Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Patience in Prayer

Although the little story at the beginning of today's installment of Our Daily Bread seems trite and unnecessary, the point is a good one.
Our prayers often revolve around asking God to hurry up and bless what we want to do. What if God’s answer to us is simply, “Be patient. Wait upon Me”? We can pray with David: “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).
Patience in prayer is difficult. (Really, patience in anything is difficult, isn't it?) And no matter how many times I have seen God work in me and in circumstances for which I've prayed for long periods of time, I still find patience in prayer difficult. God seems to need to teach me the same lessons repeatedly, including this one about waiting for Him and His timing and His will. Thankfully, He's more patient than I am!

By the way, I'm often asked by people, "What if I'm not certain that what I'm asking for in prayer is pleasing to God?" And, "When should I stop praying for something?" (In other words, "When should I accept that God has told me no and move on?")

In his book on prayer, Ole Hallesby gives great advice on the first question. If we're uncertain about the advisability of the thing for which we're praying, we should own our uncertainty and just tell God, in our own words and from the heart, "Grant this request only if it will bring You glory." God isn't a Ouija board we manipulate to get to where we want to go. He's not an ATM. To pray to the God we know in Jesus Christ is to submit to His will. But there is nothing wrong with asking...ever.

When I pray in this way, I also ask God to demonstrate so clearly that, if He is saying no to my request, even I can understand that I need to stop bringing that prayer to Him.

Until I have that clear sense, I don't stop praying. In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable, the purpose of which was, Luke says, to tell His followers, "...that they should always pray and not give up." 

When I pair this persistence in prayer with a persistent desire that God only answer the prayer positively if it will bring Him glory, I feel that I have God's permission to keep on praying.

And I do. 

Read the whole thing.

[Also: Check out Ole Hallesby's Prayer. ]

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