Persistence in Prayer
Jesus Christ gave an example of persistence in Luke 11:5-8. The example is one of a person persistently asking for what is needed for a guest, even after his friend declined to provide what was needed, initially. This follows right after the outline for prayer given in verses 2-4 and is a continuation of thought regarding prayer to our Father in heaven. A similar account of persistence is found in the account of the importuning widow in Luke 18. The word used in Luke 11:8 which is the focus of example given by Jesus Christ, is translated “persistence” in the New King James version. The King James version translates this word as “importunity”, which is not often used today, but better renders the intended meaning of the Greek. Importunity means to “press or urge with troublesome persistence, to annoy, to beg, and to solicit persistently and troublesomely”.
Jesus Christ went on to explain how we should be persistent in our prayers in Luke 11:9-10. Once again, this is a continuation of thought that began in verse 2. Verses 9 and 10 provide a three step process we can utilize to be persistent and successful In our prayers. The first step is to “ask”. The Greek conveys the concept of “demanding something that is due”. This means that our needs and requests are appropriate and we have standing before God the Father through Christ’s sacrifice, which is explained in more detail in the Epistle to the Hebrews. We have a right to ask repeatedly and persistently before a just, righteous judge for vindication and deliverance from a situation or adversary greater and stronger than we are. The second step is to “seek”. The Greek conveys the concept of “searching for something that is hidden”. If it is hidden, it means God knows and we do not. Seeking also implies that clarity and an answer to a request take time and are not revealed immediately, hence the need for persistence. This would indicate it is important that we wait until God clarifies the situation and provides guidance as to the right course. We often do not know what to do and “seeking” clarity is important, so that we do not force the issue and make a harmful decision. The third step is to “knock”. The Greek conveys the concept of not only knocking at a door, but to “continue or keep knocking”. This clearly means that we need God to open the door, because we cannot (which is why we knock). The continuation of knocking conveys the need for persistence on our part. Of course, there are instances when God’s answer is “no”, and we should be content with that. However, when God opens the door, we must be bold and act upon the opportunities God provides. Here is the partnership we have with God. God provides the opportunities and we work and perfect the opportunities provided. This three step process will help us be successful in our prayers as we ask, seek clarity and God’s will, and knock continually until God opens the door, so that we can boldly walk through and do something with the opportunities God provides.