Genesis 18:20-32, Colossians 2:12-14 , Luke 11:1-13
Persistence, Patience, Perseverance in Prayer
There is a farmer whose name is Okoye. Okoye is from Orlu in Imo State. He is a well-known farmer. Because of the scarcity of water in his area, Okoye set out to dig a well. He selected a good spot and carefully set out to dig a well enthusiastically.
After digging like 25 feet, Okoye saw no sign of water. He became so frustrated and tired. He decided to rest a while and continue from where he stopped. After digging more than 25 feet, Okoye got tired and decided to quit. But just then, another man came up and asked him what he was doing, he explained his frustration about the lack of water.
The man took Okoye to another spot and told him “if you dig here, you will find water within a few minutes. Saying this, the man left. Okoye was very happy and excited. Again he dug more than 25 feet and still there was no sign of water. Okoye became extremely tired.
Despite this, another man came along and took Okoye to another spot and said to him “if you dig here, water will gush out in torrents. Okoye was so excited again. He went to the spot and tried the second time, but the only torrents that gushed out were his sweat. Okoye became extremely frustrated.
While pouring out his frustration, his friend came along and asked him the reason he is frustrated. Okoye explained to him his ordeals. His friend calculated the 25 feet that he dug in different places to be 100 feet.
It was then that His friend told him “had it been you dug the 100 feet in one place, at any place even, you will find water, even under a rocky surface”.
This applies to every aspect of life even in our spiritual lives. The three virtues we must have when we pray are patience, perseverance and persistence.
The three terms resemble each other but they are very different. Persistence is when you continue to do something. It is becoming steadfast, moving with unwavering faith. One who persists has this inner belief that there is a goal to achieve, so he continually moves.
It is the act of doing something despite the challenges one may face. But when you talk of perseverance, you talk of that continued effort to do or achieve something despite the difficulties, failure, or opposition.
Persistence is the ability to continue something despite how challenging it is while perseverance is that inner strength, faith and belief that push you to do something despite the difficulty and challenges. While patience is the ability to wait, to endure the trials and temptations and the capacity to accept or tolerate the delay, unanswered prayers, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
These three key virtues are the keys to powerful and effective prayer. This is the message of today’s readings. In our relationship with God and while we commune with God, we need to remain steadfast, persevere and be patient. Had it been Okoye was steadfast, persistent and patient, he would have achieved His desire.
To be persistent and patient does not mean we command God. it does not mean that when we do it, God will now bow to our pressure, No. We do not force God.
But perseverance, persistence and patience in prayer, indicate that we truly believe in whom we are praying. it reveals strong faith in God.
To persist in prayer means that You truly accept that God is so loving and always willing to answer the prayer, He is also capable of doing what we are praying for and finally, it means that We believe He is greater than any single challenge we may face in life.
Therefore, for effective prayer, these keys must be present and not lacking. Let us gradually take the readings in step by step analysis.
Abraham’s Request and What to Know About God.
In the first reading, God sees how grievous the sin of Sodom and Gomorrha is. God laments how grievous their sinful lives are. Then, He proposes to go down and see whether or not they have done all that is alleged in the outcry against them.
When the men who visited Abraham left, Abraham approached the Lord and said, ‘Are you going to destroy the just man with the sinner? Perhaps there are fifty just men in the town. Abraham asks God if He will not spare the place for the sake of the fifty men, but the Lord replied that ‘If at Sodom He finds fifty just men in the town, He will spare the whole place because of them.’
Abraham later pleaded for forty-five, Forty-three, forty, and then later for thirty, twenty, and ten. Yet it was certain that none was found there.
This particular text reveals to us some certain truths about God. We have to know these certain truths whenever we want to approach His presence.
Whenever we want to come into God’s presence, we have to be aware of truths about his nature and this will certainly convince and motivate us to always come to His presence. These truths are:
1. God is Merciful and Just.
God is highly merciful. It was in His mercy that He gave a chance to at least ten people to forsake the punishment that is coming to Sodom and Gomorrha. It was His mercy that motivated him to give Abraham a chance to plead for the people.
Here, the true intention of God was revealed. it is never the will of God that the soul of His created children will be lost.
He is also just. He knows that every worker deserves his rewards, that is why He also wants to punish the land of Sodom. Therefore, when we go in God’s presence, let us always know deep down within us that He is ever merciful and just. Being just, He is willing to give us good gifts if we deserve them.
The gospel also affirms this when it says “What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
2. God loves Righteousness
Let us always strive to be righteous before God. In the first reading, the condition God sets for Abraham is not the number of people who are riding the best cars, God did not request for the number of wealthy people, or evil people, rather God is requesting for only a few righteous people. Therefore, let us always know that righteousness pays.
3. God is Always Willing
In the first reading, We see God who is always willing to listen to anyone who prays to Him. We can see how God converses with Abraham. He is always willing to listen to us. When we go to His presence, let us always know that He is willing to listen. He is willing to converse with you and He is willing to answer your prayers. God is not deaf and will never be deaf.
The Desire to Pray Well.
For us to pray effectively, we must have a sincere desire to pray well. Prayer should not be forced. It must be something that must come from within.
In the gospel, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. But before that, we would observe that it was one of His disciples who requested that Jesus teaches them how to pray. The text says that Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished praying, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
We see in these disciples that intense desire to know how to pray. For you to have something, you must desire it. It is something that must come from you. You must have that deep desire to pray well.
When we cannot pray well, let us always approach the throne of grace, let us approach the presence of Jesus seeking the grace to know how to pray well and hard.
Prayer is not forced. We must have that intense desire to pray hard and well. This will help us to pray with persistence, patience and perseverance.
How to Pray: Prayer Pattern
When the disciple requests that Jesus teaches them how to pray, Jesus responds to the request and said
“Father, may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come;
give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we forgive each one who is in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test.”’
Let us draw some points from this prayer, which will help us to know the need to pray with more persistence, patience and perseverance. They are:
1. Before you go in God’s presence, always know that you are approaching your Father. Before Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray, the first thing that comes from His mouth was “Our Father’,
By this Jesus is revealing to us a very important key whenever we are communicating with God. He is our father and if He is Our father we must approach Him as such.
We do not approach Him as a man who is so heart-hardened, we approach him as a loving Father. To see God as a loving Father is already a step to pray effectively.
2. Then Jesus says “may your name be Holy”. To pray, Jesus acknowledged who God is. He praises Him and acknowledges His holy name.
Therefore, when we go in his presence, let us spend time praising and acknowledging who God is. Let us praise Him wholeheartedly.
Take your time and meditate on our daily prayers, you will observe that the time of praise comes first. Let us always praise Him.
3. Then Pray for your daily needs. Jesus says “give us this day, our daily bread” Jesus teaches his disciples to pray and work for their daily bread. Therefore, this is the time to ask or request for our daily needs.
4. Forgive everyone. Do not pray with bitterness or grudges.
Because of His Persistence, He will get up.
In the first reading, Abraham was persistent in His request until He decided not to request any longer. To emphasize the power of persistence, patience and perseverance, Jesus tells them a parable.
He says ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it to you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it to him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
In this parable, we shall glean the factors that would have made it impossible for the requests to be granted. They are:
1. The friend came in the middle of the night, which under normal circumstances is not the right time for the request.
2.Despite that he comes at night, He was requesting not just one, or two loaves. He is requesting three loaves which according to the Jewish tradition, is enough for a household. What if that was the last loaf remaining for the family. By asking for the three loaves, He is requesting food meant for a whole family. No one can be foolish to dash out all they have in the name of love.
3. The first friend is not sure whether the person he is requiring food from has what he is requesting.
Yet despite these factors, Jesus reveals that it is good to persist in our request to God. He says “I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it to him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants. Jesus answers them on the need to be persistent in prayer.
Therefore, what it means is that despite the temptations, challenges, difficulties and problems that we encounter in life, persistence and perseverance in prayer are the antidotes.
Persistence, Patience and Perseverance in Prayer.
Therefore, there will be a time when it looks as if God will not answer your prayers, there will also be a time when it will seem as if your prayer is worthless. You pray and it seems nothing in prayer. Always persevere in prayer.
2. There will be a time when it seems as if God is silent. Also persevere.
In your down and lonely moments always pray and never give up. With persistence, you will continue to seek the presence of God despite the challenges that may come your way, even when your prayers remain as if they are not answered, you are willing to seek God’s presence.
With patience, you are always ready to keep on expecting and trusting that God will never forsake you and with perseverance, you will be able to believe strongly that what you pray for will come to pass.
3. These three virtues will help us to persist in prayer. By this, we shall learn how to pray without ceasing. It means to approach God’s throne with boldness, confidence, and faith that he hears us and will answer us.
It is perseverance that will help us to keep praying even when we don’t feel like praying, even when we have been praying for the same thing for years with no results. The virtue of persistence keeps us going.
It is difficult to persevere in prayer when we don’t see any change happening in our lives. We might feel like we are just wasting our time, that God is not listening to us. Hence, by this time, the virtue of persistence is needed.
4. When Jesus says “Because of His persistence He must get up. Jesus affirms the need to keep on praying. Persistence with your intentions might be the only key that will unlock closed doors in your life. Keep on.
Ask And you shall receive, Seek and You shall find.
Jesus then assures His disciples saying
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
The Lord promises to always answer our prayers. It may not be the answer we were expecting, but it will always be the absolute best thing for us.
But to receive that answer, we must keep asking, seeking, and knocking. Therefore, Jesus does not encourage laziness, faithlessness, lack of patience and lack of perseverance when we pray. When we pray, God demands our seeking and knocking.
To ask here means to pray. In this relationship, there is One who we ask (God) and the one who asks (we). It indicates that the One who we ask (God) has what it takes to do what is asked of Him for the one who asked (we).
Therefore, it also shows that the One who We ask (God), must in one way or the other be superior to the one who asks (We).
In essence, to ask God something in prayer shows God’s superiority and power over us and that He has what it takes to do what we ask.
If this is true, then to go to God in prayer demands humility, obedience and trust. In this relationship, we ask, And the One who we ask (God) does it the way He wants. We do not detect for Him how He will do it.
Secondly, whoever asks, receives, means there is always an answer to every prayer. The answer could be yes, or no if it is not the will of God or if God has something better. The answer can be “wait” if there is a time God considers the best to answer our prayer.
When many ask, and they do not get exactly what they want or the way they want, they are tempted to lose hope. That we pray for something and things do not go the way we want is not a sign that God is keeping silent. He hears every voice at prayer but answers it the way He wants.
2. To seek something means there is an inner desire to search for it.
To seek something means to go into action. It does not mean we pray only and sleep. To seek something detests laziness. The Greek word used here is zēteite, which means to search with your heart.
What Jesus is trying to tell us is that if we pray, we have to seek too. Therefore, if we pray, we have to go into action. Prayer and works go together. Therefore, as you pray, do not forget to work towards the fulfilment of what you pray for too.
When we hear “ask and you shall receive”, we often think God is only telling us to lock ourselves inside the room and begin to shout on top of our voices. Maybe the more you shout the more God hears. This is far from it.
This does not also mean that you stay without doing anything, and you expect manna from heaven. God can never encourage laziness. Even after putting the man in the garden of Eden, He instructed the man to till it and water the garden (Genesis 2:15).
In 2 Thessalonians 3;10, Paul also warns that He who does not work should not eat. So, in today’s promise, after Jesus says; Ask, and you shall receive, He also says seek and knock.
To seek and knock means action and effort. You have to work and pray. As you pray that God answers your prayer, make an effort also on your part. God will now give you the grace to break those barriers.
1. The first point we have to derive from today’s texts is the ability to help and pray for others. When we pray for others, we also pray for ourselves. Today, we find it hard to see people praying for other persons, what we pray for is for ourselves and how to achieve our selfish desires.
In the first reading, Abraham prays for the people of Sodom and Gomorrha. In the gospel, when the disciple approaches Jesus, He did not ask Jesus to teach him personally how to pray, rather his request was “teach us how to pray’ Therefore, His interest is not only for Himself alone. He was more interested in how to help others. Always be willing to pray for other people. It also opens great doors of blessings. Sometimes we also invite what we pray for the other person.
2. In the first reading, Abraham teaches us how to pray too. Just like Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. Abraham also teaches us how to pray. When we read the encounter between God and Abraham we will observe that this was a friendly and loving conversation.
It was a heart-to-heart encounter. When we observe the encounter, we will see that it was like a friendly discussion characterized by persistence, patience and perseverance. This is what prayer is. Prayer is more of a friendly and loving conversation with God. This is the reason Jesus starts with “Our Father”. it is a revelation that this must be a lovely discussion between the father and son, or father and daughter.
3. In the gospel, we shall observe also, that the disciple who requests that Jesus teaches them how to pray first of all sees Jesus praying. It was obvious that He must have admired this holy attitude and gesture of Jesus. He then proceeds to ask Jesus to teach them.
This is advice to everyone. However, you build a home is how it will be. When you do something, there may be people you may be influencing either knowingly or unknowingly. When parents devote their time always to prayer, the children will grow to learn from them. Whichever way we want our home or community to be, must, first of all, begin from us.
4. As God reveals His true nature in the first reading, Jesus reveals the true nature of God in the first reading. When Jesus gives an example with the parable, Jesus is revealing to us that God does not keep silent as many thought, rather He may have wanted to know how truly we believe that he could do what we are requesting from Him.
When Jesus says “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him” Jesus also reveals the power of persistence, patience and perseverance in prayer.
He also reveals how God is always willing to answer our prayers. Therefore, God is always willing, if we are willing never to give up on Him.
He also reveals how loving God is when He says “What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
5. Finally, the reason we have to show persistence, patience and perseverance in prayer is that God is a good God. He is a loving Father. He is always willing to answer our petitions, but to do so in a way that is for our highest good. From the summary of what Jesus says “what God gives is always good”. Therefore, when we pray, whichever way, however, and whenever God answers our prayer is always good.
Therefore, let us seek God with persistence, patience and perseverance. This is not a way to command Him but a way to show how we trust in His ability to listen to us. Therefore, never give up on God.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to have strong faith in Him. May He never forsake you. Amen