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Thursday, September 11, 2008

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Pray Until Something Happens

Probably most of us are familiar with the little silicone bracelets that have become popular in the last several years.  Some of the first ones simply had the letters W.W.J.D. on them and were to remind us to think in every situation, "what would Jesus do?"  I saw a good variation on this D.W.J.W. don't simply ask what Jesus would do, "do what Jesus would!"  I saw ones that said F.R.O.G. "fully rely on God" and I had one recently, until it broke, that said "Faith Power."  I liked wearing it because it reminded me of what I am trying to live out.  One of the others I saw had the letters P.U.S.H. and stood for "pray until something happens."  That is something that all of our faith needs, to be backed up by prayer until the thing we are believing for happens.

Real faith does not give up.  And prayer should always be faith's partner in persistence.  There is a great scripture passage in Luke's gospel that teaches exactly this, in fact we read that, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1).  It is about a persistent widow, and Jesus tells the story:

"In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'  For some time he refused.  But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' " (Luke 18:2-5).

This was not a fair or a just or a nice judge.  He couldn't have cared less about God or anyone but himself.  And normally, he would have been totally unhelpful to anyone.  He wasn't about to do anything, either because of his faith in God of which he had none, or his concern for the rest of humanity which was also lacking in him.  His attitude was basically leave me alone and call someone who cares.  But the widow persisted, regardless of the response she got.  And she wore him out.  She demonstrated that she was willing to go further to get what she wanted than the judge was willing to go in denying her.  And she won!  Jesus says, "listen to what the unjust says" (Luke 18:6).  What does he say?  That in spite of his own decision to do nothing for her, he would act on her behalf so that he would not have to deal with her any more.  She wore him out with her coming and she would have worn him out some more if she had needed to.  According to Jesus, this is how we are to pray.  Pray until something happens.  Always pray and do not give up.

Is this kind of prayer easy?  I think not.  That is why so few do it.  What if the widow had given up after a day or a few days?  Would she have seen anything?  Are there things that we have not seen that we have not seen because we prayed but not long enough?  Jesus says that we "should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1).  Jesus concludes his story by saying,

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly" (Luke 18:7-8).

Jesus says that we should pray and never give up, and even more so because our God is not like the judge in the story.  He will answer those who cry out to him with this kind of persistence.  He will not put you off.  He will give us our requests and he will even do it quickly!  Does he simply want to know how bad we want it?  Is it important for our own well-being to have to pray until something happens and not give up?  What is the purpose of making us persist in prayer?  Jesus asks, finally,

"However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).

Do you know that making us wait for the answer does absolutely nothing for God.  He wants to answer us quickly and, he knows what we need before we ask and sometimes even answers before we ask!  Making the answer wait is for our benefit and our benefit alone!  Are we willing to see it that way?  We should always pray and not give up so that our faith grows and becomes real.  That is Jesus concern.  He wants us to be people of faith, not just have everything we ask for when we ask for it.

So pray until something happens.  And don't quit until it does.  Then find something else to pray for.  And then, when he comes and you and I stand before him some day, he will find that through our persistence in praying, we have become people of faith.

Read the Faith Encouragement story entitled "P U S H"

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