The Importance of Being Persistent in Prayer During Hard Times

Being persistent in prayer during hard times can sometimes feel like nagging god. But I assure you it isn’t.

Have you ever wondered if God gets tired of hearing the same prayers from you over and over again? I hear this as a common struggle inside our community. Ladies feel like God must hate the fact that they are constantly coming to Him with the same thing. 

I have been in a situation where I had the same question and the same struggle. Today, we are going to take a look at what Scripture has to say about being persistent in prayer.

She wanted justice. Nothing extraordinary or unreasonable. She had been wronged and she just wanted it to be made right. So she went to the person in charge and asked for his help.

There was just one problem: he refused to help her.

So she asked again.

He continued to refuse to hear her out. He wouldn’t take any steps to do what was right. He was heartless and he didn’t care about the people he was supposed to look after. He had no respect for God either.

But she kept asking.

Finally, the man got so sick of hearing from this woman that he gave in and finally gave her the justice she sought. He finally did the right thing.

Can you relate to her struggle?

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I’m not talking about myself, but I have been that woman. I have been wronged and went to all the right people to ask for help and been refused. I’ve gone to my church with my concerns about abuse that I was facing in the past and they didn’t want to hear anything that I had to say. 

In fact, that particular church continues to embrace the man who was being abusive towards me and my children. That really hurt. I went to the police to help, but there was nothing that they could do. The court system was not helpful at all because of the way it’s setup. 

Dealing with a manipulative person made it worse because they fool people. Even my lawyer at the time seemed to be under that spell. It was really, really frightening and I felt all alone because everywhere I turned I had a door slammed in my face. 

After a while, I realized that I’d been knocking on the wrong doors and that what I needed to do was to appeal to the real judge, the real person in charge of my situation, and that was God. 

Scripture about Being Persistent in Prayer

The parable of the persistent widow is who I was talking about at the beginning of this. She is a great lesson in being persistent in prayer. Jesus uses this parable to encourage his followers to never give up in prayer. 

This is a passage that I found so encouraging during that time in my life, and it continues to encourage me when I’m facing something hard. When things don’t seem to want to change or to get any better. 

Let’s turn to the bible to read Luke 18:1-8 (NLT):

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

The whole reason that Jesus tells this parable is to show everybody within earshot to always pray and never give up. Sometimes we tend to view God as this unjust judge, this person who doesn’t care about justice, and who isn’t interested in being helpful to people. 

You begin to feel guilt or shame when you feel like you’re asking him the same thing over and over again. You may think God isn’t listening or maybe he’s just not going to answer. This has a lot to do with the way that you view God. 

If your view of God is that he is an unjust judge, like in this parable, then of course you’re going to believe he’s not listening or he’s not going to answer because because he doesn’t care about you. The truth is the complete opposite, right? 

God loves each and every one of us. You are his creation, his child, he loves you and promises that he hears your prayers. He promises to answer and to be with you no matter what you are going through. 

You probably know that in your head, but when things are really hard, it can be hard to keep that truth in your heart. It’s difficult to keep that your focus instead of giving into how you feel about the length of time it’s taking between your prayers and God’s answer. 

You may also fall into thinking that you just don’t want to bother, and I get that. I think of the woman in this parable who continues to go back over and over. I’ve been in that situation where I’ve gone to God weary because I’d been praying about something for years, and now it’s been a decade or two decades. 

You get weary from praying, from just doing life, in waiting on God’s answer, or from waiting for the manifestation of what God’s answer is. Sometimes God tells you what he’s going to do, and it’s just a long time between when he speaks the word and when it actually happens. 

This is another reason why you start to feel like you need to stop praying, it’s not working, you don’t want to bother God anymore because you already tried and it’s clearly just not happening and you’re exhausted. 

You want to save yourself the heartache and trouble so you decide that you’re not going to even pray about it anymore. Listen, nowhere in scripture does God say when you get tired go ahead, give up, and quit. He constantly encourages you in his word to persevere and endure, to keep at it until you get to the thing that you seek. 

Another obstacle that happens when you’re praying about something for a long time is that you are either taught or convinced yourself that asking God for the same over and over demonstrates a lack of faith. That’s not true. 

I heard this a lot growing up. People would be shamed when they shared that they’d been praying for something for X amount of time. The thinking was if you’d already asked God, you know he’s going to do it, why are you continuing to bother him with that request? 

The fact that you feel like you need to keep asking him the same thing over and over for reassurance does not demonstrate a lack of faith. It demonstrates the exact opposite. 

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Persistent Prayers Show Dependence on God

Why is it important to be persistent in prayer? Number one, it shows dependence and trust in God. The reason that you keep going to him over and over and over is because you know that he is the one with the answers. 

He is the one who can do something about whatever it is that’s on your heart. You’re going to him because you know that you can’t do anything, you can’t fix it. You’re not going to be able to survive through that thing without him. It shows complete dependence and trust in God, which is exactly where God wants you to be. 

Does that mean it’s easy to be persistent in prayer? Nope, not at all. I said before, you get tired and you get weary. You might have moments or seasons where you’re like I just cannot pray about this thing anymore. Guess what? That’s okay. 

This is why community is so important so that when you reach the point that you are like I  can’t pray or think about this anymore you have people in your lives who can come around you and hold you up. To support you, lift you up, and pray for you and with you when you’re not able, no matter what is going on. 

Delayed Answers to Prayers

I also want to remind you that delay does not always equal denial. Think about the book of Daniel where he’d been praying and realized that time in exile was almost done. It takes a while for his prayer to get answered. 

When the angel finally shows up, he tells Daniel that God sent the answer to the moment he prayed it but there was some spiritual warfare going on. He had to call Michael down to come and take care of the principality, which was keeping him from delivering the answer. 

Just because it’s taking a while to get an answer or to see that answer happen, it doesn’t mean that God is saying no. There are always things going on in the unseen that you are not always privy to. You don’t always know what the hold-up is. 

I mean it might be that the answer to your prayer hasn’t come into your life yet. Maybe the answer to your prayer isn’t born yet. I have no idea, but God knows. God knows exactly what needs to happen, in what order, and how things need to be positioned and lined up for you to get the answer that he wants you to have. 

Try not to get so discouraged and frustrated when things take a while because in my experience God doesn’t operate under time constraints the way that we do right. He doesn’t think like that. His ways are not your ways, and his thoughts are not your thoughts. 

Yes, it’s hard and frustrating, but try not to get stuck in that discouragement. Continue to go to him in prayer.

Another Parable on Being Persistent in Prayer

Before we wrap up our time today, I want to hop over and look at one more passage of scripture. It’s in Luke 11: 5-10. At the beginning of Luke 11, there’s a shorter version of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus is already talking about prayer, how to pray, and what to do. 

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Does God get sick of your repeated prayers? Jesus very clearly is saying no. He says to keep asking for what you want. I love this because again we’re seeing somebody who starts off not wanting to answer or do the right thing, but because of shameless persistence, they finally get what they want from this person. 

Remember God is not like these people who are stubborn and refuse to answer requests. That’s not him, but he uses it as a really good example. If this person who just does not want to do right will do right eventually if you stay on them, how much more does your father in heaven love you? 

I love how this parable ends because it’s a very common scripture: ask, knock, seek. You are probably very familiar with this verse, but I wonder if you are familiar with what the words actually mean. 

Time for a quick vocabulary lesson because when studying the bible, words that are there are important. All of scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit so the words written were intentional, every single word matters. If you want to truly understand scripture, you have to understand the words that you are reading.

It needs to beyond what your English dictionary says it means. Scripture was not written in English. It’s written in Greek and Hebrew and then translated into English which means a lot can be lost in translation. 

The English language doesn’t always have words that capture the essence and the true meaning of what’s being said in the bible. When it comes to the commands to ask, to seek, and to knock they seem tame and laid back. 

What it Means to Ask

When you look at the Greek, you get a whole different picture and understanding of what Jesus is encouraging his followers to do when it comes to prayer. When Jesus tells us to ask, it doesn’t just mean ask a question or ask one time. 

It means to beg, crave, desire, or require, this is some serious asking. This is asking over and over and over again. When I think of somebody begging they’re on their knees. They crave whatever they’re asking for, they cannot live, exist, or survive without it. 

This is the definition when Jesus says ask and it will be given. If you are desperate in your request for this thing, there is no way that God is not going to answer you. 

What it Means to Seek

The next thing is to seek. And seeking is not just going to search for something. To see if you can find out where it is. That is not what is implied in the Greek. It says to seek in order to find, to seek a thing, to seek to find out by thinking, meditating, reasoning, or to inquire into it. 

Another one says to seek after, to aim at, or strive after. The second one is the one that really, brings it home and highlights what this looks like. It says to seek, require, demand, to crave, to demand something from someone. 

It sounds almost exactly like what ask means. You are seeking this thing, thinking about it, you’re figuring it out, and doing all of the research that you can into it. You crave it, you have to have it, you want it right now, you are demanding it, and it is important to you. 

You need it right now. When you pair that up with what you just learned about ask (to beg or crave). You’re getting some of the same words here to illuminate for you what Jesus is talking about. 

What it Means to Knock

Knock is exactly what you think of, knocking at the door. When you combine knocking with asking and seeking, it’s not about knocking on the door to see if someone will answer it. This is beating on this door with both fists. 

Screaming and yelling and anything it takes to get someone’s attention until you get the thing that you desire the most with all of your heart. This is what being persistent in prayer is. It’s what it looks like. 

Final Thoughts on Being Persistent in Prayer

God wants you to be persistent. He wants you to beat down the gates of heaven. Let God know that you’re serious about this thing and won’t give up until he answers you. Don’t give up until you have the thing that you know God has for you because you need it. 

Keep telling God that he must give it to you because you’re not going to leave him alone until he does. There’s nothing wrong with praying about the same thing for 40 years. God is not mad at you, he’s not sick of hearing from you. He loves it. 

Any time you come to God with anything that’s on your mind or heart, you are showing him that he’s the Lord of your life. That he is sovereign and you are acknowledging who he is and who you are in him. You are totally dependent on God, and that is something that he loves and cherishes as your heavenly Father. 

Please, no matter what you are facing, don’t be afraid to keep talking to God about it. When you are so overwhelmed with fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, shame, and whatever else it is that you’re feeling, the more that you take that to God in prayer the better you’ll feel. 

You are going to find peace, hope, joy, and the strength to keep going. It will be easier to set down that emotional burden that you’re carrying around. You’ll find relief from all of the hard stuff that you’re going through, even when the situation doesn’t get better. 

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Stop wondering if God is tried of hearing from you, being persistent in prayer is exactly what he wants.

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