By Michael Goldsmith
Have you ever prayed and waited… and waited… and waited… for an answer that never came? It’s similar to making a phone call, leaving a request to return the call, and wondering if the message was thrown away, ignored, or misplaced. Or sending a letter in anticipation of a reply and pondering the famed “dead letter” office or lost in transit. You think surely your letter is lying in a room somewhere, unopened and forgotten.
There have been occasions when I prayed and I thought that the windows of heaven had been closed, padlocked, the blinds had been pulled down and the security system turned on. Angels were instructed to turn their backs and a deaf ear. A sign hangs at the entrance, “Closed.” And maybe, in more paranoid moments, thought a memo had been circulated to ignore my prayers.
Having both experienced and felt these kinds of things in prayer, I can relate to the lady in Luke 18. Jesus begins this chapter by addressing His disciples and teaching them on prayer. He taught them that “at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” Then He continues by relating a story of a lady with an urgent legal matter ignored by the judge. Yet we can learn something about her prayer and our own need for persistence in prayer from verse 3 where it says, “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to (the judge)…” It wasn’t her need that got the attention of the judge nor was it his sense of compassion. In fact, the Bible says that this judge was “unwilling” to address her legal issue. But her persistence was something that he couldn’t ignore. We read in verse 5 that the judge’s impression of this widow was that “she bothers me” and “I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.” By all appearances, this lady had her need met because of her persistence with the judge. Then Jesus concludes the teaching by telling His disciples “now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night ?”.
Persistent prayer is an important aspect of our spiritual life. Needs are met not because there are needs. Look around – everywhere you look there are needy people. Needs are met because of persistence to seek God until something happens. When you feel heaven has closed up, the windows are shut, the gates slammed closed, the angels deaf and the throne empty, persevere. Keep pressing into the Lord. Make another contact to Him. Send another letter. Get back online with heaven. And just as Galatians 6:9 teaches, “Let us not lose heart… for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”
Persistent prayers often clarify our thinking. Maybe we are praying amiss, as James says. Persistent prayer clears our motives, focuses our thoughts, gives us time to ruminate on what we are really praying about, make changes and adjustments, and so forth.
Believing that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him (as Hebrews instructs us), brings me to the conclusion that just maybe God wants me to really think through what I’m asking.
Persistent prayer gets the attention of a good God. May the good hand of the Lord unlock heaven, shine towards you, answer your heart’s cry, and show forth the excellence of His greatness and faithfulness to you today.
Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, AR, and Tulsa, OK. He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.