Recently I received an email from someone who had all but given up. He said he had been praying for nine years for the conversion of some members of his family and nothing had happened. They still had not come to the Lord and the essence of his note was, why bother praying when the Lord had not answered the prayer.
There was a lot more in the note, but this was one of the key issues. My response was the need for persistence in prayer. Sometimes we need to persist and continue to come to the Lord with our issues and concerns, especially where it relates to other people.
Every person has a choice and can choose to accept or reject the Lord. He does not force anyone to be a Christian so it can take a long time to see the results of prayers for other people.
The Lord does and will answer prayers, but he does it in His timeframe. Recall the situation of Abraham who was told that he would become the father of many nations and the promised son would be born through his wife Sarah. At the time this promise was made Abraham was about ninety years of age, Sarah was about eighty years old, she had passed through menopause and had been barren and unable to bear children.
But Abraham believed God was able to do anything (a good reminder for all of us), and did not count any of those issues as being insurmountable for God.
However the promised child was not born for another ten years after the promise was made. God works in his time, not ours and like Abraham we need to remember that God is able to do anything but he will do it when and how he chooses, which will always be the best timing and result.
Pray Constantly and Never, Ever Give Up
So when we pray for anything, if we don’t get the answer we should not stop praying. We should continue to bring the issue to the Lord fully convinced that he will give us the answer.
Just as the man in this section of scripture continued coming to his neighbour with shameless persistence, and eventually received what he was seeking.
What we need to learn from this section is to never, ever give up. God is good and he will answer your prayers. You also must understand that sometimes his answer is to say “No.” But when that happens it is the best answer and we may not understand why at the time.
Let me give a personal example of this. Some years ago I applied for a role in the company I worked for. I was the best candidate for the job, which everyone including the interviewer agreed was the case, and yet I did not get the job. I had prayed about it and asked the Lord why he said “No.”
Several years later I found out why. The company was restructured and that role I had applied for was made redundant and I would have been out of a job. Instead I took a different path and actually ended up with a better role with the company.
The Lord knew better. He knows the end from the beginning and he knew the best path for me. So when he says “No” now I don’t worry because I know that his plans and his results are better than the things I can see.
But we need to be persistent in our prayers so that the Lord knows we mean what we are asking for and then he will give us the best answer and the best result. But like Abraham, it might take a while but the result is always going to be magnificent.