Lesson Seven – Persistence in Prayer

Persistence in Prayer

Lesson Aim:  To show how a persistent prayer life can persuade God to change things that are otherwise unchangeable.

Scripture:  Luke 11:5-13.

Historical analysis for reading the two parables.

Place:  Probably Judea, Luke 10:38.

Occasion:  One of Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, Luke 11:1.

Time:  Jesus’ ministry was well organized by the time He gave this parable.  He had chosen the Twelve and sent out the Seventy Two, Luke 9:1; 10:1

Audience:  Perhaps His regular followers, Luke 11:1.

Aim:  The same as the title of this lesson, Luke 11:8-10.

Scripture:  Luke 18:1-8.

Place:  Jerusalem area.  Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, Luke 17:11.

Occasion:  Jesus responded to a question asked by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God would come.  Jesus told them what they were asking was not really the question they should ask.  He wanted them to accept the principles of life in the kingdom for their daily lives.  Furthermore, they should maintain this quality of life as they meet the challenges of living in the world with people who do not live by these principles.  Jesus wanted them to live in this manner until He comes back.  The challenge was in the fact that they would not know when it would happen.  See Luke 17:20-37.  In light of the foregoing “He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart.”  Luke 18:1.

Time:  The final days of Jesus’ teaching ministry before He offered Himself as the world’s sin offering, Luke 19:1.

Audience:  Jesus’ disciples, Luke 17:22.

Aim:   To show how Christians may face challenges in our lives where our only option will be to pray or give up.


A popular term commonly used to somehow influence the natural turn of events is “good luck.”  Bad luck supposedly explains the outcome of events gone wrong.    These terms are used to identify the force behind the outcome of an event.  This would be an event in which no known entity is in apparent control.  A closer examination of the habit of using this terminology would generally mean we assign this force to a natural law established by God.  In reality, good luck would mean God was cooperating with the situation.  Bad luck would mean He was working against people in a given situation.  Although this begins to sound like witchcraft, it is the logic often used to describe the forces impacting peoples’ lives.

Christians have a better understanding of the powers we encounter.  Indeed, we understand our Lord has established laws of nature to control the universe just as He revealed the laws of life for our inner self while He lived on earth (John 1:1-4).  The word “luck” may be appropriate language for fun and games but we would want to use more trustworthy terms for describing the dynamics of the real world.

We are sure there is no need to change the laws of life; however, the question we want to consider in this lesson is; “Can the laws of nature, or their resultant factor, be changed?”  Christians are sometimes hesitant to ask God to change things which control nature – so we may just say, “good luck.”  Some religious people think God would “back up the moon” to prove His presence in a given situation.  So, we have the charismatic thinking on one side and the ultra conservative on the other.  The question still remains; “Does God change things which otherwise are unchangeable?”  Yes, God was changing the laws of nature long before the Holy Spirit ascended on Pentecost.

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill.  And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’ 

Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you.  On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 

And I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’  II Kings 20:1, 5, 6

The Holy Spirit did indeed change the law of nature many times when Jesus was first building His church as it is recorded in Acts.  It does not signify that we believe the “spiritual gift age” is still active just because we ask God to change a law of nature on our behalf.  Jesus teaches us to be a persistent optimist.  Faith in God believes God is, and that He rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6).  God’s rewards are available for delivery right now.  In some cases it may require Him to “bend” the laws of nature.


Jesus’ parable, commonly known as the “Friend at Midnight,” teaches Christians a powerful lesson.  It is especially valuable for those of us who tend to be pessimistic.  Jesus suggests that God will relieve our burdens if we will be persistent in prayer.  Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given to you.”  However, prayer is not the only way we are to be persistent.  Christians must seek and knock.  We seek ways to develop ourselves as sons of God.  We knock on the doors of opportunity in order to be “salt and light” for God.  According to Jesus we cannot hope to be successful without the guidance and fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  See John 7:37-39; Acts 5:32; Gal. 4:4-7; 5:16-18.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?  Luke 11:13

It will not matter how many deficiencies our circumstances of life has put upon us when God answers our prayers for His fellowship.  The Holy Spirit and a faithful Christian is a winning team.  Christians cannot be pessimistic and have fellowship with the Holy Spirit at the same time (II Cor. 13:14).  God will give the Holy Spirit to Christians who are persistent in seeking His fellowship.  All “born again” people have the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 39).  However, we can see from Jesus’ teaching in our lesson text a response is required of us if we will enjoy His fellowship.

Even though the Spirit of God and Jesus Christ are willing to join us in our spiritual growth as we meet the challenges of life, we, not they, must be persistent in asking, seeking, and knocking (I John 3:21-24).  We ask God for what we think we need to stand equal to and overcome the challenge.  He gives us what He knows we need.

Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Luke 11:11

Sometimes we ask for the wrong thing and receive nothing (I John 5:14).  Sometimes we ask for the mundane when we could have had the eternal.  God will be pleased to hear our request for the sacred over the profane.  We older people ask our loving heavenly Father to repair our old worn out bodies while all along He is waiting to give us our glorious new bodies (I Cor. 15:42-44).  Young people ask, seek and knock for higher social connections.  They could have had a Person of the Godhead working with them on their achievement enterprises.  We may not acquire the Holy Spirit’s assistance, simply because we did not ask.  Our physical problems generally are not as detrimental to our happiness as our mental state of mind.  Some people never have enough money or good health, yet they live a happy life.  They have a good mental and spiritual attitude.

A Christian’s “prayer of asking” must encompass the three elements Jesus repeatedly used in the seventeenth chapter of John.  Please note in verse one how Jesus first analyzed His situation, “Father, the hour has come.” In verse two He made His request, “Glorify Thy Son.” Finally, He told God what He planned to do with the help He received in relation to His situation – “That the Son may glorify Thee.”  Jesus repeated this three element principle throughout His prayer.

Christians who plan to ask God for something first need to analyze our situation in the presence of God.  This is the first step in an asking type prayer.  If we do not understand our problem how can we know what to ask for?  Next, we humbly ask God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves; however, we feel it needs to be done.  Finally, we tell God how we plan to use what He gives us to glorify Him in our present or upcoming situation.  We can understand how this would prevent Christians from making wrong requests.  In some cases, in the analyzing process we may find the solution to our tribulation.   All of our prayers should not be asking type prayers.  See I Tim. 2:1.

Christians sometimes become depressed because of our physical pressures.  God may not choose to relieve our physical tribulations.  He is always willing to enhance our mental environment by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  A good physical environment without a healthy mental condition is useless for a happy and useful life.  The presence of the Holy Spirit can do more for our mental condition than physical blessings.  A terminally ill Christian who is in fellowship with the Holy Spirit can be happy (Rom. 8:10, 11).  The way we deal with our suffering will make a powerful gospel sermon for the church, our families and friends.

According to Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:1-8, there is another area in which Christians may need God to change things for us.  The tribulation in this case came from the injustices of others.  We should not expect to find perfect justice in the world realm.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to obey the laws and rulers of the land; even though, He recognizes civil judges are unrighteous.  See Romans 13:1-6.  The justice departments in the world realm are described as “ungodly” in Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian church (I Cor. 6:1-7).

When we find ourselves being treated unfairly, it may become a test of our Christ-likeness.  Peter exhorts us to make sure we follow the example set by Jesus.  We will behave in a just manner even though our righteous behavior may be rewarded with suffering.

For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right, rather than for doing what is wrong.  For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.   I Peter 3:17, 18

Sometimes Christians find ourselves under the power of a really mean enemy.  It may appear that justice will not triumph for us.  Jesus gives us two choices:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1

We have the privilege of one of two choices: We can ask God for relief, or we can choose to lose heart – too many people make this choice.  We could try to avenge ourselves against our adversary; however, for many good reasons, God has asked us to leave vengeance to Him (Rom. 12:19; Jas. 1:19-21).  This leaves Christians only one course since we must never lose heart.  We keep on praying to God.  If we can believe God will “bring about justice for His elect,” we will not lose heart.

In some cases God may wait until the Day of Judgment to answer the prayers of His elect for justice.  Our assurance of this is the main purpose of the Revelation given to John.  The attitude of Christians must be, “If any one is destined for captivity he goes; if any one kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed.  Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.”  Rev. 13:10.  Jesus may return before justice comes.

The question is not; “Will God answer our prayers for justice,” but “Will Jesus find faith in us when He returns?”  If our faith is that “God is, and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him,” we will not lose heart.  We will pray and we will believe God will change the unchangeable.  He can still change the laws of nature if this is what it takes to attain His will in a given situation.  See I John 5:13-17.

A human being without zeal for justice is in trouble – even though our zeal may consume our physical life (John 2:17).  We must never, never give up, that is, lose our zeal for a good life (I Peter 3:10-12).

I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?  Luke 18:8

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why are the terms good luck and bad luck poor terminology for Christians?
  2. There are two very opposite positions taken by religious people in regard to God’s willingness to change the results of the laws of nature.  What are they?
  3. Why do we know it is not necessary to join the modern day charismatic movements in order to seek to persuade God to change things?
  4. When Christians follow the teachings of Jesus why will we be optimists?
  5. After we ask, seek, and knock, Jesus promised us a special fellowship.  With whom will we have this blessing?
  6. Why would the answer to the foregoing be the best answer to help us bear our tribulation?
  7. Why should we pray for a closer fellowship with the Holy Spirit when all Christians are promised His companionship?
  8. From Jesus’ parable in Luke eighteen, what is another area in which we may need to pray for God’s help?
  9. What should we do about those who bring injustices upon us if God does not take action after a reasonable period of time?
  10. What are the two choices Jesus suggests we have open to us when we are being treated unjustly?

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