Persistent Prayer

persistent prayer

One thought has sustained me over the past two weeks:  Hundreds of believers around the world are praying for our family.  With so much unknown before us, knowing of these prayers has been deeply comforting. Especially in the morning, when it’s easy to fear and hard to start another day, I remember your prayers. In my mind’s eye, I envision heaven being bombarded, all throughout the day, intercession after intercession, to the point where no one could ignore the pleas — and certainly not a loving God who invites us to pray.

This morning, while struggling with thoughts of Ginny in pain, my thoughts wandered to Genesis 18, a passage where Abraham pleads for help in a horrible situation.  He begs for mercy, asking God to spare life should there be “ten” people who are righteous, and God agrees with Abraham’s request. 

As I think of my friends around the world — people who serve, who teach, who give, who care, etc. — I am certain there are well more than ten who love God. In fact, over these weeks, I’ve been reminded of dozens and dozens of incredible friends I’ve met throughout my life.  This gives me confidence, knowing that if God listened to Abraham, he also listens to us. 

For those familiar with the Genesis story, you know that there were not ten who were righteous, and for that reason, Sodom was turned into smoke.  However, the story points us to something even greater — a truth that would only be fully realized hundreds of years later.  When we lack righteousness, or when we don’t even have ten on our side, God hears when even one prays. 

First, God listened to Abraham, singularly, when Abraham was alone and afraid. That prayer, despite the sad outcome, was heard and answered.  Second, countless stories throughout scripture tell of a single individual praying — and God responding.  One of my favorites is Jesus’ story of a widow who keeps praying and praying, and God eventually responds to her (Luke 18). All of those stories are encouraging, but it gets even better than that.

None of us are perfectly righteous or “super spiritual” — not even Abraham (who not only lied but “traded” his wife for his own safety) nor the widow (who is described as annoying). But there is, indeed, one who is righteous, and through Him, we can be assured that God hears our prayers.  As John writes, “We have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1).

There is power when believers unite in prayer, and in those efforts, we ask the Lord for peace, time, wisdom, and healing. We know that our plans may differ from the Lord’s, and we accept whatever He decrees. Yet, in our uncertainty, we can be fully assured that voices around the world are being raised to throne — and that Jesus Christ himself is praying for our good (Rom. 8:28).  

While Ginny’s condition is largely considered “incurable” according to current science, we believe that God can provide temporary healings along the way — reducing pain (Mk. 5:34), inspiring helpers and doctors (Mk. 2:3-5), or extending earthly life (e.g., Lazarus). We also believe that, ultimately, full and total healing will come to Ginny’s body, whenever God determines that to be (Rev. 21:4).

This promise is not merely for some, but for everyone. As our Good Shepherd (Ps. 23), God tends and cares for his sheep, and he does not leave them lost, alone, or suffering, but he finds and consoles them (Luke 15). Not a single sheep is left behind, and each one is kept safe in his loving arms. Ginny may feel like the one lost sheep, apart from the ninety-nine, but Jesus is focused on her. In that promise, we rest. 

In the meantime, friends, let us “bother heaven” like the persistent widow (Lu. 18:5). Please persist with us over these upcoming months and years. The parable is not told because God is bothered by our prayers, but quite the opposite: Jesus tells the story to invite us to “always pray” and to “not lose heart” (Lu. 18:1). In our persistence, we will be reminded, again and again, of our dependence on the only one who can save us — the only one who is perfectly righteous, God Almighty.

So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! 

(Luke 18:7-8a)