Perseverence in Prayer
Father, the course that You have set before me is clear. You have called me into this prayer group to respond to the many prayer requests we receive from those who need agreement or who don’t know how to pray for themselves.
Lord, You are the Vinedresser, Jesus is the Vine, and I am the branch. I remain in Him and He remains in me, and my prayers bear much fruit; apart from Him, I can do nothing.
Father, at times I am tempted to grow weary and overburdened with the pain and heartache of others. Help me to remember that Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 NIV). I take His yoke upon me and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Lord, Jesus said that I ought always to pray and not to turn coward (faint, lose heart, or give up). I am earnest and unwearied and steadfast in my prayer , being alert and intent .
Therefore, since I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, I throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and I run with perseverance the race marked out for me. I fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of Your throne. I consider Him Who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that I will not grow weary and lose heart during times of intercession.
In His name I pray, amen.
John 15:1-7 AMP Colossians 4:2 AMP
Matthew 11:29,30 NIV Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
Luke 18:1 AMP
© 2014 Word Ministries, Inc.
A dictionary would define perseverance in these or similar words: a steady persistence in activity, purpose, or a state in spite of difficulties. Isn’t it then reassuring to know that a great saint and mystic, such as St Teresa of Avila herself, struggled in prayer until she was 41 years of age? Because she also suffered with health problems which weakened her bodily, she gave up on prayer rationalizing her health as an excuse.
Distractions were no stranger to Teresa. Her very temperament shows in her writings as she jumps around from one topic to another leaving the thread of her original thought hanging while she moves on to another lengthy discourse before she eventually returns to what she was saying previously.
The time we spend in prayer is not about our success at it; it is rather about our relationship with Him who loves us. Teresa cautions us not to use “force” to obtain a spirit of recollection but instead to “be gentle” with ourselves. Listening is essential during this stage of our spiritual development. Many voices will vie for our attention: our own inner voice, the voice of the world, the voice of the Tempter, and the voice of God. To sift out God’s voice in this cacophony of voices we need to be determined in our resolutions for good.
Some practical ways of doing this is to set a reasonable length of time for prayer, one we can better achieve. It may be less than what we had hoped to do but as time goes on and we find ourselves looking forward to those moments, we can always increase the length of time that we spend in prayer. We do not want to set an unreasonable goal that will turn us into clock watchers or cause us to grit our teeth until the time we allotted to prayer is over. It is in this Mansion that we come to know more about God and deepen our friendship with Him. This is the Room for a hard work-out; it is not the Mansion for consolations.
In our persevering prayer we gradually become more conscious of God’s Presence…. We are filled with gratitude for the infinite mercy God showers on us. It is in this second mansion that one really learns to pray, but we cannot learn unless we are willing to labor and not return to a former state simply because it required less toil or because we become disheartened. What will make the difference? It depends on what we want most: the things the world holds out to us or intimate union with God. Where does our treasure lie? How much do we desire God? How much are we willing to sacrifice?
Will your mind still wander? Undoubtedly! Do not become anxious. Return your focus to Him and if needed, read some brief passage from Scripture or a devotional prayer and continue to soak in His Presence. But above all, do not use excuses to abandon or omit your prayer time or shorten it. With perseverance God will give you blessings beyond your expectations.
Let us remember Teresa’s prayer:
Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains everything.
God alone is enough.
Posted on 29 May 2013.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—
his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20
A Lesson in Patience
One September, I cut some leaves from our parsley plant to throw in a salad and discovered on the back of one leaf two swallowtail butterfly eggs like tiny pearls. We were leaving for the beach the next day, and I was very distressed that I had likely killed the future butterflies. I called the butterfly house at the science museum in Houston and was told to keep the leaf moist until the eggs hatched, and the caterpillars would live. So I put the leaf back under the parsley plant, and my dear mother misted it each day for a week. The night I found the eggs, I dreamed that two caterpillars hatched but later died, and then I looked down and saw a whole clutch of butterfly eggs and knew they would hatch soon and live.
When we returned from the beach, the two caterpillars had emerged and were busily munching parsley. They next day, I found seven more caterpillars on another parsley plant. My husband built a butterfly house, and we put the two plants and their inhabitants in it on the front porch. When it was time to make their chrysalises, the first two died before the process was complete for them, but the next seven completed the process. Because it was fall, they wintered in their chrysalises rather than emerging two weeks later as butterflies. They did not emerge until late April. It took them so long, that I thought they had died. When they did come forth, one at a time, in their beautiful perfection, it was like a miracle. And indeed, it seems to me a miracle that something that small, undergoing such extensive change, can survive without any sustenance for so many months.
I tell you this story because the things we pray for are often like those butterflies. There are things of such life and death importance that we bring before God, and the requirement of patience as we wait for answers to manifest can sometimes feel unbearable. We can worry that the thing is dead, that there is no hope, but often in nature what appears to be dead is merely dormant and very much alive.
I’m reading the book, Intercessory Prayer, by Dutch Sheets (thank you, Kevin Shorter). In it, he tells a story of praying several times a week for a year for a woman who was considered brain dead from a massive bacterial infection. Her medical providers considered her to be without hope, but when Dutch prayed, he felt led by the Holy Spirit to pursue her healing through prayer. He was ridiculed, discouraged and insulted by staff. After investing 70+ hours of prayer, he saw no outward change in her. It would be very tempting for most of us to bow to the obvious and give up, but Dutch relied on the unseen, not the seen, and the woman woke one morning, completely restored. The staff was dumbfounded, the doctors called her a medical miracle, and the nursing home where she stayed was contacted by people as far away as Europe interested in her case.
I want to encourage you to not give up, to persist in your prayers, and to ask God to help you partner with him as you intercede for others. He will encourage, strengthen, and direct you as you rely on him.