Praying With Perseverance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 9, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

It is totally fitting that as I approach the topic of praying with perseverance that I had to deal with the issue. How often do we quit on our prayers too early? Do we have the strength and the fortitude to pray with perseverance? With endurance? With tenacity? I was doing well in my prayer life through this study coming up to about 2 ½ weeks ago, then I hit a wall… right about the time I spoke at a home school conference. I ran out of gas and I knew the problem. I had no prayer endurance. I had no ability to persevere in my praying.

In the early days of this journey a couple months ago, I recall telling the Lord in the shower one night that I would stay up all night in prayer if he needed me to. That night, nothing happened. The next night, God told me something that he has been ringing in the back of my mind the last few days: “When you are ready.” OUCH! That night I made it until midnight and I had to get to bed. And to be honest, I have not tried since. I still value my sleep too much.

In my praying, I have put aside my video games, other than a few quickies on my computer (Candy Crush and Solitaire) to make more time for praying and Bible study (I would often play for 1-3 hours many days when not dedicating free time to writing). But the last couple weeks have been rough. I get home from work exhausted and I end up vegging on the computer until 8:00pm, and even then trying to pray has become hard work. As I write this post, my prayer life has had occasional moments of strength and that “manly” stuff. But lately it has felt like nothing but flab and weak and pathetic. To be honest, the idea of “Is it worth it?” has crossed my mind numerous times. The temptation to get my games out again has returned. Those thoughts are not from God. Playing video games is not a sin, but for me, until this season of training comes to a close, it is. God told me to set them aside for the time being so I can focus on praying.

Praying is often not casual talk with God. It is often hard work. It is a spiritual battle not merely against the forces of darkness but primarily against the sinful flesh trying to retain control of your body and your mind. I hear stories of guys like John “Praying Hyde” Hyde who prayed so hard and earnestly that his heart literally shifted to the other side of his rib cage and he died in prayer. They prayed with extreme passion and perseverance and they tend to make me do a gut check. My prayer life has been nothing even similar to that.

I have been reading The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds and one of his books is on the praying saints of the Bible: Moses, Elijah, Samuel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul. While they all had problems, they all had prayer in common.

Elijah is one of the most noted examples of someone who prayed with perseverance. After his big showdown with Ahab and the prophets of Baal, Elijah prayed for rain. He stuck his head between his legs and groaned as one would preparing to give birth. It was hard work. He asked his servant if rain was coming and six times, the answer was no. How many of us would have given up by the third time? Elijah prayed a seventh time and the rain came. Let us not forget that Elijah was just a man like any of us. He is held as the greatest of all the prophets and yet he was just another man like us.

Jacob was another prayer warrior. He was a messed up man for most of his recorded life, but he was a man of prayer. The showdown came in Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestled all night with God. This is often depicted as a physical match, but in reality it was a battle of prayer. Jacob fought with God that night until he got was he was after. From that day forward, Jacob lived as the Godly patriarch he is praised to be.

Daniel had one of the longer recorded prayer sessions in Scripture. In Daniel 10, he has a vision of a man that so terrified him it made him pale. Daniel prayed for an interpretation right then and there, but it did not come for three weeks. He had to pray for three weeks to get an answer. What caused the delay? The angel delivering the message said he was sent immediately but was delayed by the Prince of Persia. Many times we have to pray like we are in battle and keep praying until it is won.

Eric Ludy, in his sermon “A Man of White Knuckles,” describes the life of Nehemiah, and how he was a man who did not allow for a moment the weariness of the world and the opposition from the enemy to slow him down. This quote from the 4:15-4:28 mark of the sermon got my attention when preparing this post: “If you ever feel that dimness [tiredness and weariness] and that cloud around your spiritual mind and your spiritual heart, you grip your sword harder and you refuse to relent until it leaves.” I did fencing for 15 years so this definitely rings true for me. Many times in my competitions, I would get tired and I would not have the fortitude to push through the tiredness and leave it all on the fencing strip. I did not know how to do that. For so many years of my life, I could go on and on and when I had enough, I was done. But I never knew how to push through.

One of David’s Mighty Men, Eleazar, fought for a field against the Philistines and fought so hard his hand claived to his sword. That means his hand locked onto it and the sword had to be pried from his hands because his grip was so tight. THAT is the kind of prayer God wants us to be praying. We are to keep going and going until victory is won.

I’ll be honest. I do not know how to pray like this. In the last several nights, I have told God straight up that I do not have the substance to pray the kind of prayers he is teaching me about in this season. I just do not have it. I do, however, know that Jesus has it. When I pray, I need to call upon his strength. I still need to set up that appointment with God to pray through the whole night. I recall Eric Ludy describing his need to do that in Wrestling Prayer and he only needed to do 3-4 nights of that (not in a row) in developing his prayer life. I know when I do it and I make it through that God will give me the strength for the next day. I do not want to intentionally plan it on a day when I do not have to do something the next day. That is the wrong motive.

To be able to pray through the entire night, or even to be able to pray through an entire day, one thing I will need to learn is how to pray through. How to pray when on empty. The day I prayed at my church a couple months ago in prepping to launch my new school year, this concept rang in my head and is worthy of its own post. Next week, I will address what God is teaching me on how to pray when on empty.

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