We live in a world of instant gratification: overnight shipping, movies on demand, and so much more. Instead of waiting to find out the answer to a question, I often pull out my phone and ask Siri or Google. Within about 25 seconds, I can find the answer to almost any question.
The desire for instant gratification can be dangerous and even fatal to the persistence God wants us to have in prayer.
Regarding prayer, Jesus said to keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Although there will be some prayers that God answers immediately, I believe there should be things we dedicate our lives to pray for that we may not see fulfilled in our lifetime. But we keep praying for them anyway.
James 5 uses Elijah as an example of faith-filled prayer, but it comes with a great reminder: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.” He wasn’t superhuman, and he didn’t have a special gene that enabled him to perform amazing feats of strength. Elijah was a dude. He had a wicked beard, and wore a leather belt (2 Kings 1). He got hungry, thirsty, sleepy, discouraged, and even suicidal (1 Kings 17-19). And yet, he understood the value of praying persistently.
On top of Mt. Carmel, after an amazing defeat against the prophets of Baal, and while King Ahab was feasting, Elijah began praying. 1 Kings 18 says that he put his head between his knees (interesting position!), and asked God to send rain. After praying for a while, he sent his servant to see if there were any clouds coming up over the sea. Why? Because he expected God to answer. When the servant didn’t see a cloud, he told Elijah, and Elijah went back to praying. Then he sent the servant again. Nothing. So Elijah kept praying. How long would you let that go on? Elijah did it seven times! It could’ve lasted minutes or hours, but it didn’t matter – Elijah wouldn’t give up.
I wonder if our prayer lives need the two words that Elijah repeatedly told his servant: “GO AGAIN.”
“I don’t see God answering that prayer right now.” GO AGAIN.
“I’ve been praying this for years and there’s no change.” GO AGAIN.
“God is probably tired of hearing me ask for this.” GO AGAIN.
“Maybe I’m wasting my time.” GO AGAIN.
Whatever your excuse is that is preventing you from persevering in prayer, my reply is that simple phrase: GO AGAIN. Don’t give up. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking. God is listening, and He wants to hear you ask. Keep at it.