So welcome one and all to part II of persistent prayer. Before I start, I just want to remind you of a few things: Firstly, persistent means:
“Never ceasing; relentless; unrelenting. Continually recurring to the mind; haunting.”
By now I hope all of you know what prayer means (hint we’ve been covering this topic all month). Persistent prayer can be associated with persistently asking for something. Whether it is something that you need or something that you want, that is often debatable. What is the easiest way for a little kid to get what he or she wants? Well by pestering mom or dad about it of course. My own prayers are often like that, I have to admit, much to my embarrassment. Luckily our God isn’t swayed by my whiny prayers for something that I want. He knows what I need just when I need it.
For this article I am going to focus on a specific aspect of persistent prayer, how we pray through times of suffering and hardship.
Perseverance in suffering through prayer:
Prayer is powerful. Persistent prayer is powerful. When you are suffering, praying to God constantly during that situation will get you through it. Not necessarily by making the problem go away, but by giving you the strength to get through it.
This may seem a little strange to some, but think about it; when you are going through a hard time or something bad happened to you, you are going to tell your closets friends about it. More often than not, just talking about it will make you feel a lot better. Praying to God in times of suffering will help you, but in an even bigger way.
Jesus often talked about prayer. In Luke 11:9, after giving us the guidelines that are known as the Lord’s prayer; He says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.”
So we are encouraged to pray until we are answered; (Not necessarily by what we are praying for being granted though) to seek until we find.
The next example that I am going to use was also mentioned in the last article, but I am going to use it as well.
Jesus Christ prayed when He was suffering:
This example is set in the garden of Gethsemane. Just before He was to be arrested, tried before the High Priest and Pilate and nailed to the cross to die. Jesus knew His fate and all that was coming. He was battling.
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” – Matthew 26:38.
After the last supper they would share together before His death, Jesus and his disciples went to the garden to pray. The disciples of course are famous for falling asleep at this point (which I am not going to dwell on any further) while Jesus prayed. The first time He asked. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Matthew 26:39). He was begging His father to take the coming suffering from Him, but also accepted that God’s plan was to be fulfilled, not His own. Then Jesus goes back a second time praying “My Father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” By this point He has accepted that He was going to have to die because it is God’s will. He then went back a second time, praying the same prayer. After this Jesus went back to His disciples and was able to face what was coming unwavering.
If Jesus Christ prayed during his darkest hour, we have all the more reason to. Why is that so important?
We should pray like Jesus prayed in His time of suffering by telling God about our suffering and asking him to take it away from us. At the same time accepting and trusting that He knows best. His plan has the best outcome for us, even if it does involve suffering.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
How is this going to help us get through a situation or period of time when we are struggling? This brings me to my next point.
Trusting someone wiser and stronger:
When you are overwhelmed by a situation that you can in no way handle by yourself, you would go to someone who you are certain would know how to deal with it. For example, you have a science problem that you have never done before, so you go to your science teacher knowing that they will be able to explain it to you. Or you are working with a youth group and you don’t know how to deal with a difficult child, you will go to your own youth leader and ask for advice. You will go to these people because you trust them to know what to do.
All these people are human and will make mistakes. They don’t know everything and will sometimes not be able to offer all that much help. But we trust them to help us anyway. Praying to our God who knows EVERYTHING, past, present and future; who has a plan for our lives, and trusting Him with our problems can be even more reassuring surely?
“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
“Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22
Placing our troubles at God’s feet is like trusting someone older and wiser to take control of a situation that we cannot handle. Except it is the Wisest and the all-knowing God who you are trusting.
In our lives now as young adults, we are faced with circumstances and choices that are much harder than ever before in our lives. The opposition we will be receiving because of our faith is happening in ways that we haven’t experienced before. We have even more cause to be praying now, to be spending time with God and giving our troubles to Him. As a young person, a young Christian, who wants to survive the challenges you are faced with daily, and challenges yet to come; it is vital for you to be praying. Praying persistently.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
We are promised peace. A wonderful peace. A peace that has served as a shelter for me on several of those occasions that people like to call character building situations. I would like to share this peace with you. I know that without it my life would have looked a lot different. It is amazing. When you are suffering, overwhelmed, hurt, emotionally exhausted, stressed or just generally going through a tough time (And even when you are not); just pray, place your troubles at God’s feet. Pray for strength, wisdom and growth. Pray persistently!