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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why Keep Praying When There Seems To Be No Answer?

In review of Ephesians 6:18 it says, “Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers”

Bottom Line:
Stay alert and be persistent with your prayers, pray with the help of the Spirit always.

What this means to me:
I am to ask God for his help by praying on every occasion, especially as led to by the Spirit. For this reason, I am to keep alert and never give up; pray always for all of God’s people.

Today's passage comes from Ephesians 6, where Paul tells us about using the whole armor of God and prayer. He tells us to to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against the evil rules and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so that you can resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. So stand your ground by putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Then pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

In our culture, I am so accustomed to getting what I want sooner, rather than later.  I know I will often take it upon myself to obtain what it is I want.  Being persistent in prayer and not seeing immediate results is tough.

So today I’m considering why I should be persistent in my prayers, when it doesn’t seem an answer is going to come? In this I’m reminded that there are four reasons:

First, persistent prayer will help focus my attention. When I pray a prayer request over and over, it’s not to remind God. He doesn’t need to be reminded! Rather it’s to remind myself who the source of my answer and all my needs is. If every prayer I ever prayed were instantly answered, two things would be true. First, prayer would become a weapon of destruction in my life. And, secondly, I’d never think about God, because he would become my personal vending machine. If every time I prayed I received instant results, all I’d think about is the blessing. God wants me to think about the Blesser (and what he has provided already)!

Second, persistent prayer helps clarify my request. A delayed answer will give me time to clarify exactly what it is I want and to refine my prayers. When I pray persistently to God and say something over and over again, it separates deep longings from the mere whims. It says, “God, I really care about this.” It’s not that God doesn’t want to answer my prayers. He does. It’s just that he wants me to be certain that that’s what I really want.

Third, persistent prayer will test my faith. James 1:3-4 says, “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (NLT). The only way I can grow to spiritual maturity is to have my faith tested. One of the ways God’s going to test my faith is by delaying some answers to my prayers.

Lastly, persistent prayer prepares my heart for the answer. When I make a request of God, God almost always wants to answer in a bigger and better way than I’ve prayed. Sometimes God may deny my prayer request because I’m thinking and asking too small. He wants to give me something bigger and better. But first, he has to prepare me for it. So God uses delays in answering prayer to help me grow, to help me get ready, to help prepare me for a bigger and better answer. Remember, “God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20b NCV).

Recently, I have been thinking about a job change. I have had some initial discussions with a few folks, however nothing has really materialized yet. I had started to get down on myself and thinking that I might not have what it takes (be lacking) or be over-qualified / over-paid.  I’m thinking that a delay in granting my request is probably related to all four reasons.  Focused attention (the source of my answers), clarify request (become super clear and not vague), test my faith, and preparing my heart.