*Pray and Persevere
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
Luke 11:1 NIV
Immediately after our Lord answered this request [above] of His disciples, he showed them the absolute necessity of using prayer if we would receive any gift from God.
He told the story of a man who begged his friend at midnight to get up and lend him three loaves of bread. Though the friend would not rise and give him because he was his friend, yet because of his troublesome persistence, his friend will rise and give him. Jesus said, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you.”
How could our blessed Lord more plainly declare the means—persistently asking—by which we may receive of God what otherwise we should not receive at all?
“He spoke also another parable, to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not lose heart” (see Luke 18:1)—to persevere until they receive of God whatever petition they have asked of Him: “There was in a city a judge…[and] there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her” (Luke 18:2-5 KJV).
Our Lord Himself made the application for those who cry day and night to Him: “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:8 KJV).
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this fifty-fourth lesson on prayer, Wesley shows us, in the scriptures, the advantage of being persistent in our prayers. But we first must be assured that God hears our prayers.
In Psalm 17, King David says,
1Hear a just cause, O LORD, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips. 2 Let my judgment come forth from Your presence; Let Your eyes look with equity. 3 You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night; You have tested me and You find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 4 As for the deeds of men, by the word of Your lips I have kept from the paths of the violent. 5My steps have held fast to Your paths. My feet have not slipped. 6 I have called upon You, for You will answer me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, hear my speech. 7Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Your right hand From those who rise up against them. 8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings 9 From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies who surround me. 10They have closed their unfeeling heart, With their mouth they speak proudly. 11They have now surrounded us in our steps; They set their eyes to cast us down to the ground. 12He is like a lion that is eager to tear, And as a young lion lurking in hiding places. 13Arise, O LORD, confront him, bring him low; Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword, 14From men with Your hand, O LORD, From men of the world, whose portion is in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, And leave their abundance to their babes. 15As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
Believing God hears us and then persistently praying allows us to invest spiritually in our relationship with God and with others. The following story illustrates this point.
In Point Man, Steve Farrar tells the story of George McClusky: When McClusky married and started a family, he decided to invest one hour a day in prayer, because he wanted his kids to follow Christ. After a time, he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Every day between 11 a.m. and noon, he prayed for the next three generations.
As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into full-time ministry. The two couples produced four girls and one boy. Each of the girls married a minister, and the boy became a pastor.
The first two children born to this generation were both boys. Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates. During their sophomore year, one boy decided to go into the ministry. The other didn’t. He undoubtedly felt some pressure to continue the family legacy, but he chose instead to pursue his interest in psychology.
He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books for parents that became bestsellers. He started a radio program heard on more than a thousand stations each day. The man’s name—James Dobson.
Through his prayers, George McClusky affected far more than one family.