7th March 2013

Never Give Up

“Jesus told his disciples…that they should always pray and not give up.”
Luke 18:1 (NIV)

Immediately after teaching his disciples ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, Jesus went on to tell the story of a man who knocked on a friend’s door at midnight and asked if he could borrow three loaves of bread. His friend was already in bed and reluctant to get up, but the man at the door refused to leave until he got what he came for. Applying the moral of the story to the subject of prayer, Jesus said, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9). The meaning here is, ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking; bringing out the point Jesus was making about persistence in prayer.

It’s so easy to pray for a thing once or twice, and then to give up when nothing happens. It’s so easy to pray for a friend’s conversion for a month or two, and then to lose heart when they seem to show no interest in spiritual things. The point Jesus is making here is not that every prayer will be answered immediately and in the way we want, but rather there are many issues about which we will need to pray faithfully and for a long time before God appears to answer.

The important lesson to learn is that delay is not indifference; God is not ignoring us. His timing is perfect and we must learn to trust him even when we don’t understand why he allows certain situations to develop without apparently taking any action. When Lazarus, a personal friend of Jesus, fell ill, his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to him, but he deliberately delayed coming until four days after Lazarus had died. To everyone, that must have seemed like a complete refusal of the sisters’ request. But as we read through the story, culminating in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we discover that he delayed his coming for two reasons: “it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4), and “so that you may believe.” (verse15).

In hindsight, it’s easy to see that raising Lazarus from the dead made a much greater impact than healing his sickness would have done, but it’s not easy in our lives to remain faithful in prayer when the answer seems no nearer. The lesson for us is, don’t give up. God only delays his answers when it’s best to do so, when it’s for his glory and our good.

Father, help me to persist in prayer and to trust in your perfect timing.

Study by Barry Robinson

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