“Always pray and never give up,” -Jesus.
He really has a way of packing a lot into very few words. His statement reveals the nature of giving up in difficult situations. If we truly believe that God is able to rescue, deliver, change, move, transform situations in our life and for those we pray for, then when we stop praying, we have given up. Oh, I know that most of us would say, “I haven’t given up.” I think that would be my argument many times, but I have to consider how the Lord has expressed this principle. The NIV translates this to say ‘don’t give up.’ The KJV translates this as ‘do not faint.’ And the word of origin comes from the root word ‘depravity.’ Depravity is the absence of something. In the context, praying to the Lord puts us in the Throne Room of Grace whereas giving up or fainting would means we have stopped entering the Throne Room of God.
In a kingdom society, when a person wanted to ask the king for something, he would be summoned to the Throne Room to stand before the king and make his case. The king could refuse to see this person. Or the king could listen, but still deny their request. But the only place to make the request was in the Throne Room of the king. In the book of Hebrews, we hear about the Throne Room of our Lord:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
We enter the Throne Room through prayer. When we pray, we enter into a deeper level of presence with the Lord. It doesn’t mean He is not with us everywhere we go. In a kingdom, the king was their king no matter where they traveled in the kingdom, but when they needed something, they had to get before the king. God is with us always and He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, but we have been called to enter into His Throne Room, especially in times of duress, to petition Him for what we need.
We may not feel that we have given up when we stop praying, but Christ is speaking of continually going into the Throne Room of prayer to petition the Lord for our needs and others. Christ is making that case that if we continue to go back to the Lord in prayer, we will find strength for our situation. If we stop going to Him in prayer, our strength wains and we become faint. But how does prayer make us stronger and not praying make us weaker? The prophet Isaiah talked about waiting up on the Lord and how those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)
In this version, we see that those who put their hope in the Lord renew their strength. Other versions translate it as those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength. If we take this concept back to Jesus statement about always praying and never giving up, He is reminding us that when we pray, we will not always receive an answer forthwith. Sometimes, in fact, many times, the Lord delays any answer at all. He does not deliver us right away. He does not fix the situation as quickly as we ask for. He sometimes seems slow. So when the Lord seems to not give a quick answer, Jesus teaches us to keep praying and waiting on the Lord and to never stop. In this, we are putting our hope in the Lord and we are waiting for Him to respond, to act, to answer our prayers. Making us wait is supposed to make us stronger?!?
I have never thought to myself sitting in an hour long traffic delay that I am getting strong because of this. It is not the waiting that makes me stronger. It is the One with whom I wait. When I wait in the Throne Room through prayer, then I am in the presence of the Lord. The original word that is being translated into ‘hope’ or ‘wait’ depending on the version of Scripture you use comes from a root word that means ‘to bind together.’ In prayer, we are being bound together with Christ. And something is bound together, it becomes one. In the Thone Room, there is no fear, no stress, but only love and mercy for humanity. As I pray, I am bound together to the Lord by the Holy Spirit. A transformation begins to take place in me so that I begin to feel what my Lord feels. I begin to think as He thinks. I begin to respond as He responds. His concerns become mine. His plans become mine. His purpose becomes mine. Because He is pure love, when I wait with Him through persistent prayer, He is perfecting my love and eliminating my selfishness. When my prayers are shallow and trite, I undergo no transformation. I do not remain long enough in the Throne Room to be transformed. Shallow prayers will leave us shallow-only thinking of our own wants and desires.
Being bound up with the Lord increases my strength. He is transforming me to be more like Him. As He purifies my heart, my emotions are purified, and I am not as tempted to go off on someone when they have offended me. Instead, I am able to love them, even those who persecute me. As my desires become His, I am no longer so easily tempted by the pleasures of the flesh. I am stronger to resist temptation. He is pure love and being bound up with Him through persistent prayer fills me with His pure love for everyone helping me to love others better.
It is the love of God that moves Him to release power in our times of need. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.’ (John 3:16). Because of His love for Creation, He came and conquered sin, death, and Hell. The love of God releases the power of God. The Lord is always looking for vessels or conduits of His love that can testify that the power others have seen was not a coincidence or the work of devils. No, when we are used by God to let His love flow from Heaven into the lives of other people releasing power for miracles, we will gladly shout it from the rooftops that is was our Lord. Without vessels or conduits, who will communicate that the miracle seen is the hand of God. But how can we be vessels of God’s love if we don’t love like Him?
The waiting of persistent prayer radically changes us that we love as He loves making us a better conduit of His power so He is able to release more power through our prayers. It is the waiting in persistent prayer that increases God’s power in our prayers.
Jesus said, ‘Whatever you ask in my name, it shall be done’ (John 14:13). Too many of us have taken this to me that we need to be sure and include that very important phrase, ‘in the name of Jesus, we pray.’ But that is not what it means. A person’s name represents who that person is. It represents their core values, their character, their way of doing things, their way of approaching life. To pray in the name of Jesus, the heart of our prayer must reflect His values, His integrity, His love, His compassion, His mercy, His will, His plan, His desires. And this requires transformation. If we want to see power in our prayer, we must learn to pray persistently over things in our life until the Lord answers. When we stop praying for that situation, the transformation process ends and we limit the power of our prayers.
When it looks like God is doing nothing, though you have been praying, know this: He’s doing something. He is preparing your heart to be the kind of heart through which He can release the full measure of His power. He doesn’t want to just answer this prayer. Like electricity travelling through water, He is preparing your heart to be a conduit of great miracles. Always pray and never give up!
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