Friday Devotional: Praying with persistence
I have said many times that prayer is something that is better caught than taught. As guys from many different chapters have asked me about prayer, I’ve encouraged them to find a praying man to pray with. Reading about prayer is good. Praying with someone who has a deep, passionate prayer life is much, much better.
I am so thankful for the men God has placed in my life who have displayed a life of intercessory prayer. They have demonstrated over and over again what it looks like to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16.) These men have forever left their mark on my life.
Having said that, I have been reflecting on my prayer life recently and have really wanted to go deeper. I absolutely believe that God hears and answers our prayers, yet so often I find myself running to other solutions when a crisis presents itself in my life or in the lives of folks around me.
As a leader of my family, I find myself trying to address issues that come up in practical ways rather than by boldly approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in my family’s time of need. As I have considered these things, I have been challenged by the story Jesus tells about a lady in the book of Luke.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” -Luke 18:1-8
Regardless of whether you have someone older or younger in your life that is teaching you how to pray, we can all find a couple of keys in this passage that can encourage us in our journey to know and seek God through prayer.
Lesson #1: We have a very real enemy that we need deliverance from.
The widow in this story had an adversary. She was well aware of the person who was coming after her and she knew she needed someone to defend her.
We all, like this widow, have a very real adversary. John tells us that our enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). Paul tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Jesus even tells his followers to pray to the Father for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).
When we forget our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), we tend to think we are in the clear. This enemy of ours has lulled many of us to sleep to the point that we don’t even realize we are at war. The more aware we are that we have an enemy, and that we are at war, the more we will in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).
Lesson #2: We are in desperate need of a defender, protector and provider.
This widow was destitute. She had no husband to protect her from her adversary. On her own she was vulnerable and weak. The same is true for us. Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). The more aware we are of our own need, the more we will depend on God. The more aware we are of our need, the more we will persistently approach the throne of grace for mercy and grace. The more we understand our need, the more we will trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, while acknowledging Him in all of our ways. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
If you are struggling to pray, you may consider whether or not it is because you have forgotten how broken you are without Jesus and how utterly destitute and incapable you are on your own. Perhaps you have forgotten that we are in a very real war with unseen forces. That you have an enemy that is looking to take you out at any moment. Perhaps this same enemy has so lulled you to sleep that you have become completely unaware of his schemes.
My encouragement to each of you is to look to the widow in this parable of Jesus. Let her example remind you of your adversary and of your great need for a deliverer. Allow the awareness of your adversary and your need for a deliverer drive you to the throne of grace each and every day. Let us be a brotherhood of men that is always going deeper in prayer together. May we ever, increasingly become praying men!