There are times when we pray about something maybe once, perhaps twice, even three times, and if we don’t receive an answer in the affirmative, then we give up and assume that it must not be God’s will.
But Jesus taught His disciples “that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 niv).
We need to understand that when we pray, a spiritual battle is raging behind the scenes. In the Book of Daniel, we find an interesting story in which Daniel offered his request before God and the answer finally came. An angel appeared to him and said,
“Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me...” (Daniel 10:12–13 nlt).
It may be that you have asked God for something in your life that He wants to do. Just because it has not happened yet does not mean that it will never happen. God’s delays are not necessarily His denials.
Clearly, there are some prayers the devil will oppose more than others. For example, when you pray for someone’s salvation, you need to know that it is a spiritual battle. The last thing the devil wants to do is to release one of his captives.
In April 2003, U.S. military forces undertook a courageous operation to rescue Jessica Lynch, a soldier whose unit had been ambushed and captured during the Iraqi invasion. These soldiers risked their lives to save this prisoner of war and recover the bodies of eight other American soldiers.
In the same way, the devil has prisoners of war. And the only way people can be freed from spiritual bondage is when the power of Satan is bound. That is why, when we pray for a person’s salvation, we need to pray that God will open his or her eyes so they will see their need for Jesus Christ. We can’t give up.
One of the classic stories of persistent prayer is that of the Syro-Phoenician woman, a non-Jew who came to Jesus and asked Him to touch her demon-possessed daughter and deliver her. Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26).
But instead of taking offense, she replied, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (verse 27).
Jesus was so impressed with her response that He said, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire” (verse 28). The Bible says her daughter was healed from that very hour.
What do we learn from this story? Jesus was not putting up barriers to keep her away, but to draw her closer — barriers that genuine, persistent faith could hurdle. Her faith was so great that even a tiny leftover of Jesus’ power, in her estimation, would be enough to deliver her daughter.
Jesus urges us to be persistent in our prayers: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). If you were to directly translate these very familiar words of Jesus, it would sound something like this: “Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking....”
Jesus also said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). This reminds us of the intimacy and fellowship we have with God.
Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). When we bring our requests before God, we need to remember that we are speaking to our Father.You see, it is His will to give you the things that you need in your life. Maybe you have been praying about something and there has not been an answer. Maybe there has been an interruption. Remember this: sometimes, an interruption is actually the intervention of God. Disappointment can be His appointment. So don’t give up.
What does Esther have in common with Rahab? Or Ruth with Tamar? They seem like diametrically opposed personalities. Shannon Bream gives insightful answers to those questions in her new book. We will mail you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Harvest Ministries today!