Most of us know what prayer is, at least in its most basic form. If you are like me then from when you were a little kid you were taught to pray before a meal and before bed. But do you realise the importance and seriousness of prayer? Do you understand that prayer has to be persistent?
When we pray we are not just throwing our words into the sky, hoping for a favourable answer; we are communing with a holy God. Most of us realise this but do we understand just how holy God actually is? Isaiah condemned himself with the words “Woe is me!” when he saw God (Isaiah 6:5). That is pretty Holy if you ask me. We need to come to God in complete respect and utter reverence. Even so, this does not mean that God is not willing to help us.
So what does persistent prayer look like?
When Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments he prayed earnestly to God for the sparing of the Israelites. He even tried to ‘convince’ God saying: “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did He bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and consume them from the face of the earth’?” (Exodus 32:12). Moses is asking God why He would smite His people if it would result in God being viewed as cruel and harsh by people who do not know Him. He also reminds God of a promise that He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob) to multiply their offspring and give them the land that He had promised them. After hearing this, it says that, God ‘changed His mind’ and spared the Israelites.
We can see from this example that we should pray earnestly to God, and even try to convince Him. God is Holy and you might ask “how can you try and convince such a Holy God who knows everything?” Something that we are unable to completely grasp in our finiteness, is that God desires that we go to Him with our prayers, and to keep doing so until we get an answer. We might not understand why, but we do not always understand why God asks us to do certain things, yet we still do them. We need to realise that prayer is a plead for what we are asking to be answered.
When we pray, it is all good and well to try and convince God, but that will get us nowhere if our prayer isn’t persistent. Persistent meaning “continuing firmly”. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) He prayed persistently. He went and prayed once that the cup may be taken from Him. He then found the disciples sleeping yet that didn’t put Him off as He went back and prayed for the same a second time. The disciples didn’t get the message the first time He woke them up and He found them sleeping again. STILL He went and prayed for a third time. This episode would have gone on for a few hours at least. A long time to spend in prayer, and it was definitely persistent. We can see from this that Jesus greatly desired that He would be spared and tried to convince God, His Father (God is also our Father), through persistent prayer to spare Him. Jesus prayer was answered, we need to understand this. It may not have been answered in the way He would have preferred, but it was answered. The answer was “no” and His persistent prayer got Him to an answer from God. Sometimes we simply pray to get to an answer from God, even if it is not the answer we like or expect. There are times that we will not convince God to what we believe is best. However, it will always work out for the best because He is sovereign.
Another great example of persistent prayer is David: he wrote his prayers in the form of Psalms, but many of these Psalms were earnest pleadings with God, and they happened regularly. David prayed persistently.
From these examples we have seen how to pray. We know that prayer has to be respectful and in reverence to God, it must be a conversation with God, we need to implore God to answer our prayers, and we need to pray with persistence. When we combine these strategies, the result is a good way to pray.
As I have already touched on, although we may pray for something persistently over and over again and try our best to convince God, it may not be His will to answer our prayers in the way we want him to. We need to accept and respect that, and know that it is God’s Holy decision. We simply need to remember that praying persistently is a command – 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says that we are to “pray continually”.
We as Christians need to join together in prayer for the many issues in the world. We need to stand together as the body of Christ. Remember that we are allowed to ask for our own desires. Pray then for the world, and for your own needs and desires. Pray fervently, implore God to answer your prayers and pray persistently.