Prayer is as current as today’s newspaper. It is as real as this book you are holding and as fresh as the breath you are now breathing. In fact, we hope this book will help move you toward the place where prayer becomes your breath! Praying about current events can be fun and powerful.
Sometimes the prayer assignments are serious and difficult. In 1997 several of our closest church families gathered to pray about a serial killer who had committed five murders in the city of Houston. On that particular Wednesday night the children and youth joined the adults in fervent intercession for this man to be captured prior to the ten o’clock news.
Later that night as we prepared for bed, suddenly from another room we heard our youngest daughter, Ashlee, squeal with delight. As we rushed to see what had happened, she was jumping up and down in the living room pointing at the television. “They caught him! They caught him!” she shouted. The news reporter explained that at about 8:45 P.M. that evening, the police had received an anonymous tip as to where the killer was hiding. When they arrested the man, they were able to verify immediately that he was the murderer, for in his pocket was the class ring of the man he had murdered the night before.
For current and engaging prayer breakthroughs to occur like this one, we may have to lay aside some of the old habits of prayer we have learned. It’s time to risk, stretch and ask God for new and fresh approaches to prayer. Contrary to what you may feel or have been taught, not all of your prayer assignments will require years to complete!
In our formative years, sometimes we heard it taught that to pray twice for the same thing was a sign of unbelief. We were even taught that it was “vain repetitions” (Matt. 6:7). But that’s not true! Let’s all learn to dig deeper into the Scriptures and not believe everything we’re taught— or everything we read, for that matter—until we confirm it through the Word of God.
Christ taught us to pray repeatedly and persistently when He said: “Ask [keep on asking] and it will be given to you; seek [keep on seeking] and you will find; knock [keep on knocking] and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” —MATTHEW 7:7–8 ==========================================
WHAT GOD’S WORD TELLS US ABOUT PRAYING
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'” —LUKE 18:1–5
“And being in agony, He [Jesus] prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” —LUKE 22:44
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” —EPHESIANS 6:18
In Matthew 26:44 we read that Jesus “left them [His disciples] and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.” Jesus was not the only person in Scripture who prayed for the same thing three times. The apostle Paul also prayed for the same thing three times: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” —2 Cor. 12:8
We must understand that all prayer is war!
Perseverance is a primary requirement for effective prayer. The British intercessor George Muller said, “When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it till the end comes. I never give up till the answer comes. The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer. They do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it.”
Anything less than persistent prayer is lifeless prayer.
Why is persistence so important? There are at least three reasons persistence in prayer may be necessary.
- Persistence in prayer sets the stage for His response.
God often postpones His answer in order to prepare the person or the situation for which we are praying to receive His response. (Read Luke 22:31.32; Acts 2:14, 32.33.)
Charles H. Spurgeon said, “We must be careful not to think that delays in prayer are denials. Unanswered prayers are not blown away by the wind; they are treasured in the King’s archives where every prayer is recorded.”