Persistent Prayer

July 28, 2019


My nephew Leif has always been one of the most persistent people that I know.  I remember when he was a little boy, and I would visit his family for the weekend. I might be sitting at the table finishing up breakfast over coffee with my brother and Leif would come up to the table to ask a question.  Interrupting our conversation, as little boys do, and never giving up in his quest for the full answer to whatever question was filling his mind at that moment. Many minutes later after asking a string of numerous questions about a subject, he would finally be satisfied with the answers he had received and return to his play.

Over the years as he has grown older though he has matured in his approach to a question, his persistence hasn’t lessened, but rather if anything it has strengthened.  When he wants to know about a subject the questions he asks have become very in-depth and detailed, yet in the asking he is always persistent and dogged in finding the answer.

In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus tells us that we too are to be persistent in our conversations, in our prayers with God.  Jesus’ story of the bothersome friend asking for bread to set before his guest makes that very point.  As the Contemporary English Version puts it, “He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend.  But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.”

In this passage from Luke Jesus says, “Ask and you will receive, Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.”

God wants us to come to him for all of our needs, as well as our desires.  Jesus tells us to question him when we are seeking answers to the many, and often difficult questions that fill our lives and we are told to knock when we are wanting the attention, the company of the Lord, and the door will be opened, inviting us into God’s presence.

Jesus outlines for the disciples, and for us how to pray in what we call, ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’  But he doesn’t want us to stop there, rather he wants us to talk to him, to pray to him concerning everything, and anything in our lives.

Too often we go to God in prayer hoping to simply meet our needs, or our desires.  At times we approach him out of guilt or shame, after sinning in a way that has really hurt someone else or ourselves, and these are all good reasons and proper times to pray to the Lord.  Yet it is when we talk to Jesus concerning our decisions and actions, and our hopes and our dreams that we have entered a new realm in our prayer lives.  At this point we are starting to truly live out our relationship with God, by including the Lord in the details of our daily lives.  We are then, truly seeking to walk with Jesus, and let him help us through our days.

It is then, that we find ourselves contemplating what our faith in Christ has to say about the small decisions of life, the decisions that in reality chart the course of our lives.  For isn’t it the daily decisions, often even more than the major decisions that form who we are and how we live our lives.

Back when Emily and I were ‘just friends,’ I gave her a refrigerator magnet for her twenty-fifth birthday (I’ll never get off with that cheap of a birthday gift again!)  Now I don’t normally give magnets as birthday gifts, but the two of us had been talking about the life decisions that were looming ahead for each of us, and when I saw the quote on this magnet I had to give it to her.  It was a quote from Annie Dillard, and it read, “How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.”

It is a magnet that has been on every refrigerator that we have used, and I pulled it off of the one at the parsonage to show you this morning.  It is nothing fancy, but its message is powerful.

How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.  Do we spend part of our days in persistent conversation with God concerning the small things, as well as the big things of life?  Or do we forget about God in the day-to-day, and only return to him in the crisis moments of life?

Do we walk as closely with Jesus in the day-to-day as his first disciples did, or do we just appear on the side of the road asking for a miracle, and then go away again, like so many people did?  Receiving what they needed and then going on their way.

Peter and Andrew, James and John, Nathanael, Matthew and the other of Jesus’ disciples all spent time with him every day, often asking the persistent questions that led to new understanding, and the answers from the Lord that they were seeking.

As a side note, not all of your questions even need to be good ones, or proper ones.  Remember how James and John asked the self-centered, egotistical question to sit at Jesus’ side in paradise?  That wasn’t a great question, but they did receive a great answer.  As they also received upon asking if Jesus wanted them to call down lightning upon the village which would not welcome Jesus and the disciples while traveling through Samaria.  If you’re close enough to the Lord to ask all questions, then your bad ideas can be questioned along with your good ones, and perhaps then those bad ideas will only be a question and not a poor course of action.

Talk and walk with Jesus, be persistent, that’s the relationship that Jesus seeks with you for your life, and with me for mine.  Let me tell you, there isn’t anything boring about asking for God’s guidance, for God’s wisdom, for God’s crazy and wonderful ideas for our lives.  No, rather a life spent sharing the details with God, is an adventurous one, as well as a fulfilling one.

Jesus came to earth, to give us new life out of the ashes of our sinful human ways, but that life doesn’t’ begin when we die, but rather is ours to be lived right now.  God wants us to experience his love, know his forgiveness, listen to his wisdom and follow his guidance for our lives right now.

He is here to share your ups and downs, your joys and sorrows, your laughs and tears, and he is here to help you live your life to the utmost.  So I simply say, “Ask and the Lord will give, seek and the Lord will provide answers, knock and the Lord will open the door and invite you into loving relationship, day-after-day.”

Remember, “How we spend our days, is how we spend our lives.”

Spend your days walking with the Lord, asking, seeking and knocking, and then listen…and live!


Bible References

  • Colossians 2:6 - 15
  • Luke 11:1 - 13



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