One of the mysteries of biblical prayer is that the Lord is honored and pleased when His children persist in prayer and don't give up. And if you stop and think about it from heaven's perspective, it makes a lot of sense.
After all, consider the importance God places on faith. It is only through faith that man receives the forgiveness of his sins. And it is only through faith that God answers prayer. So I suppose it shouldn't surprise us that the Lord attaches special blessings to persistent prayer.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow who kept going back to a judge over and over again in order to get justice. Our Lord then declared, "And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly."
Then the Lord delivered this zinger to sum up the parable: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
Think about these two dimensions of biblical faith: (1) faith for eternity; and (2) faith for today. A person who has faith for eternity is trusting in Christ's death as the payment for his sin and eternal salvation. This miracle takes place by virtue of the Holy Spirit's work in his heart. We are not saved by what we do. Instead, we are saved by what Christ did for us on the cross. And the gift of eternal life in heaven is received through faith alone.
Meanwhile, faith for today refers to a Christian trusting God to work in the details of life here on earth. There are many aspects of our life which call for faith. And the interesting thing is that it often seems easier for a believer to trust God for eternity than for today. How odd. You would think it would be just the opposite.
At any rate, when it comes to faith for today, the Lord has woven persistent prayer into the mix. God has arranged things so that our faith for today gets tested. This happens in a number of ways. For example, God often has us wait upon Him for answers to specific prayers. At other times, the Lord allows challenges to come into our life that don't seem to make any sense. And yet it is in those confusing times that our faith is stretched and expanded.
"Why hasn't God answered my prayer yet?" Well, maybe He has answered it, but differently than you expected. Or maybe He is waiting for you to continue praying until the ultimate answer is given. God wants you to know that He is honored and pleased when you keep bringing the need before Him in prayer. This is actually one of the most precious insights concerning persistent prayer.
Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7) In other words, keep on asking; and continue seeking God in prayer; and then keep on knocking until God's answer comes in His perfect time. If persistent prayer didn't honor the Lord, He would not have taught His disciples to engage in it.
The Lord never tires of hearing from His children. In fact, He desires to have us trust Him enough to continue praying even if we have already prayed about it "a bunch of times."
Is the thing you are praying about honorable? If so, keep coming back to your heavenly Father over and over again. He loves it when His children demonstrate that much faith. And be sure to give the Lord thanksgiving and praise in the midst of your persistent praying. I wonder how many times we have given up praying just before the Lord was about to pour out a wonderful blessing.
If we know God loves us, then we can know He will only give us what is best for us as part of His divine plan in our life. This certainty leads us to be extremely confident in our prayers.
Jesus is our Savior. He "sealed the deal" at the cross and earned our way into God's family. When we pray, we need to remember the basis upon which God hears and answers our prayers. It is always for the sake of Christ. Without His sacrifice on our behalf, we would have no access to our Father in heaven. But through Jesus, we have an open line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here is how Scripture describes this incredible access: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus.....let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith." (Hebrews 10:19, 22)
Think about the privilege we have been given in prayer. And if you want to really get the attention of heaven, keep praying and don't give up. God already knows how serious He is about answering our prayers. Now He wants to see how seriously we believe Him not only for our eternal life in heaven, but also for the concerns of this life here on earth.
No wonder Jesus asked, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) Having faith to go to heaven one day is the easy part. Trusting God for the needs of today, however, is where our life of discipleship really gets put to the test. And persistent prayers of faith tell God a lot about how much His children trust Him and believe His promises.
Just think if our faith for today was as strong as our faith for eternity. Imagine how many more answers to prayer would be taking place all around us and around those we love. That doesn't mean God's answers will always be exactly what we wanted them to be, but it does mean that persistent prayer is the surest way to be "in the will of God" here on earth. And there is no better place to be than in the will of God.
So be encouraged today my friend. Through Christ, you can talk to your heavenly Father about anything, anytime, anywhere. After all, that is exactly what you were created to do in the first place.