In the parable of the Unjust Judge and the Persistent Widow found in Luke 18:1-8, the poor widow kept on begging the judge to grant her justice. She didn’t just ask once and say, “Let me know what you decide.” She kept asking with persistent petitions.
The most effective prayers in the Bible are those that were prayed persistently. In Psalm 55:16-17, David wrote: “I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” For David, this wasn’t one of those once-a-day prayers. It was an all-day everyday prayer!
In the Old Testament, Hannah desperately wanted a child. For many years she prayed and prayed to have a child. After her prayer was unanswered for years she didn’t say, “Well, it must not be God’s will for me to have a child.” She kept on praying for years, and eventually, God gave her a son–Samuel, the mighty prophet.
Even Jesus prayed persistently. On the night before the crucifixion, He was in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring out His heart to His Father. His prayer burden was so intense there were drops of blood, like sweat on His forehead. He prayed, “Father, take this cup from me–but not my will but yours be done!” He prayed it again and again. Three times He cried out to His Father–and His Father heard Him and gave Him the strength and resolve to face the cross.
Paul had some kind of painful affliction he called a thorn in the flesh. He begged the Lord to remove the pain. He asked not once, not twice, but three times before the Lord answered. And when God answered, it wasn’t the answer Paul was wanting. God didn’t take away the thorn; instead, He gave him the grace to cope with the pain, so Paul began to give God glory in the midst of his pain.
Persistence is an important factor in prayer. One of the greatest men of faith in Christian history was the English preacher, George Mueller. He wrote these words about praying: “The great point is never to give up until the answer comes. I have been praying for 63 years and 8 months for one man’s conversion. He is not saved yet, but he will be. How can it be otherwise? I am praying.” George Mueller died and the man was still not saved. But as they lowered Muller’s casket into the ground, the man repented of his sins and trusted Jesus as his saviour–that’s persistent praying!