THURSDAY — OUR WORLD
We have been discussing the ABCs of prayer the last two days. Monday we learned that “A” stands for “Abiding”, yesterday we discusses “B” which stands for “Believe”. Today let’s consider “C”, which stands for “Continue”. Originally, I told you that the “C” stands for “Continue to pray, but my goal is to encourage you to continue period.
- I want you to continue to participate
- Continue to pray
- Continue to abide
- Continue to fast
- Continue to believe
Two other words that describe our teaching focus for today are perseverance and persistence. I have a sweet friend, who says some funny things at times that we are not quick to let her live down. A few years back, we were attending a prayer conference, and we went to Red Lobster during their annual “Endless Shrimp” campaign. When the server came to take our order, she said, “I will take the keep it coming shrimp please”. We all burst into laughter! I had to share this story because I believe it is a humorous way for you to never forget to “Keep it coming”! Just think of it this way…God is saying to you:
- Keep your prayers coming
- Keep your praise coming
- Keep your devotion coming
- Keep your petitions coming
- And so on….
A familiar passage is found in the second part of verse 16 in James chapter 5.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16b NKJV).
I love the way that passage reads in the Amplified Bible.
The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
When we continue to pray, we stick with it all the way until the end. That means when God puts a person or a situation on your heart, you continue to pray about that until the prayer is totally answered or until the burden lifts and you sense victory.
Sometimes we see answers to prayer quickly and sometimes we have to continue to pray. In the passage that I shared above from James 5, if you continue to read it says:
James 5:17-18 NKJV
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
If you go back and read this account about Elijah in 1 Kings 18, he went to the top of Mount Carmel and knelt down to pray for rain. He sent his servant Ahab to go look toward the sea to see if rain was coming. When he came back and reported that there was nothing, Elijah kept praying and sent him back again, in fact he sent him back again seven times!
After the seventh time, Ahab reported to Elijah, “I see a cloud as small as a man’s hand coming up from the sea!” (1 Kings 18:41-44) Elijah prayed and he continued to pray until he saw victory. James uses this example and says about it, “The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]”(James 5:16b AMP).
As you likely know, during Jesus’ earthly ministry, He liked to teach using parables. Depending on which version of the Bible you are looking at the one found in Luke 18 is often called either the “Parable of the Persistent Widow”, or “The Parable on Prayer”. I want to share it with you.
Luke 18:1-8 NLT
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'” 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Perseverance is important, but it is a word we don’t always like, because if you are to persevere, you must need to push through some kind of difficulty, opposition, or delay. Perseverance often makes me think of endurance, which gives me a picture of a long distance runner.
I have never enjoyed running. When I was in high school, I was on the track team for all the wrong reasons. I liked to do the jumps or maybe the short races or relays, but I certainly wasn’t committed enough to be the one who ran the long distance races. Those races required too much perseverance. The ability to push through the pain and fatigue when you feel like your lungs are on fire and your legs cannot move another step.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This passage describes our spiritual race during times that require perseverance. We are reminded to keep our eyes on Jesus since He demonstrated for us not only how to start a race, but how to finish it!
In the middle of the race, there are times you feel all alone and you may be tempted to question if you are in the right race. We sometimes feel this way when we are in the middle of a situation in which we have been praying and believing for victory and we have not seen an answer yet.
Perseverance is needed when God SEEMS to be absent and SEEMS to be silent! Scripture tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). This is when we stand on the Word of God. A very familiar scripture found in Galatians 6:9 AMP reads:
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”
Let me tell you two of the greatest enemies in certain stages of the race is doubt and disappointment. When you are in a season where you have been believing and standing in faith for a long time, and your answer has not yet manifested, it is tempting to begin to question if you really heard from God, or if this commitment to the race or to prayer is really worth it.
In some situations, the risk of disappointment is so great that people give into hopelessness instead of standing in faith and staying in the race. In these times, you must contend and persevere! You have to “Keep it coming”!
I want to encourage you today to “Continue”!
- Pray for the unreached.
- Pray for missionaries throughout the world.
- Pray that more people would hear God’s call to missions.
Mark 16:15-16 NKJV: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’”
Matthew 18:12-14 NLT: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
Luke 19:10 NKJV: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
John 4:34-37 NLT: “Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true.
Matthew 9:37-38 NLT: “He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
2 Peter 3:9 NKJV: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Matthew 24:14 NLT: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”