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Just Thinking

I Was Just Thinking … Persistent Fervent Prayer

Jesus once said, “In praying do not heap up empty phrases, as those do those who think they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). And yet in his parable of the widow and the unjust judge, Jesus clearly taught that we should keep on making the same request to God “day and night” (Luke 18:7).

In Bible classes people have sometimes argued, “Surely ‘genuine faith’ in the God who answers prayer does not keep us asking for the same request over and over again, day and night. Rather, we should just pray ‘the prayer of committal,’ that is make our request just once, and then commit the matter to the Lord.” But my answer is always that in Luke 18:7-8 Jesus taught that the ‘genuine faith’ which gets prayer answered keeps bringing the same request to God, day and night.

You see, when we strongly feel the need for God to answer prayer, and we plead with him as the poor widow pled with the judge, then our hearts come closest to rendering true worship to God. Prayers that emerge from pleading hearts are worshiping God in spirit and in truth. “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

In olden times Israel thought that God was best pleased by the pomp and ritual of her temple liturgy, by the continual offering of sacrifices upon the altar. But to all these things God replied, “I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:14). That pomp and ritual was motivated, not by the cry of anguish which declares how much the soul needs God, but by the hope that men could thus show God how much they had done to earn his favor. But God hates nothing more than the endless ways by which men try to obligate him to bless them. (Composing beautiful prayers with many words can be one of these ways.) All such ways are works in which people think they can boast, but God has clearly said, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

So God never becomes weary of the heart-cry of those who despair of themselves, and whose hope is only in the Lord. Such a heart expresses genuine worship because it honors God and his promises. Since God seeks for individuals to worship him in spirit and in truth, he loves to hear prayers from such hearts ascending to his throne day and night. There is no way that such prayers can ever wear God out. He delights in them so much that he will, as Jesus promised, answer them speedily (Luke 18:7).

God becomes disappointed when we cease praying to him with the fervor the widow had as she petitioned the judge. According to Deuteronomy 4:29 he will reward our search for his favor only when we seek him with all our heart. So let’s follow the lead of the old gospel song that says:

Just keep on praying till the light breaks through.

The Lord will answer, will answer you.

God keeps his promise; his Word is true;

Just keep on praying till the light breaks through.


Daniel P. Fuller

July 1973


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