Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is There A Limit To Prayer?

What kind of warriors are we? A good warrior never quits, even if it costs him his life. There is a persistence and determination in their actions because they have been ordered into action. Imagine if every army that went to battle were filled with the likes of us? Would we be those who flee when faced with insurmountable odds or those who held their ground even to death? The only difference is that we go to war, not with swords and shields, but on our knees. How persistent are we?

If we want to consider examples of prayer warriors there are a few of them in the Scriptures to admire. Just consider Elijah. We are told that he was a man just like us, as normal as we are, but he understood his responsibility and the place of prayer:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:17-18)

James was making the point that our weapon is prayer:

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (v. 16)

The thing is that Elijah had to persist in prayer just as much as we do. He prayed what he was told to pray. He knew it to be Yahweh's will and still he had to persist in prayer:

And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”
So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” (1 Kings 18:42-43)

James words to describe prayer were "effective, fervent". Fervent, intense, enthusiastic, persistent. How quickly we forget the lessons Jesus taught on persistent prayer, not giving up, continuing until it happens. Many believe that praying once is enough and if it doesn't happen it wasn't Yahweh's will. But Jesus taught us to pray until something does happen or we get a clear answer. Remember the persistent widow and the judge who finally gave in to her because of her persistence. Listen carefully to Jesus' conclusion:

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8)

Will he indeed?

People use Paul's thorn as an excuse not to be persistent. They consider that since he prayed three times they can draw the conclusion that we should limit ourselves to praying three times. Such people fail to understand that it was after Paul prayed the third time that he got a response. You don't keep praying after Jesus has responded. For Paul it was only three times, for Elijah seven, for you maybe 100 times. There is no set number, just the instruction to be persistent until we have the answer.

What strikes me in this is that Elijah prayed what he knew to be Yahweh's command and still he had to persist until something happened. So what kind of warriors are we on the battle field? Do we throw our weapon down when we meet with resistance, or do we persist and stand on the ground we have been given to keep? Your family and friends are your responsibility, for whom you fight and protect. You are to cover your leaders. You are to fight for the weak. Remember at all times, you are a prayer warrior: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Never give up. Pray on until something happens.

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