It is said that persistence without purpose is useless, but when persistence is used to reach a goal in spite of difficulty or opposition, then it is a good trait to have. Persistence is not considered one of the “fruits of the spirit” but it does work alongside patience, which is. Maintaining an action regardless of your feelings or failures takes power, the power of patience. Often in the face of adversity, we give up, especially when the journey becomes more difficult. Our enthusiasm wains as our commitment begins to crumble. This is why it is important to size our commitments in proportion to our goals, using our persistence to reach them.
The Persistence of Sweetness
Paul Harvey illustrated this in the story he told about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother. Before the pair entered the store, the mother gave very specific instructions to the child, “You are NOT going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask.” She put the child in the buggy’s seat and off they went up and down the aisles. He was doing just fine until they came to the cookie aisle. Seeing the chocolate chip cookies, the child asks, “Can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Mother quickly replied, “I told you not to even ask. You are not getting chocolate chip cookies!”
The 2 continued up and down the aisles, but in their search for certain items mother had to backtrack, and they ended up in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” Once again, the mother replied, “I told you that you are not getting chocolate chip cookies. Now be quiet and don’t ask again.”
Finally, they arrived at the checkout counter. The little boy sensed that the end was in sight and this was his last chance. So, he stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?” Everyone at the front of the store started laughing and applauded his theatrical display. The other shoppers were so moved by his daring tactics they pooled their resources and the little boy with his mother left the store with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. Now, that is the result of persistence.
What is your level of persistence? Do you continue to keep acting even when you don’t feel motivated to do so? The value of persistence comes from a vision of a future that is so desired you are willing to do whatever you can to make it happen. Perhaps this is why those who practice persistence in prayer come to trust and understand God at a deeper level.
This week has been a week of persistent prayer for me as so many people I connect with have met with tragedies and stressful situations of all kinds. My neighbor had an emergency earlier this week and has now gone on to be with Jesus. A family unit finds themselves currently in a situation of circumstances that has shattered their world. Another faces sudden job loss and heightened anxiety of the unknown. All of these situations have called for the use of the acronym ASAP. But then again maybe all of life calls for ASAP.
Most of us think of ASAP as the simple acronym meaning “As Soon As Possible.” But recently, I read that we probably should think of this abbreviation in a different manner, for if we do, it might enable us to find a new way to deal with rough and unexpected days along the way. Because there’s always work to do, deadlines to meet, stress to be dealt with, and no time to spare we should go along remembering to apply ASAP along the way. It helps things fall into perspective as peace follows so we can move forward. So, in the midst of family chaos, ASAP. When worry comes in overwhelming waves, ASAP. When stress threatens to take over, ASAP. What is this ASAP? Always Say A Prayer.
The Underlying Purpose of Persistence
The knowledge that God is in control no matter the situation that is occurring in our life offers us the comfort and ability to keep moving forward. But even with this knowledge and conversations with God, persistence is necessary so we must continue to ASAP. Even in persistence, however, we must acknowledge that it is easy to get discouraged when we don’t receive an immediate answer or even the answer in the relief, we think we desire or deserve. This is why it is important to understand what persistence in prayer really does.
It is significant to remember that in our prayers, even those that are persistence in nature, that we remember prayer is not magical. God is not a cosmic genie, as Dr. Charles Stanley frequently says, standing by waiting to grant our wishes. There is an order to prayer and a way to do it but above all, prayer is a conversation with our creator. It is the way to deepen our relationship and this takes persistence. Christ pointed out how much more our heavenly Father loves us, His children, and desires to have a relationship with us to give us good things. But prayer is not a means to the end. Prayer produced boldly with persistence helps not change the heart of God, but to change our heart and mind, deepening our relationship with Him. For prayer is an internal communication that allows His divine power to be released into us.
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.Luke 11:9 (NLT)
Understanding Persistence in Prayer
God does want good things for us but what we want may not be a good thing. This is why it is important to understand that the power of prayer is not us succeeding in changing the mind of God, but that God succeeds in changing us. For if we come to Him in persistence, then no matter His answer, we are demonstrating our full trust in Him. This allows Him to control our lives in the best way that is the most beneficial to His kingdom.
When we persist in prayer it helps us understand and express our own emotional energy or our needs to God. But it is important that with prayer we are allowing God full control of our life, placing our faith that He will do what is best for each situation at the time. So, whether His answer is yes, maybe, or even no, it is important to understand that He is in full control even when our lives seems spiraling out of such. For prayer is not a shopping list of desires. It is a conversation with a friend who has the power to help but who cares about us enough to give only what is best for all involved.
Persistence in prayer doesn’t change God for He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Prayer produced in persistence changes us. For this intensity of prayer deepens our relationship with the Almighty and strengthens our connection to Him. So, let us all, ASAP with the full faith that in the midst of life, no matter the answer, that we develop the peace to keep trusting in God’s authority and control.
Won’t you take the challenge to not only ASAP but remember why you do so? Find your convictions rooted in the knowledge that persistence in prayer deepens your relationship with Christ and permits you to see God’s work in action as He changes you for His kingdom. Allow your motivation to stem from knowing that He has already given you His greatest gift through Christ, His Son, providing you the privilege of eternal life with Him. Surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that no matter your persistence or God’s response that He is able to turn every circumstance around for your long-term good and to fulfill His purpose for you.
Love in Christ,
The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers… In it, we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things but also in what order we should desire them.St. Thomas Aquinas, as quoted in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2763
What are Your Thoughts?
Do you always ASAP? Does your prayer life hold both consistency and persistence? Share your thoughts on the importance of persistent prayers.