Persevering Prayer

By David J. Stewart

Luke 11:1, “...Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

       I want to teach you something so simple, so amazing, and yet so overlooked in today's churches. What I am about to say will forever change the way you pray and ought to. I hope and pray that you'll allow God's Spirit to speak to your heart as my words speak to your mind...

In Luke 11:1-4, we read what is commonly referred to as “The Lord's Prayer.” Albeit, it is actually the disciple's prayer since they asked Jesus how to pray and He is teaching THEM how to pray...

Luke 11:1-4, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”

We are to briefly pray for our self each day. The Lord mentions asking God for our “daily bread.” In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus taught His disciples NOT to spend a long time praying for themselves...

Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

God already knows what our needs are. The Lord wants us to humble ourselves by praying each day, thus showing that we know that we need God's help each day. James 4:6, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” God helps the humble, but resists the proud. If we don't pray, we are sinfully proud. In 2nd Chronicles 7:14, the first remedy of a fallen nation is to humble ourselves and pray. God is so reasonable that He even tells us NOT to pray long prayers in Matthew 6:7-8. The Lord's prayer can be prayed each day in under five minutes. Of course, we're not supposed to repeat it word-for-word; but rather, follow it as a guideline of what things to pray about concerning our self. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Do we thank God with just one of them? There's no excuse not to pray each and every day.

Then Jesus continues by teaching his disciples about persevering prayer (a doctrine rarely taught in churches today because it involves living for OTHERS). Now the Lord tells us that God is PLEASED by long prayers in this area, that is, praying for the needs of OTHERS ...

Luke 11:5-13, “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

This is what the Bible teaches about prayer. We are to pray daily for our needs, but not belabor these requests because God already knows what we have need of. Ah, but then God wants us to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:4-5). God wants us to spend time praying for others—for the ministry, for our nation, for our neighbor's burdens, for lost loved ones to get saved, for the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and work behind the scenes as He so beautifully does while we preach the gospel! OTHERS! God wants our mind off ourselves and on OTHERS!

Most believers don't pray persevering prayer because they aren't interested in living for OTHERS. Television is all about me, myself and I. The middle letter of the word “sin” is “i.” Most people have “i” troubles. God is pleased when we empty our self of SELF and instead think on the burdens and needs of OTHERS. Persevering prayer means to keep bombarding God with our requests FOR OTHERS. God is pleased when we focus on the needs and burdens of others. God knows our needs before we ask Him, and He also knows how prone to selfishness we all are as humans.

Do you know when God turned the captivity of Job around? This truth is amazing. Job lost his children to death, he lost his wealth and servants, he lost his crops and livestock, he lost his health... and then his wife told him to curse God and die. Poor Job! Please keep in mind that Mrs. Job lost all those things to! Her ten precious children died. Her wealth was gone. Her crops were gone. Her livestock was gone. Her husband was diseased with boils. So let's not be too hard on the weaker vessel, she couldn't take anymore. Let's give Job's wife credit... she stayed! She didn't quit and file for divorce like sinful wives do today.

And if all that weren't horrible enough, Job's so-called “friends” came and condemned him. They said God doesn't allow bad things like this to happen to a righteous man. Then they said Job's children must have sinned. They accused Job, kicking him with their cruel words of hypocrisy. Most people would hate such friends. Job even called them “miserable comforters” in Job 16:2. Yet, please notice what the Bible remarkably says in Job 42:10, “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Isn't that something? God turned the captivity of Job “when he prayed for his friends” who were as enemies to him.

Oh, listen my friend, this will revolutionize your prayer life if you grasp what the Bible is teaching. God wants us to pray daily for our needs; but then he wants us to spend the bulk of our time praying for OTHERS!

This type of prayer life pleases the Lord. And the Bible says in Matthew 6:7-20 that this is how we lay up treasures in Heaven.

Lord let me live from day to day,
In such a self-forgetful way,
That even when I kneel to pray,
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes, others;
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee.

—Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

The Christian is not supposed to have a prayer life; but a life of prayer!

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,
 and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

—2nd Thessalonians 1:8

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