The Power of Persevering Prayer
Written by: Murray, Andrew Posted on: 04/10/2003
For nearly 100 years, Andrew Murray's sermons have been consistently
recognized, and their usefulness and impact have continued to the present
day, even in the outdated English of the author's own day.
Why then should expositions already so successful and of such stature and
proven usefulness require adaptation, revision, rewrite or even editing?
The answer is obvious. To increase its usefulness to today's reader, the
language in which it was originally written needs updating.
Though his sermons have served other generations well, just as they came from
the pen of the author in the eighteenth century, they still could be lost to
present and future generations, simply because, to them, the language is
neither readily nor fully understandable.
My goal, however, has not been to reduce the original writing to the
vernacular of our day. It is designed primarily for you who desire to read
and study comfortably and at ease in the language of our time. Only
obviously archaic terminology and passages obscured by expressions not
totally familiar in our day have been revised. However, neither Andrew
Murray's meaning nor intent have been tampered with.
All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of
Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Power of Persevering Prayer
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always
pray and not give up. . . . And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust
judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who
cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you,
he will see that they get justice, and quickly."
Of all the mysteries of the prayer world the need of persevering prayer is
one of the greatest. That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless,
should have to be asked, time after time, sometimes year after year, before
the answer comes, we cannot easily understand. It is also one of the
greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When,
after persevering pleading, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often
easiest for our lazy flesh, and it has all the appearance of pious
submission, to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have
His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request.
It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome. When once faith has
taken its stand on God's word and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself
to the leading of the Spirit to seek God's will and honor alone in its
prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay. It knows from Scripture that
the power of believing prayer is simply irresistible; real faith can never
be disappointed. It knows that just as water, to exercise the irresistible
power it can have, must be gathered up and accumulated until the stream can
come down in full force, so there must often be a heaping up of prayer
until God sees that the measure is full, when the answer comes. It knows
that just as the peasant farmer has to take his ten thousand steps to sow
his tens of thousands seeds, each one a part of the preparation for the
final harvest, so there is a need for often repeated persevering prayer,
all working out some desired blessing. It knows for certain that not a
single believing prayer can fail of its effect in heaven, but has its
influence, and is treasured up to work out an answer in due time to him who
perseveres to the end. It knows that it has to do, not with human thoughts
or possibilities, but with the word of the living God. And so, even as
Abraham through so many years "Against all hope, in hope believed" and then
"through faith and patience inherited the promise."
To enable us, when the answer to our prayer does not come at once, to
combine quiet patience and joyful confidence in our persevering prayer, we
must especially try to understand the words in which our Lord sets forth
the character and conduct, not of the unjust judge, but of our God and
Father, toward those whom He allows to cry day and night to Him: "He will
not keep putting them off; He will see that they get justice, and quickly."
He will avenge them quickly, the Master says. The blessing is all
prepared; He is not only willing, but most anxious, to give them what they
ask; everlasting love burns with the longing desire to reveal itself fully
to its beloved and to satisfy their needs. God will not delay one moment
longer than is absolutely necessary; He will do all in His power to
expedite and rush the answer.
But why, if this is true and His power is infinite, does it often take so
long for the answer to prayer to come? And why must God's own elect so
often, in the middle of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? He is
waiting patiently while He listens to them. "See how the farmer waits for
the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn
and spring rains." The farmer does, indeed, long for his harvest, but
knows that it must have its full amount of sunshine and rain, and he has
long patience. A child so often wants to pick the half-ripe fruit; the
farmer knows how to wait until the proper time. Man, in his spiritual
nature too, is under the law of gradual growth that reigns in all created
life. It is only in the path of development that he can reach his divine
destiny. And it is the Father, in whose hand are the times and seasons,
who knows the moment when the soul or the Church is ripened to that
fullness of faith in which it can really take and keep the blessing. Like
a father who longs to have his only child home from school, and yet waits
patiently until the time of training is completed, so it is with God and
His children: He is the patient One, and answers quickly.
The insight into this truth leads the believer to cultivate the
corresponding dispositions: patience and faith, waiting and anticipating,
are the secret of his perseverance. By faith in the promise of God, we
know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him. Faith takes and
holds the answer in the promise as an unseen spiritual possession, rejoices
in it, and praises for it. But there is a difference between the faith
that thus holds the word and knows that it has the answer and the clearer,
fuller, riper faith that obtains the promise as a present experience. It
is in persevering, not unbelieving, but confident and praising prayer, that
the soul grows up into that full union with its Lord in which it can enter
upon the possession of the blessing in Him. There may be in these around
us, there may be in that great system of being of which we are part, there
may be in God's government, things that have to be put right through our
prayer before the answer can fully come: the faith that has, according to
the command, believed that it has received, can allow God to take His time;
it knows it has prevailed and must prevail. In quiet, persistent, and
determined perseverance it continues in prayer and thanksgiving until the
blessing come. And so we see combined what at first sight appears
contradictory--the faith that rejoices in the answer of the unseen God as a
present possession and the patience that cries day and night until it be
revealed. The quickness of God's patience is met by the triumphant but
patient faith of His waiting child.
Our great danger, in this school of the answer delayed, is the temptation
to think that, after all, it may not be God's will to give us what we ask.
If our prayer be according to God's word, and under the leading of the
Spirit, let us not give way to these fears. Let us learn to give God time.
God needs time with us. If only we give Him time, that is, time in the
daily fellowship with Himself, for Him to exercise the full influence of
His presence on us, and time, day by day, in the course of our being kept
waiting, for faith to prove its reality and to fill our whole being, He
Himself will lead us from faith to vision; we shall see the glory of God.
Let no delay shake our faith. Of faith it holds good: first the blade,
then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Each believing prayer brings
a step nearer the final victory. Each believing prayer helps to ripen the
fruit and bring us nearer to it; it fills up the measure of prayer and
faith known to God alone; it conquers the hindrances in the unseen world;
it hastens the end. Child of God, give the Father time. He is patiently
listening to you. He wants the blessing to be rich, and full, and sure;
give Him time, while you cry day and night. Only remember the word: "I
tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly."
The blessing of such persevering prayer is unspeakable. There is nothing
so heart-searching as the prayer of faith. It teaches you to discover and
confess, and to give up everything that hinders the coming of the blessing,
everything there may not be in accordance with the Father's will. It leads
to closer fellowship with Him who alone can teach us to pray, to a more
entire surrender to draw near under no covering but that of the blood and
the Spirit. It calls for a closer and more simple abiding in Christ alone.
Christian, give God time. He will perfect that which concerns you.
"patience--quickly," this is God's watchword as you enter the gates of
prayer: be it yours too.
Let it be thus whether you pray for yourself or for others. All labor,
bodily or mental, needs time and effort: we must give up ourselves up to
it. Nature discovers her secrets and yields her treasures only to diligent
and thoughtful labor. However little we can understand it, in the
spiritual farming it is the same: the seed we sow in the soil of heaven,
the efforts we put forth, and the influence we seek to exert in the world
above, need our whole being: we must give ourselves to prayer. But let us
hold firm the great confidence that in due season we will reap if we don't
And let us especially learn the lesson as we pray for the Christ's Church.
She is, indeed, like the poor widow, in the absence of her Lord, apparently
at the mercy of her adversary, helpless to obtain restitution. Let us,
when we pray for His Church or any portion of it, under the power of the
world, asking Him to visit her with the mighty workings of His Spirit and
to prepare her for His coming--let us pray in the assured faith: prayer
does help, praying always and not stopping will bring the answer. Only
give God time. And then keep crying out day and night. "Listen to what
the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen
ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I
tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly."
Transcribed by Tony Capoccia of
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