One of the things which has been happening in my life is that I have found myself in a situation where I need/want direct guidance from God. The people who know me best (family) advise me to pray and wait for God’s guidance. The absolutely wonderful Christian people I have met and I have told about my situation in private have either pointed to Bible passages to advise me, or have encouraged me to continue praying and waiting for guidance, and have agreed to pray with/for me too. Personally, I tend to follow the advice of the people who know me and my situation the best (my mother for example). However, I also know that God’s timing is perfect and if I were to make a move now then it would be a disaster.
But this got me thinking there is more to prayer than we want to believe, especially prayer requests.
I know from past experience that persistent prayer results in God giving me direct guidance (or moving the figurative chess piece for me) at exactly the right moment and in exactly the right way, and it isn’t just my life experiences that say that persistent prayer results in God’s answer to that prayer, it is also written in the Bible in Luke 11:5-9, Luke 18:1-8, John 16:23-24, Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 15:21-28.
When I spent time in Christ’s presence, I had learned how to worship Him, study His Word, let Him speak to me through stories of great Christians, and journal my thoughts, fears, and praises as prayers to Him. But the idea of wrestling, importunate, persistent prayer was completely foreign to me. Whenever I had a specific request, concern, or need, I brought it to Christ – once or twice. Instead of praying with confidence and boldness, I prayed, “Lord, if it is your will, then please do this or that.” And if no answer came after one or two times of praying, usually I assumed that it wasn’t “His will” to answer, and I let it go. It even seemed unspiritual to keep pressing the issue with God. I felt that it was better to just cheerfully accept the lack of response from heaven, rather than act like a pesky child and go back to Him again and again.
But then I started studying what Scripture says about prayer. And what I found was somewhat shocking…….
…….Instead of assuming that Christ doesn’t desire to answer our prayers when we don’t receive an immediate response, we are to press in with even more persistence, not letting go until our request is granted.
~ Set-Apart Feminity, by Leslie Ludy (excerpt from pages 152, 153 and 155).
I could never have said it any better than this. It was also mentioned in the book (and this part I am paraphrasing) that if a prayer is not coming from a Christ-centred heart then eventually the person will give up on the prayer request - that person is not praying according to God’s will. However, if the prayer is coming from a Christ-centred heart then the person will never give up praying until their request is granted – that person is praying according to God’s will.
As Leslie mentioned, many times we give up and assume it wasn’t God’s will. Or as I have experienced, start looking for the answers ourselves instead of watching, waiting and listening. It is important to read your Bible to know God’s character, but a person can also read their Bible in such a way that they see the answers they want to see. We need to rely on God to show us what he wants us to see, and when he wants us to see it.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I have decided that I am going to be bold in prayer and silent while listening for God’s response because I know he will show me where he wants me to go as long as I stay focused on him first.