Sharing Our Faith Together

Persistence in prayer

by Sue Muessig 16 October 2022

Readings - 1 Thes 5:12-18 & Luke 18:1-8  

In school this term our theme is “Jesus teaches us to pray” and we started by looking at how Jesus loved to talk to His Father about everything.  We read verses about Jesus praying in the morning, late at night, praying by Himself and praying with others.  We asked the children to think of some examples of Jesus praying in the Bible and they came up with Jesus in the wilderness, up a mountain, before meals and we have been encouraging the children that they can pray at any time too.

In last week's thought, Andy was challenging us to make prayer a habit and in school last Tuesday our theme was Prayer Patterns.

I don’t know how good you are at following a pattern – maybe a recipe when cooking, instructions for putting a piece of furniture together… At our last Refuel morning Tony was showing the children how to make bird puppets, I don’t think he will mind me telling you that it took a little bit of practise first to figure out how to follow the pattern so that he could then show the children!  Patterns can help us to create something, whether it’s a paper raven to help provide food for Elijah in our story at Refuel or a yummy cake you’ve been making at home.

In school, we then looked at the pattern that Jesus gave us when the disciples asked Him about prayer - the Lord’s Prayer.  We will say that prayer together later but here are a few words from a book called Before Amen by Max Lucado:
“The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance.  In fact, the only tutorial they ever requested was on prayer. They could have asked for instructions on many topics: bread multiplying, speech making, storm stilling… they didn’t, but they did want him to do this: “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Might their interest have been something to do with the jaw-dropping, eye-popping promises Jesus attached to prayer?  “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt 7:7) “If you believe, you will get anything you ask for in prayer” (Matt 21:22).  Jesus never attached such power to other endeavours.  “Plan and it will be given to you.” “You will get anything you work for.”  Those words are not in the Bible.  But these are – “If you remain in me and want to follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you” (John 15:7). Jesus gave stunning prayer promises.”

We have another pattern for prayer from the reading today:
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5 Verse 16

A well-known verse, but not always easy to carry out.  When things are going wrong being joyful, praying and giving thanks are often not our natural, immediate response.  Sometimes we need to make a conscious decision to do these things.  

The notes in my Bible next to the verse say “We cannot spend all our time on our knees praying, but we can have a prayerful attitude at all times.” The more we pray, the more natural it will become, so that we have our regular prayer times but also spontaneous short prayers throughout the day. For example, naturally silently thanking God when something goes well, or asking for wisdom when we need to make a decision quickly.    Paul doesn’t ask us to give thanks for all circumstances, obviously we all face situations at times that we would prefer not to, I don’t think we often find ourselves praying thank you Lord that I am stuck in a traffic jam and I am going to be late for my appointment or thank you God that I am not feeling well enough today to go to my friends birthday party… But he says give thanks in all circumstances.  So, in difficult times we can be honest with God as to how we are feeling – frustrated about being stuck in a traffic jam, sad that you can’t go the party… but still be thankful that God is with us, He is able to help us and perhaps teaching us something through it.

The parable from Luke tells of a widow who was not receiving justice for her case, so she continued to pester the judge and would not take “no” for an answer. Because the widow persisted in her pleas for justice, the ungodly judge finally relented and gave her what she asked. 

We are reminded today to be persistent in prayer and not to give up.  Keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for Him day by day, believing that He will answer.

Again, this isn’t easy.  When we have been praying for something for a long time and not yet seen the answers we are looking for it easy to lose hope and to start praying a bit less. 

But it’s important not to give up.  God may delay in answering but His delays always have a good reason.  As we persist in prayer we grow in character, faith and hope.  So, whatever you are praying for today, we are reminded that if the unjust judge responds to constant asking, how much more will our great and loving Father respond to us?

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In a time of prayerful reflection, you might like to play this piece of music quietly as you consider the prayer points below

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In your prayers today, take time to reflect on where God is calling you to persist in prayer for yourself and for others. You might find it helpful to make a note of these.

During this week, spend time bringing each prayer before God. It doesn't matter if you do this with words or a time of quiet, what matters most is keeping that connection. Ask God if there are one or two prayers that you might offer persistently over the next few weeks. Don't worry if you're not quite sure which ones, it may become clearer over time and you can always keep praying for all of them.

Alternatively a short daily bible study can be found here