We really want the answer or desperately need it, so we keep praying. Those are valid reasons, but there must be more to why we keep asking the Lord for something.
Persevering with a prayer point can become a tiring repeat of the same request and feel like a joyless ‘nag’ segment in our praying. We can avoid that by taking a fresh look at why we keep asking.
To persevere means to keep going despite difficulty or delay; not giving up when there are no obvious signs of progress. But prayer perseverance is more than just a determination to keep asking.
Our feelings about a need will affect prayer stickability. But not as much as knowing how the Lord views the need. Belief about what pleases the Lord will fuel our praying, even when our tank of feelings about the need runs dry.
In prayer, we bring our request into Jesus’ name because we believe it is in his will and the answer will honour him (Jhn 14:13). That faith-bond with the need (and the desired answer) is deeper than our emotional attachment to it.
We rarely understand (so can’t explain to ourselves or others) why the answer to our prayer is being delayed. The reason ‘hides’ in the mystery of the Father’s perfect ways. What isn’t hidden, however, is his love for us and his covenant of unceasing goodness (Jer 32:40). So, in trust, we keep asking until he answers, or until he nudges us away from that asking point (see the post, Keep Asking).
The Spirit who energises us to pray with the expectation of a ‘now answer’ also gives grace to keep asking when the answer delays.
There are reasons why we keep asking the Father for something. Persevering prayer is:
- A declaration of dependence. Perseverance is our admission that we have no other avenue of help that can answer the need; we lean on him alone.
- A demonstration of trust. Praying isn’t complicated, but the outcome we pray for is not always a simple equation: need + ask = answer. Prayer authority works in a trust relationship with the Father. He knows the lives and circumstances that the answer will affect, and how they fit into the outworking of his plans. We have confidence in his love to hear and care about the need, and in his wisdom to answer at the right time and in the best way. Trust doesn’t put an expiry date on asking; it perseveres.
- A challenge to deeper agreement with the Lord. Persevering in asking allows us to ‘build a case’ in prayer, to advocate for the answer. By talking with the Father about good reasons for the answer, we deepen our agreement with him about the asking point.
- An opportunity to increase admiration of the Lord. By simply replaying our asking point, our praying can become tiring and joyless. That prayer point is a beam of light pointing us to the Lord’s fullness. The more time we spend with it, the more it lights up aspects of his glory for us to respond to. So, while the prayer point remains the same, our admiration of the Lord in prayer keeps enlarging.
- A pursuit of God’s honour. This is the crowning reason why we keep asking: we believe the answer will draw attention to the Lord. We honour him by desiring that and reaching for it tenaciously in prayer.
Focus on a prayer request which you have spoken to the Father about a few times already. You are aware that you are asking in his will. He hasn’t answered the request, yet hasn’t indicated that you are to release it. So, you keep asking. To protect your joy and your faith regarding the answer you are reaching for, make time for the above five reasons for persevering. Each day, unpack one of the reasons as you keep talking to the Father about that prayer request.