One day the disciples asked Jesus how to pray—which is hilarious when you think about it: they were talking with Jesus (aka God) asking him, ‘How should we talk with you?’
Remarkably, Jesus gives them the lay of land, a characteristic of How Things Work.
Here’s how it works, fellas: be stubborn, mule-headed and unstoppable in pursuing what you want. Be SHAMELESSLY PERSISTENT.
Jesus tell this story about a guy who has guests arrive at midnight; he has nothing for them to eat (good planning, Jethro), so he hounds his next door neighbor to mooch some grub.
The neighbor says, “No, go away, I’m in bed.” Jesus says “But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. -Luke 11:8
Who’d a thunk? I’ve heard many church-goers talk about God ‘opening some doors and closing others’, as if he’s a doorman, but don’t recall anyone saying, ‘Have you tried knocking the hell out of it till the door breaks down?’
Anomaly? Nope. Just a few chapters later, Jesus tells “a story to show that you should always pray and never give up.” Luke 18:1
Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you.”
Oh really? What about all those unanswered prayers?
There are no unanswered prayers.
There may be an ‘element of time’ before you get your answer.
There may be an ‘element of maturity’ requisite for the yes, wherein God, good Father that he is, says first you must muster a measure of maturity only attainable thru trials. “…for the testing of your faith develops perseverance, which must finish the job so you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
And…there may be an element of ‘no’.
Wait: is he saying he WANTS us to ask ceaselessly for something to which the answer is no??
Dads, which makes you prouder?
-the child who asks expecting a yes, with cheerful shiny eyes—and to which you must, at least for the time being, say no to the child for their own good; and your child accepts the no in loving full trust of your goodness…yet smiling persists in desire.
-or the child who, moping, half-mumbles a request while muttering ‘I know you’re gonna say No, cause you’re mean, nasty, grumpy and cheap…’
My wife, daughter Mel, and I went to a weekend conference on Healthy Living. They were doing raffles, the grand prize was a huge ‘grounded’ leather chair. Mel sat in it, loved it, and immediately began praying for it and ‘claiming’ it, thanking God in advance for the chair. ‘God is going to give this to me’, she said. She spent prayer moments in her prayer journal writing the same. Asking, praying, believing.
I watched this, wondering…a bit preposterous? Presumptuous? Theologically unsound? Materialistic? Not to mention unlikely: over 2,000 attendees with multiple raffle tickets—and to boot, she won several drawings through the weekend!
At the end of the conference, four tickets drawn. One’s was Mel!!
Up on stage, four contestants for one grand prize.
The emcee said, “Let’s do a dance contest, audience will judge the winner by applause.”
…did I mention Mel is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher?
Music on, and predictably, Mel was blazing glory while the other three contestants looked like they were swatting flies. Audience vote by applause, the first two got golf claps, Mel got raucous endorsement—….and inexplicably, the fourth contestant got an even louder round of applause! Number four won the chair, daughter Mel lost the raffle.
Now I was emotionally involved—hurt, stunned, sputtering mad. That was HER chair! She was robbed! God, how could you do this???
(Remember: Mel had done the ASKING, she had stepped out in faith, and asked in Shameless Persistence; while I merely observed from the shadowy sidelines, pale and uncertain, making no request, wondering whether what she asked for was ‘the right thing to do…)
After a bit, we calmed down, began praying, drew close to God, and here’s what we all felt he said:
“Mel, I’m so proud of your faith! You’re my daughter and I LOVE you so much that I demonstrated it to you tonight by putting you up on stage, against all odds, in a position of incontrovertible VICTORY: a dance contest!! Proof enough! But darling daughter, I have other plans for that chair…and we both know: if you want that chair badly enough, you can earn the money to buy one.”
Turns out the person who won the chair is a therapist. She will be using the chair in her practice.
Did Mel get the chair? no.
Did Mel get the sense that God Loves her? Not instantaneously, but ultimately,Yes.
…perhaps more thrilling was that God got the sense that Mel loves HIM!
Q: How can you be sure you’re supposed to persist?
A: Assuming it’s a good thing you’re going for: Put your confidence in God’s grace.
"Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.’ -1 Peter 1:13, NIV
Q: Is there ever a time you should quit?
A: Yes: When GOD (not your fears, not your discouragement, not your insecurity) tells you to quit.
Q: …but I don’t hear from God.
A: You’re not close enough. Get closer!
If you are studying scripture, writing in a prayer journal, and you still don’t hear from God, do this:
Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking—and KEEP GOING!!
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”-Luke 11:13
It boils down to an issue of the heart. Are you craving a good thing, a right thing?
Then Go for It!
Do not be weary in well-doing.
Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep going.
Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Pursue your cause with SHAMELESS PERSISTENCE.