In 1959, Billy Graham and his friend Grady Wilson spent time as tourists in Moscow. While touring the city they wandered into Lenin Stadium. It happened to be empty. As he sat staring over its vast expanse, his heart was deeply moved for the Russian people. He bowed his head and prayed that God would open the door to preach the gospel in Moscow. Decades passed, but Graham did not lose his hope. He continued to pray. Then in 1992, over 30 years later, he finally was given the opportunity to lead evangelistic services in Moscow. Night after night, he preached to overflow crowds in the 38,000-seat Olympic arena. After all those years his dream had finally been fulfilled. The seeds sown with his persistence in prayer brought about a great harvest in due time.
I am not sure what your reaction is to this parable in Luke 18:1-8 comparing God to a grumpy old judge. The point of the parable is not to teach us about the nature of God, but about the need to persist in prayer. Verse 1 says Jesus was “telling them this parable to show them how that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart.” Yet Jesus does imply a contrast between God and this unrighteous judge in order to stress the willingness of God in matters we bring to Him. Jesus promises that it is God’s desire to bring about justice for those who cry out to Him and that He desires to do so “speedily.” (Verse 8)
But notice how He concludes this parable: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Be careful how you read that. In context Jesus is not saying that persisting in prayer is a sub-faith expression. But that sometimes it is the faith expression.
Persistence may not be one of our more notable qualities. We like our microwave ovens, drive-thru restaurants, and online orders delivered to our front door in 3-5 days. But persistence in prayer can be necessary on least two fronts:
It can wean us from pride and self-dependence in revealing to us we are in way over our heads and “unless God does” we have no hope.
It can also be necessary because by faith we trust God for what we do not know. In every war there are multiple battles that are fought. And particularly when it comes to praying for others, in the spiritual realm, we do not know how many battles need to be fought. So we never lay down our armor or our weapons, but we persist in prayer for as long as it takes until the war is won.
Who are you praying for to come to faith in Jesus? Don’t give up! Never give up! Insofar as you are concerned, persist in prayer with insistence in prayer until the prayer is answered.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, knowing you are willing, please give me the faith to persist with purpose until I prevail.