Ephesians 6:18; Persistence in prayer because of faith in its effectiveness, part 2.
Thursday July 28, 2022
The parable of the persistent widow helps us to understand some important truths that will enable us not to get weary about prayer but to continue to persist in it.
We must stress, before we leave this parable, that even if it looks like God has no more readiness to help you than this judge, that it seems that God will never raise a finger to help you, keep praying. It only seems like He is delaying long, for He has purposes and plans that none of us can understand; for us and others and the world. And while we wait, doesn’t He reassure us that the resolution of the case demands delay, and that His timing is perfect? While we wait, doesn’t He remind us again and again that He is for us and not against us, that all things work together for good to those who love Him, that He loves us? – these messages are like daily notes come to our doorstep to reassure us that in time the case will be decided in our favor.
And, if the unrighteous judge will give in, though we don’t understand all the reasons for God’s delay, how much more will the righteous God give us what we ask. If we ask for a fish will He give us a snake?
Luk 11:1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." 2 And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 'Give us each day our daily bread. 4 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'
"For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. 11 "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
Though we could not understand all the reasons why God asks us to persist in prayer, the promise is that we will receive, find, and walk through doors we never knew existed.
Of course, we can deceive ourselves from the fact that at bottom our prayers are dictated by self-love, or some provision for the flesh, petty ambition, or to gratify some earthly passion, to which God would ever have to say, “No.” Perhaps our desires would have done more harm than good.
All of these problems will work themselves out, and away, as we learn God’s word and strive to apply the truth to our lives. The truth will set you free if you know it.
God considers the results of our desires much deeper than we do, or can – and He is always for us.
When God delays, He is teaching us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, upon which all things will be added.
When we get up above what is merely selfish, individual, and earthly, we rise to the region in which we see what God is aiming at and counts worthy of His efforts. Then our hearts will be enlarged by the knowledge of His purposes, and we will begin to seek the common good and blessings that are eternal. Then also, we will know that our prayers must prevail, because they are deeply enmeshed in God’s will, desires, purposes, and efforts.
Other issues are a lack of faith and a lack of capacity (lesser things like growth must come before greater things like maturity; the branch, the blossom, and time must come before the fruit.
We must always remember this about our requests to God, we might be asking for certain fruit before there has been sufficient growth of the branch, blossom, and time enough for readiness. Our children ask us for knowledge and what can we say but to wait. Most knowledge of important things takes time and effort to understand. We can only say to our children that we will be sure to give them a good education over years of schooling and if they persevere, one day they will have it. The children cannot get knowledge without parents and teachers, but neither can they get it without much hard work on their own.
So when we become suddenly aware of our lack of Christian temper because we shamed ourselves with an outburst, or we become suddenly aware of our lack of godly courage because we fell apart, or our charity, our temperance, our knowledge, and we then rush to God and ask for His grace to meet the need, the answer will be much like our Lord’s when the disciples asked Him for more faith. He told them a parable of a master who demanded that a slave do what he was told.
Is faith, virtue, charity, temperance, courage, etc., easily manufactured within us? If we lack them, can we put the on like a jacket? Ask God and He immediately fits you for a jacket of courage? The qualities we need are the result of a long process that is sometimes quite painful.
Some day, if you haven’t already, you’re going to ask God for humility because you see your lack of it and dire need of it. If you really mean it, which is akin to asking with faith, it is a great prayer and one of the many milestones in your spiritual walk, but watch out. God isn’t going to turn on some humility switch within you that He has so far neglected. He is going to send you things like the thorn in the flesh. In fallen man, humility is always the result of humiliation. It doesn’t have to be public humiliation, but God will determine that.
to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh
And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time
O Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble;
Thou wilt strengthen their heart,
Thou wilt incline Thine ear
When James’s and John’s mom asked Jesus if they could sit on His right and left, His response was, “Can you drink the cup I am about to drink,” i.e., will you give your life for what you know to be true?
We must know that we do not understand the management of all things in heaven. It is for us in this time to seek, and ask, and knock. We know nothing, so by faith we inquire of the only One who does.
There is still yet another issue: Why would God include our interests into His own eternal purposes?
But even though God’s power to answer prayer is not questioned by all the faithful, it may still be doubted whether He can be expected to depart from His purpose or plan of all that is to be. It is sometimes said to be irreverent and blasphemous to ask God to allow our wills to influence His, our wisdom to be included into the grand plan, our interests to be added to the purposes of God.
I think of the many times in David’s psalms where he could only be writing about himself and His circumstances and yet the very words were prophetic, sometimes being stated by the Lord Himself, at key moments, word for word. Did God force David to write the words a thousand years before the birth of Christ knowing that Christ would say them and do them? Did not David think up the words on his own, inspired yes, but still from his own ingenious mind understanding himself, his situation, and Almighty God who loved him?
Into Thy hand I commit my spirit;
There are several more examples of the same thing. David’s prayers (psalms) were included in God’s purpose, and in this case, for the Lord Jesus Himself. These lines from David were well within the will of God. They were not things that sought to alter the plans of God. We are all to pray according to His will. Still, these lines, I’m very much inclined to think that they are original from David’s mind, are included in God’s plans.
Knowing the graciousness and the unlimited ability and intellect of God, it is obvious that God could include this very thing, along with our own prayers that are not recorded in the Bible, but will be recorded forever in God’s book.