I like things to be instant. Well, everything except pudding. Nothing beats a slow cooked custard pudding. But for the most part if I decide something, I want to go right then and get it done. I’m just like that.
Yet, I’m learning that things don’t happen this way in the Kingdom of God.
For some reason God seems incredibly concerned with persistence.
From the story of the friend who got what he needed because he wouldn’t stop knocking, to the widow who gets the justice she desires because she won’t stop bothering the King— Jesus, himself, gives us permission to pound on the gates of heaven with our requests.
Even in the Old Testament we’re given stories of those who pray persistently. From Hannah who begged for children, to Abraham who pestered God to not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of his nephew Lot, (though God could not find even 10 righteous people to spare the city, He did still send angels to take Lot and his family out of the city before it was destroyed) to Elijah who prayed that it would not rain for three years and half years.
I think of this persistence as “wrestling prayer.” When you wrestle something you are “struggling with a difficulty or problem” of some kind. Spending time and energy in the cry for a solution. One definition of the word “wrestle” says, to fight by holding or pushing instead of punching or hitting. To hold firm and push with steadiness instead of throwing a fit and losing control. (Oh, I could learn some lessons in this!)
Wrestling prayer is a foreign concept to many of us. It is the complete opposite of the American mentality. Yet, it is part of the Kingdom life. When we need something from God, we are told to keep coming. To ask for what we need. To seek more of Christ. To knock at the door of heaven.
I’ll be honest with you– when I pray for something for a week I feel like I’ve spent a lot time in prayer for it. But I am convinced that God desires more. That He is calling His people to relearn how to live in consistent prayer.
Someone once said, “Sometimes God takes a long time to do an instant miracle.” How true! It only takes a moment to read the story of Hannah… but how many years were wrapped up in those few sentences? The miracle you read about last week, or the one you saw today– there may have been years worth of prayers preceding.
When I studied the book of Job this last time, I found that the key to understanding Job’s interaction with God was in realizing the importance of conversation. (In other words, prayer.) Job was honored because he maintained conversation with God through all the hard things. Holding tight to a belief that God was there, and had control in all the out-of-control circumstances surrounding him.
Conversation with God transforms us. It changes our hearts in a way nothing else can.
And here is the truth that quiets me: I don’t pray to get what I want, I pray to give God a chance to remake me.
I look at these stories from the Old Testament– Abraham, who was remade into the father of nations. Hannah, who was remade into a mother of Israel’s last Judge. Elijah, who was remade into one of the greatest prophets.
I look at myself and cry out with them all– Lord, remake me.
I start praying when I wake. Lord, teach me to know You more today. Praying when I’m making breakfast. Lord, you know the names and birth dates of all my children. I rest in the knowledge that You are in control of my infertility and this adoption journey. Praying as I wait for the steer’s water vat to fill. Oh, Jesus, give us wisdom as we work. Provide the finances we need to face today. Praying as I prepare lunch. Oh, Father, be near my husband as he works. Pour Your favor on him. Open doors for him to share Your truth with those who enter his shop.
Over and over I carry the burdens of this life to the throne room of Jesus. And I’m learning, friends. Ever so slowly, but I’m learning.
Jesus teaches us how to pray in the gospels. To praise the Father for who He is. To declare His kingdom! To ask for what we need. To ask for forgiveness as we stumble through this life and for the power to forgive those around us. To ask for deliverance from temptation.
Oh, how I want to learn this! To learn this persistence, consistent, wrestling prayer. This prayer-life that is marked by holding fast and pushing toward the Throne Room of God. This knocking and seeking and asking.
In the book of Isaiah God says, “for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” And today, I say, “May my life be called a life of prayer.”
May everything I am be marked by my conversation with God.