None of these are true, but we fool ourselves into believing them simply because it's easier to give up than it is to keep praying.
God answers prayer, but He doesn't answer every prayer immediately. There are some prayers that He answers only when we pray persistently. Why? Why does God want us to pray with persistence? The following three reasons help to answer that question.
First of all, persistent prayer keeps you in God's presence. Just like the widow stood before the judge day after day seeking justice, persistent prayer on our part places us in God's presence, day after day after day. “Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God, so that life from God flows into our life…”1 There’s something more important to God than answering your prayer — He wants a personal relationship with you. He wants you to know Him intimately. He wants to be your best friend, your constant companion. Persistent prayer helps you develop and nurture your relationship with God. That's why Jesus said, in verse 6, that we're to cry out to God “day and night.” God wants to be the central focus of your life. The purpose of prayer is not to get God to do things for you — it is to teach you to depend on him.
Secondly, persistent prayer helps you define and refine your requests. I believe that anything you want, you should pray for first. Anything at all. Does that mean you'll get it? Of course not, but this is what will happen. As you pray earnestly and persistently over a period of time, you'll refine and redefine your request, according to God's will. At first, you may ask for one thing, but as you continue to pray and seek God's will, your request will be transformed into one that is pleasing to Him. When we begin praying for something, we might not be praying for all the right things for all the right reasons. Persistent praying helps you define and refine your requests so that you're ultimately asking for something that is consistent with God's will.
“…our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good — that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are.”2
Thirdly, persistent prayer proves your faith. Jesus ended this parable by saying, in verse 8: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” In other words, will He find people praying persistently? Persistent prayers demonstrate faith. Earlier in the gospel of Luke, when Jesus was teaching on this very same subject, He said,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The verbs “ask,” “seek” and “knock” are spoken in the present tense, indicating an ongoing action. In other words, “Ask and keep on asking;” “Seek and keep on seeking;” “Knock and keep on knocking.”
You prove your faith by continuing to ask. That's how we need to pray. When we have refined our requests and are asking for the right things, God will answer our prayers. Jesus said so. /p>
“And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
Wait a minute. Does He say “quickly"? Then why do we have to pray and pray, and ask and ask, seemingly forever? Because “quickly" is determined by God's timetable, not ours. "Quickly" doesn't mean we can snap our fingers and God will speed up the process; it means that God will answer our prayers on time. He's never in a hurry, but He's never late; He always right on time.
Power in prayer is found in persistence. It keeps you in the presence of God; it helps you refine your requests according to His will – not yours, and it proves your faith
“When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most.”3
1 Ellen White, Steps to Christ, pg. 98
2 Ibid, pg. 96
3 Ibid, pg. 96