by David Brenneman
The definition of persistence is: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
In Mark 9:29 NASB we read Jesus's reply to the disciples as to why they couldn't cast out a certain type of demon. "And He said to them, "This kind cannot come out by anything except prayer." The demons also were challenging Jesus. Go back a bit and you see that even after receiving the command from Jesus to depart from the child, they fought...and lost. Satan and his forces always lose in the immediate sense, through prayer, and in the long run, at the Final Judgment.
Persistence is a key ingredient to prayer. Some know the meaning behind ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.
Many know of the passage of praying without ceasing.
Many know of the passage where Jesus tells of asking, seeking, knocking.
But do you take it seriously? Or only when it's beyond the rubber meeting the road, and now the rim is grinding on the asphalt, pain has set in. Discomfort has set in. You want to run because people are being harsh. People are being consistent in their criticism and not letting up. To make matters worse you see those things happening to those whom you love and you want to get inbetween. You want to retreat to where it's safe.
Hate to break it to you and everyone...including reminders to myself...we are never promised a completely safe life when we come to Christ.
God has an enemy named Satan, one of His created most beautiful angels, and because of pride sin came into being and hundreds of thousands of angels fell with Satan. Now are without the power of God in them...they are demons. Demons indeed are prevelant in this world. Note very clearly that all the demons that Jesus cast out were NOT condemned to Hell...not yet. That's going to happen at the Final Judgment. They also were not condemned to Hell because Satan has no residence there. They are where he is. Right here on Earth. Satan also has to go before God every day to give an account of what he's been doing. He still has to obey God's will. Satan and his demons cannot arbitrarily go after Believers. He must have permission and limits are set. What he's allowed to do will not go beyond the will of God for a Believer's growth in Christ as He sees fit to allow to happen. We who are in Christ are HIS workmanship. Often you use destructive tools to bring about non-destructive results. Positive results. Look at the story of the Prodigal Son. Evil was allowed only for a time, until truth dawned and the son returned too ask forgiveness. God allows things to happen, AND allows mercy and grace to be applied so that those who have strayed, who have backslidden can find their way back and be forgiven. Once we come to Christ, the process of sanctification begins. We have not the power to stop it fully. We can slow it down...but when we leave this world it WILL be completed. No work of Christ is ever left undone.
Prayer requires persistence at times. Sometimes it does not. Part of this has to do with our own hearts. Jesus had said on many occasions to the disciples that they weren't getting things becaue of a hard heart. His time with them broke up that soil to make it possible for truth to get in...and understanding to dawn on them.
Persistence in prayer should also happen with us to refine our own requests. We have our own idea of what we're asking God for...but maybe it's not aligned with what He's willing to answer to....at least not yet. Maybe not at all. We can persist in prayer and yet still God allows a loved one to suffer or maybe even to die. Trusting God even in those moments is essential to our own growth in Christ. We don't know every single detail that God does.
A very good example is found in the Old Testament. A king wept and cried out to God about sparing his life. He was dying. Had he accepted God's will, God's plan, one of the most murderous people known to mankind wouldn't have been born.
I have, many times, been to where being persistent in prayer had the result of seeing God answer in unexpected ways.
Running from a situation because of the way people can and will be...isn't being persistent in prayer. It's giving up before you get to the battle.
It's not to say that there won't be times when attempting to be persistent in prayer isn't going to bring about positive results. Sometimes a no from God is still a firm no from God. Moses begged for God to change His mind about allowing him into the Promised Land. His persistence got him a conversation where he was told to stop it. That God wasn't going to allow it.
Many Believers walk away from God over critical people. They take up jobs and find a cushy place to live out their days without the conflict. Guess what...it will still find them. We cannot avoid what God intends us to face in order to know Him more...to know Him better....to become more like Him. While the breath of life is still in a person there's still hope that they will see the error of their ways and they turn to return to God in obedience...as the Prodigal Son did. Those who yet still refuse...will still stand before Jesus one day to explain themselves. I don't know about you...and I probably will hear it myself....but I don't relish the idea of hearing the words "Why didn't you..." coming from Jesus.
Persistence is part of a strong character. Persistence is taught in all branches of the military and even in civilian services because it's necessary.
Paul said to run the race as if to win the prize. That prize being the crown of righteousness that Jesus is going to give. Jumping off the race track because of how people can and will be...will cause God to have to do some work in us to bring us back on that track. We cannot pray for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven and NOT expect that to include ourselves.
I'm speaking as much to myself as I do to anyone reading this. I'm in the midst of a search myself for a specific answer to a prayer. It's a persistent prayer. It's important enough to keep bringing to the feet of Jesus. If I'm not obeying Jesus...if I'm not walking with Him as I ought to...coming all the way to the feet of Jesus isn't likely to happen. We don't come to Jesus's feet on our terms...we come on His.
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