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God Answers Desperate, Persistent Prayer

Man on his face praying

I’m convicted. Convicted about my lack of persistence and travail in prayer.

It all came about through revisiting past blog posts here and compiling the post about David Brainerd.

If you teach Sunday school or serve Christ through serving others, I’m sure you’ve noticed that you receive more than you give. You’re the one who receives the blessing.

That’s what happened yesterday as I put together a fasting archive post and the post about David Brainerd and shared links to the posts on social media. In doing so, I re-visited the material. As I did, the Holy Spirit embedded truths in my spirit that confronted me upon waking today and as I entered my morning time of prayer.

I’m reading Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something by Ron Dunn (an author who has impacted me deeply, especially early in my illness through his incredible book When Heaven is Silent.) This book is no less insightful and helpful than his others.

As I lay in bed last night waiting to get drowsy, I read a chapter called “How Long?”. The Holy Spirit combined everything I read yesterday—from the posts here at Shades of Grace to Ron Dunn’s book—to speak a timely word and expose my prayerlessness. Oh I’m praying, but casually when compared to the picture of agonizing, wrestling, travailing in persistent, desperate prayer.

Here I am struggling over not getting to have hot chocolate or coffee (because of the fast) on the only day in several years that it actually snows … and I peer into a man’s life and see him praying until he’s all over “wet with sweat”—not just one day in his life; this agonizing marks his prayer life. It’s a way of life for him—disconnecting from the world through fasting and connecting to God through desperate, travailing prayer.

If I were praying like that on my fast, hot chocolate or coffee on a snow day would be the last thing on my mind!

A Moment of Candor

As I shared in another post, the past few years have been some of the most draining and wearying of my life—seemingly crushing me spiritually, physically, and mentally.

God made promises to me several years ago and since then, all means of fulfillment have entered a death sentence. (It mirrors the season of my severe illness when God promised restoration, but year after year things only grew worse and contradicted His promise.) Not only has the one area of life been affected, the subject of God’s promise, God has allowed seemingly every other area of my life to enter a death sentence. You would think it wouldn’t affect me—that having been through this exact process before, though the circumstances were different, I would be unfazed and remain steadfast in hope. But things are different enough, have persisted long enough, and affected me in such vulnerable areas that the enemy has used it to discourage me to the core. And it has affected my prayer life.

Someone reading this post is in the same situation—you feel like you’ve prayed till you’re blue in the face and the opposite of what you’re asking is taking place. Heaven seems silent. You find it hard to even pray anymore. You feel like the Psalmist in Psalm 42:

Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?” They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities, Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?” (vs 9-10)

Maybe you feel like God has let you down. So the enemy is using the tool of discouragement to whisper lies like, “Where is your God you said was so faithful?” Perhaps you’re allowing the devil to silence your prayers before they even form on your lips.

Beloved, I challenge you to not grow weary in well doing. I challenge you to rebuke the devil and persist in prayer.

We get discouraged because we’ve taken our eyes off of God. Do as the Psalmist did in the next verse and fix your eyes on God:

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” (Psalm 42:11, emphasis added)

Fix your eyes on your faithful, loving, mighty, covenant-keeping God! And persist in secret, desperate prayer!! Why? Because …

God Answers Desperate Prayer

In The Gospel of Prayer, Leonard Ravenhill says:

I Samuel 1:1-15 gives an account of the yearly trip Elkanah and his wife, Hannah, made to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord. During this time, Hannah had been distressed that she was not able to bear a son for her husband. This passage of Scripture gives quite a descriptive account of her time in prayer concerning the barrenness of her womb. It says that Hannah wept. More than this, she wept until she was sore. She poured out her soul before the Lord. Her heart was grieving; she was bitter of soul, provoked, and of a sorrowful spirit.

Now that’s a pretty good list of afflictions—sorrow, hardship, and everything else that came upon this woman. But the key to the whole situation is that she was a praying woman. In verse 20 it says that she reaped her reward. “And it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord.’”

Now I say very often—and people don’t like it—that God doesn’t answer prayer. He answers desperate prayer! Your prayer life denotes how much you depend on your own ability, and how much you really believe in your heart when you sing, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling….” The more self- confidence you have, the less you pray. The less self-confidence you have, the more you have to pray.

What does the Scripture say? It says that God takes the lowly, the things that are not. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:28 that God takes the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, so that no flesh should glory in His presence. We need a bunch of “are nots” today.

God Answers Persistent Prayer

In Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something, Ron Dunn writes:

Some say it is a lack of faith to ask more than once for the same thing, an act of unbelief that voids our prayer. The argument runs something like this: At four o’clock a boy asks his father to take him to the ball park the next day; the father says yes, he will. At five o’clock the boy asks again, and the father again says that he will. At six o’clock the boy asks again, and again at seven o’clock, and again at eight. Why does the boy keep asking? Obviously, he doesn’t believe his father. And this certainly grieves the father. Thus, if we really have faith, we need ask only once.

I admit this sounds reasonable (and it may have some merit) but I don’t think it’s scriptural. Jesus believed in persistence. He gave us only two parables about prayer, and the emphasis in both is on persistence (the friend at midnight, Luke 11, and the woman and the judge, Luke 18.) In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus tells us to ask, to seek, and to knock. The tenses of the verbs say ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. So we need to ask and keep on asking until we receive, or… [1]

Dunn then continues to list the other conditions under which we stop asking. We ask until:

1. We receive the answer.

2. Until we have the assurance that we will receive it.

3. Until God says no.

I needed the reminder that of the only two parables Jesus gave about prayer, the emphasis in both is on persistence.

Did you need that reminder, too? If so, I encourage you to get your Bible and read those parables in Luke 11 and Luke 18. Hear Jesus speaking them as if He’s talking to you one-on-one.

Whatever your cause for fasting, whatever your burdens and needs are, persist in prayer. Don’t hesitate to pray desperately—to wrestle and agonize in prayer.

An Example: David Brainerd

David Brainerd’s prayer life is an example of desperate, persistent prayer. The following are two entries from his diary:

“Monday, April 19. I set apart this day for fasting, and prayer to God for his grace… Accordingly, in the morning, I endeavoured to plead for the divine presence for the day, and not without some life. In the forenoon, I felt the power of intercession for precious, immortal souls; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Saviour in the word; and withal, a most sweet resignation, and even consolation and joy in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it; and had special enlargement in pleading for the enlightening and conversion of the poor heathen. In the afternoon, God was with me of a truth. O it was blessed company indeed! God enabled me so to agonize in prayer, that I was quite wet with perspiration, though in the shade, and the cool wind. My soul was drawn out very much for the world; for multitudes of souls. I think I had more enlargement for sinners, than for the children of God; though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both. I enjoyed great sweetness in communion with my dear Saviour. I think I never in my life felt such an entire weanedness from this world, and so much resigned to God in every thing.–O that I may always live to and upon my blessed God! Amen, Amen.” [2]

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“Monday, June 14. Felt something of the sweetness of communion with God, and the constraining force of his love: how admirably it captivates the soul, and makes all the desires and affections to centre in God!—I set apart this day for secret fasting and prayer … Had little life and power in the forenoon: near the middle of the afternoon, God enabled me to wrestle ardently in intercession for absent friends:—but just at night, the Lord visited me marvellously in prayer: I think my soul never was in such an agony before. I felt no restraint; for the treasures of divine grace were opened to me. I wrestled for absent friends, for the ingathering of souls, for multitudes of poor souls, and for many that I thought were the children of God, personally, in many distant places. I was in such an agony, from sun half an hour high, till near dark, that I was all over wet with sweat; but yet it seemed to me that I had wasted away the day, and had done nothing. Oh, my dear Jesus did sweat blood for poor souls! I longed for more compassion towards them.—Felt still in a sweet frame, under a sense of divine love and grace; and went to bed in such a frame, with my heart set on God.” [3]

Questions:

  • Are you discouraged in prayer?
  • Are you praying, while also depending on your own ability? Or are you travailing in desperate prayer, depending on God’s ability alone?
  • Are you persisting in prayer, like the the friend at midnight (Luke 11) or the woman and the judge (Luke 18)?

FROM THE ARCHIVES

RELATED POSTS ON PRAYER

RELATED POSTS: FIXING YOUR EYES ON GOD

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  1. Ron Dunn, Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992), 208-209
  2. Brainerd, David; Edwards, Jonathan (2013-06-04). The Life and Diary of David Brainerd with Notes and Reflections by Jonathan Edwards (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 742-756). Kindle Edition.
  3. Ibid., 932-946

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6 Responses to “God Answers Desperate, Persistent Prayer”

  1. Rose says:

    I was falsely accused of DWI when a trooper wrongfully went into my purse and found my medication legally prescribed. He lied despicably on the discovery. The tape clearly shows I am perfect, but my lawyer said the corrupt prosecutor refuses to drop the charges because "it will make the police look bad and open them to a lawsuit." PLEASE PRAY FOR GOD'S HAND TO MOVE AND EXPOSE THEIR CORRUPTION

  2. Lost Princess says:

    I don't know how desperate God would want me to get..I am tired now and do not have the strength to pray.. I do not want to give up on prayer… But it's getting really hard.. Please pray for me

  3. Dave Moore says:

    It is a tremendous help to have family and friends to pray with you. My son has recently been dealing with headaches. He had been going through Ct scans, M.R.I's, etc. On Christmas Eve eve, he got a call to get to the emergency room immediately, they had found a blood clot on his brain in his most recent test(deep vain CT scan). I was stunned and unable to voice a word. My in-laws were all at my house for Christmas and immediately began laying on hands and praying. We were in the ER many hours but he was sent home and is doing well now. Thank you Jesus for a praying family, friends, and church.

  4. Misty Gayle Bonnette says:

    Ive been falsely accused myself above and below many levels of – i miss my kids. Always after their born the mad man takes them from me and gives them over to another mad man- how does this form a beautifully made world' im not getting better at anything' same person just about as i always had been' i need to do soo much but doing so little causes what the worlds like and does. I needed my people to support me and guide me right without feeling more loss and broken. I need the help and support, plz im begging

  5. Val says:

    I've prayed for years. I've been on the floor, pleading with God, crying till I thought my heart would break. My prayer would be easy for God to answer. I'm not asking for a miracle or anything selfish or self-serving. All I pray for is a friend. I've been alone for years, and it's been hard without any friends or family (all are gone or passed away). I've become independent and strong in many ways, but there are times when I really need someone. I don't even have an emergency contact for medical emergencies. I go out to meet people every chance I get, but nothing has worked. Why would God say "no" to me for years, time and time again?

    • Thia says:

      Hey Val!
      I don’t know if you’re still looking for a friend, but it’s worth a try. I’ll be your friend! I would love to, if you let me.
      Hope to hear from you soon, so we can start this new path of friendship.

      Cheers.

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