Persevering prayer

Praying for people who are polar opposite in belief and behavior than I am is a struggle for me. I have to remind myself that at one time I was in a polar opposite position compared to Christ, and He still loved and saved me.  Who am I to do anything different than His example? If God would have looked at me in my earlier years and judged me as “unworthy”, I would be in an eternal pickle.  That’s putting it lightly. I would be forever lost and away from His healing and beautiful presence.

The desire to be more like Christ should be of utmost importance to me, but still after all these years of being a Christian, I’m surprised at some of my more base thoughts and reactions . Let me give you an example of what I mean. Recently on my way to work a fellow I meet on a narrow road every morning gave me a rather rude and snarky gesture, indicating I was too far toward his side of the road. Well, although I was surprised, I quickly forgave him, thinking he was probably just having a tough morning. The next morning, however, as I saw him coming around a curve, I said out loud “Jerk!”. Yep. This beyond-reproach Christian woman spewed out what was really in my heart.  I was stunned at my words and yelled, “What the heck was THAT, Lord?”  I immediately knew that THAT was something I needed to deal with…an unrecognized tendency to harshly judge others…a smugness that I allowed myself to carry while at the same time thinking pretty highly of myself. Ouch. It hurts to even think that of myself much less put it in writing. Part of the “ouch” might be that He had to deal with me twice and for a different reason. My first attempt to handle the situation was to take a different route to work so I could AVOID!  Hmmmm – another thing I need to correct!

But, in spite of my shortcomings, God is a God of grace and forgiveness. He brings things to the surface that need to be dealt with, and is willing to help me if I’m willing to let Him.

He is grace. He is love. I am thankful.

Since a teenager I have been convinced of the power of prayer.  However, there are visions for which one can labor in prayer for months, yes even for years with seemingly little supernatural response.   Through Gateway House of Prayer my ministry facilitates 24/7 prayer as over one-hundred volunteers intercede in prayer and worship.   We have seen God move supernaturally and answer 1000’s of prayers, but we also wait with expectation for things which we seek, but do not yet see.    The scriptures instruct us to not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap a harvest in due time, however perseverance is not easy work.  Hope can fade. Faith can come and go like the fog of a early morning.

Andrew Murray, in his book “The Ministry of Intercession” shifts the paradigm about persevering prayer from ‘getting an answer’ to ‘laying hold of grace’.  I realized as I reflected on his words that often my weariness or frustration in persevering is centered on me.  I seek fulfillment from God providing an answer to my prayer.  Andrew challenges me surrender my own will, to seek my fulfillment in Christ and in doing so receive grace and life.

What is education but a daily developing and disciplining of the mind by new difficulties presented to the pupil to overcome? The moment a lesson has become easy, the pupil is moved on to one that is higher and more difficult. With the race and the individual, it is in the meeting and the mastering of difficulties that our highest attainments are found. It is even so in our intercourse with God. Just imagine what the result would be if the child of God had only to kneel down and ask, and get, and go away. What unspeakable loss to the spiritual life would ensue.

 It is in the difficulty and delay that calls for persevering prayer, that the true blessing and blessedness of the heavenly life will be found. We there learn how little we delight in fellowship with God, and how little we have of living faith in Him. We discover how earthly and unspiritual our heart still is, how little we have of God’s Holy Spirit. We there are brought to know our own weakness and unworthiness, and to yield to God’s Spirit to pray in us, to take our place in Christ Jesus, and abide in Him as our only plea with the Father. There our own will and strength and goodness are crucified. There we rise in Christ to newness of life, with our whole will dependent on God and set upon His glory. Do let us begin to praise God for the need and the difficulty of importunate prayer, as one of His choicest means of grace.

Murray, Andrew (2012-05-12). The Ministry of Intercession A Plea for More Prayer (Kindle Locations 558-569).  Kindle Edition.

This month, we’re going to look at the word “prayer” in this verse, which was translated from the Greek word proseuche — an important word that is used 127 times in the New Testament! The word proseuche is a compound of the Greek words pros and euche. The word pros is a preposition that means toward, and it can denote a sense of closeness. An example of this is found in Ephesians 6:12, where the word “against” is translated from pros to describe our close contact with unseen, demonic spirits that have been marshaled against us. Almost everywhere the word pros is used in the New Testament, it carries the meaning of a close, up-front, or intimate contact or encounter with someone else.

This tells us that prayer should bring us face-to-face — in close contact — with God!

You see, prayer is more than a mechanical act or a formula to follow. Prayer is a vehicle to bring us to a place whereby we enjoy a close, intimate relationship with God. Especially when we are praying through spiritual barriers or pressing deep into the Spirit, prayer is to be a time when we draw close to the Lord.

The second part of the word proseuche is taken from the word euche. The word euche is an old Greek word that describes a wish, desire, prayer, or vow. This word was originally used to depict a person who makes some kind of vow to God because of a need or desire in his life. This individual is so desperate for an answer that he promises to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to prayer.

The first part of the word proseuche, the word pros, certainly speaks of our coming closer to God in prayer. However, the idea of sacrifice is also contained in this Greek word, picturing a person who wants to see his prayer answered so desperately that he’s willing to surrender everything in exchange for that answer. Such a person has come to this place of surrender because of his fierce drive to obtain his heart’s desire from the Lord ¾ a desire so strong that it has produced a willingness in the person to make any change in his life that God might require of him. All of that is a part of the word “prayer” ¾ the Greek word proseuche ¾ used in Colossians 4:2, where Paul urges us to “continue in prayer….”

The fact is, there are often issues in our lives that block the answers to our prayers. When we come close to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit often uses that opportunity to convict our hearts of any areas that need to be surrendered to Him. When we respond and repent, the blockages that hinder our prayers are removed and our answers often come quickly. And because the word proseuche carries this meaning of surrender and sacrifice, we know that God wants us to meet with Him and surrender every area of our lives to Him. In exchange, we will receive the answers we have so urgently requested and fervently desired.

But Paul goes on to say that we must “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving….” The word “watch” is translated from the word gregoreo, and it means to be awake, watchful, or vigilant. It refers to a spiritual, watchful attitude. One expositor has translated this word as, “Be wide awake.” Rather than go to sleep on the job after spending time praying, pressing, and interceding, you need to keep your eyes wide open so you can watch for the answer you are requesting!

Remember, the word “continue” pictures someone who so fiercely wants something that he is leaning forward toward that object, pressing toward it. He is devoted to the goal of obtaining it and busily engaged in activities that will bring the object of his desire to him. He is forward-directed, focused in prayer, pressing into the Spirit, and resolute about not giving up until he has obtained that for which he is praying. This is someone who has prayed long and hard and is now becoming weary from constant prayer. Therefore, Paul says to this person, “Stay awake! Stay on your guard! Keep your eyes open!”

Once you pray in faith and begin to make the changes God requires of you, you have to stay vigilant and watch for the answers to your prayers to show up! Stay in a strong attitude of faith that causes you to “continue in prayer with watchfulness and thanksgiving.…”

The word “thanksgiving” in Colossians 4:2 is from the Greek word eucharistia, which is a compound of the words eu and charis. The word eu means good or well. It always denotes a general good disposition or good feeling about something. The word charis is the Greek word for grace. When these two words are compounded into one, they form the word eucharistia. This compound word describes an outpouring of grace and wonderful feelings that freely flow from the heart in response to someone or something.

In order to “continue in prayer with watchfulness and thanksgiving,” you must persistently engage in aggressive prayer ¾ heartily seeking a specific answer from God as you keep your attitude vigilant and your eyes watchful for the soon-to-be-manifested answer. When you have taken this expectant stand of faith, it is right for you to lift your voice to thank God in advance for the answer you are seeking! Thanksgiving is the voice of faith that thanks God for the answer before it comes!

So what should you do if you are praying in faith for something and your answer still hasn’t come?

  • Know that it’s time to dig in and press in the Spirit toward the answer.
  • Be willing to make whatever changes God may require of you.
  • Keep your eyes open for the answer!
  • Finally, lift up your voice and start thanking God now for the answer even before it comes! It’s hard to be discouraged or defeated when you are continually thankful, so be sure to maintain a thankful, faith-filled heart as you watch for your answer to arrive!

As I close this letter, I must ask you — are you going through one of those trying times right now? Have you been tempted to give up on something you’ve been praying about because the answer hasn’t come as quickly as you desired? If so, don’t throw up your hands in exasperation and walk away! Stay in faith and remain alert, because you may be on the very brink of seeing your long-awaited answer!

How can we be praying for you this month? Denise and I and our team are honored to pray with you about the answers you are diligently seeking from God. We want to be your prayer partners! And we thank you in advance for your prayers for us as well.

We love you and thank God for you!

Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” Luke 18:1 NLT

When we don’t see the immediate answers to our prayers, it’s easy to get discouraged and quit.  But Jesus taught us to persevere, to not lose heart and to always pray.  Pray whether we see the results or not.  This takes supernatural faith to believe that God is at work, even when we can’t see it.  In those situations I remind myself that there’s a blessing given to those who even though they don’t see, still believe (John 20:29)

What are you believing for?  If you aren’t seeing it happening, I encourage you to hold on.  Don’t lose heart.  Keep going.  Confidence in prayer comes as we trust in Him who is always good, loving, faithful and just.  We can’t see the whole picture.  We see things “darkly” through a veil.  But we can trust He is working all things for our good.

What is the one thing you are going to persevere in prayer for?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Let’s pray for each other to persevere!

Jesus, I need You to give me supernatural vision and faith to believe for ___________________.  I trust that You are at work, even when I can’t see the results I’d like to see.  My hope is in You, not in circumstances changing.  I thank You that You are always loving, gentle, faithful and trustworthy.  I surrender ___________________________ to You.

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