This is a continuation of the series on Fighting the Spiritual Battle in Prayer. The third “all” of Ephesians 6:18 is to pray with all perseverance.
Jesus told his disciples to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” What did they do? They fell asleep. Why? because “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
Weak flesh and tiredness keep us from prayer. So can discouragement. Maybe you’ve prayed for something a thousand times and it seems like God isn’t going to answer.
I heard a story recently of a woman who went back to her home country to be with her father who was dying. She had prayed for her father’s salvation for decades and her trip was with a heavy heart knowing she might lose her father. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her father had already lost the ability to speak. She had no idea if he could still hear anything or how much time he had left.
This woman invited a pastor to speak to her father. The pastor shared the gospel with her father and asked him if he wanted to trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. The pastor told him to indicate if he wanted to trust in Christ by wiggling his finger (that was the only way he could communicate anything). He wiggled his finger and tears began to stream down his face. He believed in Christ and was forgiven.
We don’t know the mind of our sovereign God, but we do know that we need to persevere in prayer like the daughter of this man. She prayed for twenty years and was often discouraged when thinking about her father.
We don’t know how nor when God may choose to answer our prayers. Many of God’s responses to prayer are not immediate. Some might even come after we die, but we should pray on in confidence. In God’s matchless wisdom, He knows what’s best for our situation and what will glorify Him most.
This quote from Tim Keller comforts me when I’m tempted to give up in prayer: “We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”
In what areas of your life do you need to persevere in prayer? In a fight against sin? For a bad attitude toward someone in your life? To stay faithful and joyful in Christ during a trial? Pray with all perseverance.