The Value of Persistence


PrayerDo I really need to tell you the value of persistence?

Anyone who has ever played sports knows the value of persistence.

  • The runner who runs mile after mile.
  • The Lebron James wannabe who spends hours shooting hoops.
  • The gymnast who repeats her routine again and again on the parallel bars.

Musicians know the value of persistence too. [I’ve got to insert a joke at this point, a one-liner from comedian Robert Orben on persistence. “If you’re ever tempted to give up, think of Brahms who took seven long years to compose his famous Lullaby. He kept falling asleep at the piano.”]

Thomas Edison and his team were dogged in their persistence. They tried 6,000+ different items to serve as the filament in a light bulb. He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”

sandingI get persistence. I am a woodworker. Ask any woodworker what he hates about woodworking and he will tell you, “Sanding.” This is one task, though, I’ve learned to embrace with persistence. Working through the different grits takes time, especially on a large project, but in the end you get a very clean and smooth surface. Recently a neighbor admired a cabinet in my living room. “How did you get the top so smooth?” Persistence in sanding.

Persistence in prayer baffles me, though. I know Jesus taught us to persevere in prayer. In Luke 11, He gave us an illustration about the need to persevere. Verse 9 tells us to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” The Greek grammar means to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.”

  • God invites me to pray and desires to answer my prayers (Jer. 33:3).
  • No prayer is beyond God’s ability to answer (Isa. 59:1).
  • God promises to answer if we trust and believe (Mark 11:24).

I believe those truths. So why does God answer some prayers immediately and others require me to pray continually and persistently? It seems a single prayer to the One I have full faith in would do.

When God doesn’t answer right away, my faith in Him is not shaken. I do persist in praying. I have been praying for several things for years—and I will continue to do so because (1) God calls me to, and (2) I believe He will answer in His time. In the Bible Studies for Life session on persistent prayer, Jonathan Falwell said it well:

God supplies the answer when we need it, not just when we want it. We can trust the omniscient God to know what is best for us, so we can also trust His timing. Let’s not look on prayer as trying to convince God or change His mind; instead, let’s look at persistent prayer as a vehicle to move us into a position of humble submission and trust before God.

Persistent prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.

This post is based on the study “God’s Promise of Answered Prayer” in BibleScreen-Shot-2013-06-24-at-1.41.38-PM (1) Studies for Life.

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2 thoughts on “The Value of Persistence

  1. Pingback: Stand Strong, Session 4 (God’s Promise of Answered Prayer) – All Leader Resources

  2. I wonder about your reference (Mt.7:7) quite often as it seems somewhat askew from other verses which suggest no need to continue praying for the same thing over and over until we see an answer. I think I understand the importance of staying in constant communication with our Lord as in;
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    I’m not certain He means for us to repetitiously keep continuing over and over with the same request(s). There are certainly things in our lives which hinder or even keep our prayers from being heard and in that case yes, those things need to be resolved before our prayers are heard and it may be necessary to ask again. Examples;
    1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
    Psalm 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

    HOWEVER…
    Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
    Matthew 7:7-11 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
    John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
    John 15:16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
    John 16:23-24 In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
    James 1:5-6 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
    James 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

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