Prevailing Prayer

"As a physician, I have seen men, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer" (Alexis Carrel 1873–1944).

How often do we feel that we have failed or that in some way we are inadequate because our prayers are not answered? We may be praying for a personal situation or perhaps for the health of a friend or loved one, and that prayer has not been answered. If we cease to pray because it has not been answered then we cease to pray in faith. Those who pray in faith must believe that the answer to that prayer is now much closer. The lessons and examples of Jesus tell us that prayer which does not persevere and display its urgency, renewing itself time and time again, gathering strength and purpose, is not the prayer that will prevail.

George Muller, a man of profound faith, needed a large sum of money to build an orphanage. He prayed for eleven hundred and ninety-five days, and day by day Muller continued to bring this matter before God. Without one moment's doubt, or misgiving, or wavering, he was enabled to trust in God for the means. From the beginning, after he had ascertained the will of God concerning this work, he was assured that He would bring it about. A prayer that prevailed.

Elkanah's wife, Hannah, was unable to have children and suffered frequent provocation from other women. For years Hannah wept and prayed to the Lord to give her a son. Deeply troubled, she approached Eli the priest and prayed before him. Eli blessed her and asked that the God of Israel would grant her hearts desire. In the course of time Hannah's prevailing prayer was answered and she gave birth to a son she named Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-20).

In the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8) the judge saw that she received justice simply to stop the woman bothering him. Justice for the wrong reason perhaps, but nevertheless an answer to the woman's earnest plea. We must continue believing, continue praying, continue doing His will in our everyday life. John B. Coburn said: "Be yourself. Be natural before God. Do not pretend to emotions you do not feel. Tell him whatever is on your heart and mind with whatever words are most natural to you. You do not have to speak to him in “religious” language about “spiritual” matters only . . . Speak as naturally and as easily as you would to a friend, since God is just that. . . . This natural expression of yourself at the outset is the guarantee that you can go on to a creative, free, and mature relationship with God."

I find Coburn's words comforting and reassuring. Be yourself, for that is how God made you. Speak your mind, for that is the mind God endowed you with for a purpose. Do not try to be what you are not or express emotions and thoughts that are not of you. Simple prayer does not waste words but becomes an earnest plea to the throne room of Grace, and as it gathers strength and purpose it becomes a prayer that will prevail. From my own experience, I know that to be true.

Every Christian needs a half hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour. St. Francis de Sales (1567–1622).

Pastor Ron Clarke [email protected]

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