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Chapter 26: Knowing When to Keep Praying

Isaiah 62:6–7: “You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest.”

Main Idea

When should we stop praying and accept God’s answer as “No”? Thrasher contends that “our sovereign God has purposed to sometimes require persevering prayer as the means to accomplish His will” (189–90). This chapter helps us know how to navigate this sort of prayer.

Chapter Summary

Whether the circumstances are George Meuller praying fifty years for the salvation of two men or a Canaanite lady begging Jesus for mercy on her demon-possessed daughter, sometimes God seems to ignore our prayers.  But rather than assuming that God’s seemingly “uncharitable” responses—or lack of response—mean “no,” God’s people need to recognize when God calls us to persevere in our asking, seeking, and knocking (see Matthew 7:7–11).

According to Thrasher, God might delay his response to a request

  • To purify our desires.
  • To prepare us for His answer.
  • To develop our life and character.
  • To be used of God in spiritual warfare.
  • To bless us with a more intimate relationship with God (190–191).

But how can we know when to persist?

We can have confidence to persist in prayer when we discern the Spirit’s prompting us to pray, when we set our hearts on God and His will more than ours, when we are praying the promises of Scripture, and when we are willing to submit to God’s timing.

My Story

One of my children consistently struggles with patience. (Don’t we all!)  Like his father, this child likes to work out and develop a strong body. So we have explained to him that patience takes the same effort as building muscles: work, weariness, and waiting. And like our physical muscles, the more we use our patience muscle, the easier such activity becomes.

I have to admit that while I have grown accustomed to engaging my patience muscle, the fibers of my perseverance-through-prayer flexors have grown slack. I look back to many a prayer begun in earnest and with a passion for God’s will and realize that it has been years since I repeated my requests—not because God has said “no” but because of weariness and jadedness and distraction.

If I were hungry, I imagine I would keep seeking food until I found it or died trying. By comparison, my lack of perseverance in prayer indicates a lack of hunger for God’s will being done on earth. Ouch! I would not have described myself as being indifferent to the divine will, but my prayer life reveals my true self-centeredness and faithlessness.

How I wish to be more like the psalmist or the Canaanite woman. Both looked beyond their circumstances and rejection and clung to the grace and mercy they knew they would find in God. They both had a vision for God’s greater mission.

History has shown that humans have a longing to belong in a story greater than themselves and their own meager existences. Persistent prayer is the porthole to the greatest story that ever has been or will be told. Thank you, Mr. Thrasher, for reminding me to step through it.

Discussion

How strong is your persistence muscle? Do you remind God of His promises and pray repeatedly for his will in particular situations? Sometimes our requests need refinement, but the only way we will understand this is if we bring our requests repeatedly before the Lord with a humble and submissive heart. Does your request line up with what He has promised and taught through Scripture? If you do not know, ask God for wisdom and study his Word for the answer. James 1:5–6 promises that God will give wisdom to those who seek it through faith.

Challenge

Think about a time when you have prayed that God would fulfill a promise in a very specific way–maybe that he would bring a friend or relative into his kingdom, or that he would relieve the suffering of one of his servants, or that he would glorify himself through a particular situation. Make yourself a reminder on your phone or computer or calendar to pray for this specific request at least once a week. Then be on the lookout for how God will work in you as you pray.

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Chapter 24: Discovering God’s Purposes While You Wait

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Main Idea

That we can experience God’s blessings in the midst of waiting on God in prayer.

Chapter Summary

There is more to prayer than putting in a request and getting what we want. The author cites three examples of people who asked God for a variety of things that He did not see fit to give. One was for the healing of a loved one, another for a touchdown in a football game, and the last for a relationship that went sour. All three where disappointed when God “did not come through.”

Thrasher reminds us that we come to God as His servant, not as His master. Prayer is not telling God what to do. For how can the servant know better than the Master or one who is finite better than the Infinite?

When we come to God, we come to Him on His terms recognizing who He is… understanding that “our desires are based upon our knowledge and perception, which are always limited – but our trust is in the omniscient God who loves us.” (p. 171)

When we pray, we seek for His will to be done on earth. We don’t always understand what that is. So, we take the burdens of our hearts and lay them before Him, trusting Him to do as He sees fit.

There are times when we pray, that we end up waiting for God to work. During this time, we can experience God’s purposes which are far beyond the mere getting of what we want. These purposes include a wrestling with God that places us under His authority and a gaining of perspective, as the Word of God sheds light on our situation and our own hearts.

My Story

This past year, I have wrestled with God over a loved one moving to another country to minister in the Middle East. To make matters worse, a mutual friend was diagnosed with cancer. Why the Middle East in the midst of political instability, confusion, and hatred for the West? Why cancer and why the timing of all this?

My need has brought me to my knees. This place has become holy ground as I have poured out my heart to God. I was reminded that He knows what I do not. The Word of God shed light on my own heart revealing hidden thoughts of selfishness and lack of commitment. I began to gain a perspective on this life that gave me hope and understanding as I viewed the eternal.

As I prayed and I waited on God to work, I experienced the blessings of God…as did my loved ones, and so did my friend.

She is still waiting on God to heal her cancer, if He sees fit. In the meantime, she has experienced the blessings of God. He has helped her deal with her fears and worries, and has given her amazing strength and peace. He has given her good health in the midst of her chemo treatments, so that she is able to live a “normal” life. He has also supplied her with wonderful friends who have strengthened her and loved her during this journey.

Yes, I am still waiting to see how all of this works out, but in the meantime, I have experienced the blessings of God while I wait. I am learning, though much more slowly than I’d like…that waiting on God can be a good thing.

Discussion

How can we learn to trust God more fully when He does not answer our prayers the way we think He should? Do you think we can be so fixed on what we think God should do, that we cannot see God working in any other way? Can this lead to missed blessings? What are some things we can do while we wait for God?

Challenge

I cannot say this more beautifully than my friend, Laurie. So, I will conclude with her challenge from the previous post. Thanks, Laurie.

Where in your life are you being demanding of God and His timing in the activities and situations of your life? Do you feel like you are waiting? Rejoice! This is a good place! God is teaching and loving you! Lean heavily on Him, spend time hearing and listening to His Word and know the JOY that only He can bring in the waiting!

 

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Chapter 23: Experiencing the Joy of Waiting

Luke 10:42  “. . . . but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Main Idea

That we can experience joy in the midst of waiting on God and what he is doing in our lives.

My Story

Many years ago I had planned to marry a fine young man. When things did not turn out the way I had expected, I went through a long time of wondering what had happened. I wanted God to answer me in my time frame and give me what I wanted. When He did not, I began a journey of waiting. It was not easy—at times a real struggle—but as I began to spend much time with God and in His Word, I began to have a different perspective. God ultimately brought another wonderful man into my life who is now my dear, beloved husband. If I had not waited, and if I had demanded my own way, I do not think things would have turned out as they have. Nor would I have learned some deep lessons on the goodness of God’s love and direction in my life.

Discussion

How can we learn to enjoy life fully, be free of anxiety and worry, and know true love? When we learn to wait on God. This is not always easy, but it is something the Lord desires for us to learn and know.

Thrasher shows us in this chapter how waiting on God develops in us characteristics that teach us how to find joy in the waiting. He uses the story in Luke 10 about Jesus visiting his friends Mary and Martha. They each desire to serve Jesus but do it in different ways. Martha wants to serve Jesus and Mary waits at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Jesus speaks to Martha and is not necessarily upset that she is wanting to serve. He is more concerned with her attitude about how she is serving and the motive behind it. Martha is distracted, worried and anxious. Jesus wants to calm Martha in her frazzled state.

On the other hand Mary is waiting in expectancy to what her Lord will teach her.  She is willing to do whatever Jesus would ask of her but her state of being is in waiting. Thrasher reminds us that waiting is not inactivity but obedient faith, and can also be found in an attitude of prayer. This is what God calls us to. Most of us live in a “frazzled” state as Martha did. Jesus does not want us to be in a frazzled state, but waiting on Him, abiding in Him, as He teaches us to lean on Him.

Throughout Scripture we are shown that we are to wait continually (Hosea 12:6), to wait silently (Lamentations 3:26, to wait patiently (Psalm 40:1) and to wait eagerly (Isaiah 26:8). In this day and age waiting is hard for any of us to do. We want things done “right now.” Or we want to know “why?” right now.  The Lord teaches us deeply in the waiting. But how we do it determines the blessing of gaining the joy of the Lord. We have to abide in Him, rest in Him, and not demand that God show us what we want. He is the master—we are to love and serve Him.

The benefits of waiting are numerous as Thrasher shows us. We gain freedom, courage, strength, deliverance, vindication, God’s favor, salvation and support. When we can let go of our agenda and wait on what the Lord may have for us, then and only then do we begin to experience the joy the Lord gives in knowing Him and seeing the good He has for us in a given situation. Then we can know the joy of waiting!

Challenge

Where in your life are you being demanding of God and His timing in the activities and situations of your life? Do you feel like you are waiting? Rejoice! This is a good place! God is teaching and loving you! Lean heavily on Him, spend time hearing and listening to His Word and know the JOY that only He can bring in the waiting!

 

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