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Bible verses about Persistent Prayer
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Mark 7:26  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The term translated "kept asking" (NKJV) or "besought" (KJV) is in the imperfect tense in the Greek, implying continuous action. Her persistence is seen in her constant pleading with Him and is emphasized by the fact that she pleads continuously in spite of the various rebuffs she receives. Few people would have continued praying after the first few rebuffs, as most of us are prone to quit if we do not receive a swift answer.

Christ says, "Men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1)—and this woman did not lose heart! She faces four rebuffs that required great persistence to overcome to obtain help for her daughter: deafness to her plea (Matthew 15:23), discouragement from the disciples (verse 23), demotion of her position (verse 26), and deficiency in her opportunities (Mark 7:28). Are these rebuffs any different in principle to the ones we experience in our prayers?

Even though it seems that Christ sometimes ignores us, He does not really, merely delaying His response to strengthen our faith and resolve. Answers can give great encouragement, but delay checks our sincerity and forces us to be more fervent, strengthening our faith. Christ's turning a deaf ear to the woman's prayer should encourage us in our prayers when they are not answered immediately. Even the most sincere and faithful prayers, as this woman's was, can be delayed by God. Because we give up so quickly, delay exposes many of us as having little faith, so Christ frequently tests our faith to improve its quality.

We can never allow ourselves to be satisfied with our faith because, as God knows, we need more faith if we are to do more for Him. He rewards persistent faith that includes a full assurance of hope. Faith overcomes obstacles, personal trials, and the world. The apostle John writes, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:4-5).

That is the faith we need!

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Syro-Phoenician (Part Two)


 

Luke 11:1-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This passage is devoted to one major objective: to instruct us concerning our perception of God the Father.

  1. He is not a reluctant stranger who can be bullied into bestowing His many gifts simply because of our many words. That is not the issue for being persistent.
  2. He is not a malicious tyrant who takes vicious glee in the tricks that He plays on His subjects—by giving a scorpion rather than an egg.
  3. He is not an indulgent grandfather who provides everything that is requested of Him. He does not spoil His children.
  4. He is our heavenly Father who graciously and willingly bestows good gifts when they are needed in answer to prayer.

The key is "good gifts when they are needed." God's good gifts may come a little bit at a time. Sometimes, we are not even aware that it is occurring, yet He has been supplying the very thing that we asked for. Somehow or another, we are not sharp enough spiritually to see it.

The parable clarifies one aspect of why we must be persistent in prayer, but there is another that deals with our perceptions of God's power and His purpose and how our requests fit into them. Unfortunately, we often misunderstand God's role as Creator and tend to think of Him narrowly as being our Benefactor. He is both Benefactor and Creator. However, we tend to emphasize the Benefactor aspect, while He tends to emphasize the Creator aspect. So when we feel a need, and our desire is great because we feel that the need is urgent, we want our desire filled immediately because we see it as the answer.

We may be absolutely correct that it is the answer and that what we are asking for is good in God's eyes—it is according to His will. However, there is more to our request from God's point of view. He lives in a different timeframe than we do; time does not mean the same thing to Him as it does to us. In addition, His perception of our request is different because He is looking at it from the vantage point of His purpose rather than from our limited goals, which are often to have relief, strength, a gift, or power so that we might be able to serve Him better. The request may be good and entirely justified, but God is still looking at it differently than we are.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Persistence


 

Luke 11:5-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus taught by example, and this is particularly true in terms of prayer. Once, after He was finished praying, His disciples asked Him to show them how to pray (Luke 11:1-4). He responded by giving them an outline of what to include in a typical prayer. Then, after having taught His disciples to pray, Jesus furthers His instruction through the Parable of the Persistent Friend (verses 5-13), which pictures persistence and perseverance in prayer.

The parable includes three friends. A visiting friend had traveled for many hours to where he thought he would be offered food and shelter, but he had none, since his host's family had already eaten and retired to bed for the evening. Custom, however, dictated that the weary traveler be provided food. Not wanting to neglect his friend even though it was late, the host, a persistent friend, went to a sleeping friend's house nearby to ask for bread.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Luke 11:5-7  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The sleeping friend, awakened by his persistent friend, was irritated to be bothered so late at night. He flat out refused to give him any bread for his visiting friend, lest his sleeping wife and children be disturbed. He probably reasoned it would be better for one person to fast until morning than for his whole family to be disturbed at midnight. However, the persistent friend continued knocking, threatening to wake not only the whole family, but the whole neighborhood as well! So he got out of bed and gave his friend some bread—but not out of friendship. He gave in to persistence. A friend is a fine source of aid (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), but God the Father and Jesus Christ are our spiritual friends—our greatest friends. They give grace, mercy, and truth abundantly (Psalm 121:1-8; 86:15; Ephesians 3:20; I Timothy 1:14-16).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Luke 11:8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

People often give up because a request is "repeated." The requester cannot allow himself to become discouraged merely because his first or second request is denied. He must be persistent. The Greek word translated as "persistence" means "shameless," suggesting freedom from the bashfulness that would stop a person from asking a second time. Knocking once does not indicate perseverance, but "continued" knocking does.

God often answers us after long and persevering requests. He hears prayers and grants blessings long after they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He does not promise to give blessings immediately. He promises only that He will do it according to His will and plan. Although He promises to answer the prayer of the faithful, often He requires us to wait a long time to try our faith. He may allow us to persevere for months or years, until we are completely dependent on Him, until we see that there is no other way to receive the blessing, and until we are prepared to receive it. Sometimes, we are not ready to receive a blessing when we first ask. We may be too proud, or we may not comprehend our dependence upon Him. Maybe we would not value it, or the timing for it may simply be wrong. If what we ask for is good and accords with God's will, He will give it at the best time possible.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Luke 11:9-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

First, we must humbly ask according to His will, not our own pleasures (James 1:5-8). If something we ask for is contrary to God's plan, no amount of persistence will force Him to give in (James 4:3). When requesting anything of God, most people often stop asking when He does not immediately intervene. Human nature is easily discouraged because it thinks on a physical plane, but with God all things are possible. We need to be optimistic that God has heard and will respond in a good and faithful manner (I John 5:14-15).

Second, we must seek to know our true motives and God's will regarding the request. We seek to find out what we must do to bolster our faith with works (I John 3:22). Do God's promises include the blessing we ask for?

Third, we must knock. We must persevere, be persistent, pressing the matter until we receive it (Hebrews 4:16). We should faithfully go to God repeatedly, until He responds to our prayers and grants what we ask of Him—if it is according to His will.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Luke 11:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This section contains instruction important to praying effectively. Verse 9 is written in the present imperative tense. It means to keep on doing something that one is presently doing. "Keep on asking." "Keep on seeking." "Keep on knocking." This fits exactly with what precedes it in the illustration of the persistent friend.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Persistence


 

Luke 11:11-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The sleeping friend had to be awakened and pestered into lending the bread, but God does not sleep and is never disturbed when we approach Him. We do not have to force Him into giving because He never gives reluctantly; giving is a major part of His nature. Although God is generous, we should pray perseveringly as David did, not being afraid to ask repeatedly according to His will (Psalm 86:1-7, 15-17).

The intensity God desires in our prayers is emphasized by the admonishment to "ask, seek, knock." All asking is not considered seeking, but only patient and persistent asking. All seeking is not considered looking in the right place, but only seeking the truth. All knocking is not considered attention getting, but only energetic and persistent knocking. The threefold admonition is in itself an admonition to ask diligently, repeatedly, and long-sufferingly. By this parable Christ exhorts us to be patient, persevering, and persistent in prayer. If the persistent friend who sought the bread for his visiting friend was not discouraged by a negative response but continued to ask earnestly, how much more diligent should we be in beseeching God who willingly and abundantly gives (Matthew 6:30-33)? God does not answer our diligent prayers to be rid of us but because He loves us (Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 49:15).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Friend


 

Luke 11:11-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This context actually begins back in verse 5 with a story about a man going to another person's house, knocking, knocking, and knocking on the door, but the man asleep inside does not want to get out of bed. We often think that the lesson we are to glean from this is to be persistent with God. However, that is not the lesson in this particular story.

The lesson is the contrast between the churlish man, who had to be forced out of bed to give his friend some help, and God, who readily gives the anointing of His Holy Spirit. A person does not have to beg God to receive His Holy Spirit from Him! He wants to give that to us! It is the one thing that He wants above all other things to give to us, and we do not have to beg Him for it.

Jesus is not saying that we should not be persistent when going before God. Certainly, we should be courteously persistent, but that is not the lesson here (it is, however, the lesson in Luke 18:1-8). Luke 11 teaches that one need not beg God for His Holy Spirit. He will give it to us generously, all that we need, to get us through every single day. He will anoint us with it!

We need to ask Him for it, because it is what will make the day worthwhile. It will smooth out all the irritations and aggravations—the metaphorical flies that buzz around our head every day. Each of them may be capable of leading us to commit spiritual suicide—should a sin grow into something more dangerous.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)


 

Luke 18:1-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) teaches the necessity of patient, persistent, and persevering prayer, much like the Parable of the Persistent Friend (Luke 11:5-13). A mention of prayer precedes both parables. Though delivered in different situations, they both show the absolute, immeasurable contrast between God and men, and provide evidence that God yields to the saints' pleading and urging. Both parables depict a person granting a request because of his selfish motives. The Persistent Friend's persevering prayer is for necessities, while the Persistent Widow's is for protection. Both parables conclude that God will not fail us as friends and acquaintances often do.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow is especially linked with the final crisis of the last days and the painful circumstances the faithful remnant will face. Prayer will be a major resource for them. Since vengeance is God's alone, they know He will judge their oppressors, but as they wait for deliverance, persevering prayer will be their refreshment and supply of patience. The parable is preceded by Jesus' exhortation on the Christian duty to pray, dedication in prayer, and resisting the temptation to discontinue prayer. It concludes by indicating that prayer is a matter of faith.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow


 

Luke 18:1  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Concerning our habits of prayer, "always" does not mean we should pray every single minute of the day. If this were so, the faith involved in prayer would be a dead one, as we would never have time to do the works required with it (James 2:17-18, 20, 26). "Always" means that we should be faithful to our regular times of prayer. Concerning the time of prayer, "always" includes the fact that we should pray in both good and bad times. Sadly, some pray only in a crisis, and others forget to offer a prayer of thanksgiving when God has intervened to solve a problem or provide a blessing (I Thessalonians 5:17-18). Regarding the spirit of prayer, "always" means we should be continually ready to pray, praying whenever a crisis hits or a need arises. Because they reveal our priorities, good habits of prayer show dedication to God and strengthen our relationship with Him.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Persistent Widow


 

Luke 18:1-8  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Luke 18:1-8 contains the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Luke prefaces Jesus' narration of the story of the widow's pestering of the unjust judge with the comment that our Lord gave this parable specifically to encourage people "to pray and not lose heart." The basic subject of this passage of Scripture deals with the question: Will a person ultimately cave in, downcast and discouraged, because of the difficulties and trials he faces throughout his Christian life, forsaking all the truth and opportunities God has given him?

Christ's parable teaches us that we are to continue to pray and not falter or become dejected if our prayers do not seem to be answered right away. We are to come to understand that if a request is not granted immediately, God may be testing us, teaching us patience, or working out a purpose we cannot see. We must understand that He works on His timetable—not ours—and that He always works out what is best for us and for our particular situation (Romans 8:28). Our job, then, is to persevere in our faith in God, always trusting Him in what we ask of Him.

In the parable, we see the widow coming before the unrighteous judge with her complaint, though Christ never informs us about its specifics. We do not need to know the details; it could be any grievance. The callous judge has no pity in him, but the widow is so persistent that the judge reasons within himself that he had better avenge her lest she wear him out with her incessant visits. The phrase "weary me" literally implies striking blows and giving the recipient a pair of black eyes! This was one persistent woman!

If a reader of this parable is not careful, he could judge God as being comparable to the unjust judge, that is, that He will not answer our requests promptly unless we bother Him with constant pleas for help. Actually, Jesus is contrasting the faithfulness of our loving God to the cynical, self-serving, unrighteous judge. The latter is not in any way a good man, but a godless one who is just trying to shield himself from being annoyed.

Jesus is trying to get us to realize God's never-ending love and faithfulness to His children. We are to see that all that God is, the judge is not. God is always willing to hear us and to answer our prayers if according to His will. He always hears the cries of His own elect or chosen ones. Indeed, God will avenge or vindicate His people.

The point is that, if the unjust judge—who could not have cared less for the widow—at length responded to her cry merely to rid himself of her aggravating requests, then shall not God—who loves His chosen people and gave His Son for us—answer our prayers when we are under trial or in need?

John O. Reid
Will Christ Find Faith?


 

Luke 21:36  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The "praying always" that Jesus commands in Luke 21:36 affects every part of our Christian lives. It is the tool that God gives us to be in constant contact with Him so that we can truly bring every thought into captivity, under the control of God (II Corinthians 10:5). We are encouraged to make bold use of this tool for our every need (Hebrews 4:16). We need to explore some of the important implications that striving to pray always—praying at all times—has on this life to which God has called us.

In Luke 21:36, Christ also commands us to "watch." The underlying Greek word stresses the need to be alert or on guard. This fits with a major requirement of Christian life, that we examine ourselves. We are to be alert to those things about ourselves that will disqualify us from entering God's Kingdom so that we can change them.

Self-examination is such an important spiritual activity that God includes it as a major part of one of His seven festivals, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. II Corinthians 13:5 exhorts, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." Our ongoing efforts to submit to God's laws and standards are evidence that Christ and His faith are in us (James 2:18).

God always gives us choices (Deuteronomy 30:19). Consider the example of Jonah. He could have done exactly what God asked of him, but instead, he rebelled, having to suffer an intense trial to bring him to obedience to God's will. Notice, however, that God's purpose never changed. The only variable was how much pain and suffering Jonah chose to experience before he submitted to God's purpose. Initially, he chose rebellion and trials over submission to God.

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Five)


 

Revelation 3:20  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Do we really want fellowship with God? Our frequent contact with God, or lack of it, is an easy, concrete measurement for both God and ourselves to know the true answer.

A Laodicean's central characteristic is an aversion to God's presence. He does not gladly throw open the doors to let Christ in. Instead, he wants his privacy to pursue his own interests, unimpeded by the constraints God's presence would impose.

Striving to pray always throws open the door of our minds to God, and just as Luke 21:36 indicates, by vigilant watching we can spot our Laodicean tendencies, overcome them, and avoid tribulation. Commentator Albert Barnes makes some interesting points on Revelation 3:20:

The act of knocking implies two things:

(a) that we desire admittance; and

(b) that we recognise the right of him who dwells in the house to open the door to us or not, as he shall please. We would not obtrude upon him; we would not force his door; and if, after we are sure that we are heard, we are not admitted, we turn quietly away. Both of these things are implied here by the language used by the Saviour when he approaches man as represented under the image of knocking at the door: that he desires to be admitted to our friendship; and that he recognises our freedom in the matter. He does not obtrude himself upon us, nor does he employ force to find admission to the heart. If admitted, he comes and dwells with us; if rejected, he turns quietly away—perhaps to return and knock again, perhaps never to come back.

Striving to pray always is our conscious choice to let God in. Psalm 4:4 (Contemporary English Version, CEV) emphasizes the seriousness of examining ourselves: "But each of you had better tremble and turn from your sins. Silently search your heart as you lie in bed."

Every night, at the end of another busy day, provides us—and God—an opportunity to evaluate the true intent of our hearts. We can ask ourselves: How much and how often did we acknowledge God throughout our day? How much did we talk to Him and fellowship with Him today? Where did we miss opportunities to do it? Why?

Perhaps the biggest question to ask is this: When did we hear the "still small voice" today and hide from God's presence? Our daily answers to these self-examination questions and our practical responses could in a large measure determine where we spend both the Tribulation and eternity (Luke 21:36).

Pat Higgins
Praying Always (Part Five)


 

 




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