In a recent sermon on the power of prayer (by Pastor Mike at Hope Community), we looked at Luke 11 as a reminder about how it pays to be persistent in our prayer lives. That God may answer – not because of His love, but just to get us to stop asking! Asking over and over again can work. Just like a child whining for that toy in Target. Sometimes just to make it stop we give in. Not because we want to buy them the toy, not because they deserve it or even because we feel like rewarding them, but just to get them to shut up! Been there?
Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?” Luke 11:5-13 (The Message)
However, as I listened I was reminded about how I took the persistence approach for years with God about the forgiveness of sins. I prayed for years for the forgiveness of a certain sin that I was so convicted about I couldn’t let it go. Persistence for forgiveness is futile because God forgives after just one request! It took me years to determine I was wrong in my approach because I had not studied His word carefully for myself. I had relied on the wisdom of men and on Satan’s whispers instead of God’s.
It’s important that we understand prayer and repentance are two different issues. In prayer, it’s not a cat and mouse game, but persistence can pay off. Unless God has given you a clear answer continue to seek Him and place your request before Him. He may give you the desires of your heart. However, in repentance, you can take rest in knowing you don’t need persistence. You are forgiven the moment you ask God with no special forms or fees to pay. Just like that – He takes your burden and your trash. Just don’t be tempted to go digging back in the landfill to find that trash and carry it back to your heart! Let it remain with our Heavenly Father because He is able to carry the burden and we will only be crushed by it.
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5