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Got to Keep Pressing On

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Faith in God energizes us to pray persistently. We pray because He wants us to do so, and because He has promised to hear us and respond, as well as to help us in our praying by the Holy Spirit.

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Perseverance in Prayer

Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Prayer, Perseverance in

A father related that during their family time each person was going to pray for one person. His son prayed to ask God to help his friend Eddie be better at school because he was so bad. When they got together the next week, the father asked his son if he was going to pray for Eddie again. “No,” the son replied, “I prayed for Eddie last week and he is still bad.”

Privilege of Prayer

Genesis 32:24–28 ESV
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

From "Deceiver" to "He Strives with God" - When God knows you, you have access to Him in prayer.

Jesus has made it clear that there will be a period of time between the inbreaking of the eschaton now at his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the full coming of the eschaton not yet at the last judgment (17:20–37). Therefore, he now encourages his disciples to continue in prayer and not to lose hope if the delay seems long.

The Promise of Prayer

Psalm 121:5–8 ESV
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

God stands, both before you and with you, when you pray.

2 Timothy 4:1–2 ESV
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Διαμαρτύρομαι = I solemnly testify
ἐνώπιον = before, in the presence of
Romans 8:15 ESV
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:26 ESV
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

The Promise of Prayer

John 14:12–14 ESV
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 14:18–19 ESV
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Romans 12:2–3 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:2 ESV
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We have power in prayer, because God has given us faith in His living Word, the Bridegroom, who has promised to hear us and answer us. The world cannot act upon these promises, because the world does not trust Him. The Bride, and the Bride alone, has the authority, privilege, and right, both to cling to the promises, and to invoke them.

The Practice of Prayer

The Book of Concord Third Part: The Lord’s Prayer

But before we explain the Lord’s Prayer part by part, the most necessary thing is to exhort and encourage people to pray, as Christ and the apostles also did. The first thing to know is this: It is our duty to pray because of God’s command. For we heard in the Second Commandment, “You are not to take God’s name in vain.” Thereby we are required to praise the holy name and to pray or call upon it in every need.

Therefore you should say: “The prayer I offer is just as precious, holy, and pleasing to God as those of St. Paul and the holiest of saints. The reason is this: I freely admit that he is holier in respect to his person, but not on account of the commandment. For God does not regard prayer on account of the person, but on account of his Word and the obedience accorded it. On this commandment, on which all the saints base their prayer, I, too, base mine. Moreover, I pray for the same thing for which they all pray, or ever have prayed.”
Kolb, R., Wengert, T. J., & Arand, C. P. (2000). The Book of Concord: the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (p. 442). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
The Book of Concord Third Part: The Lord’s Prayer

In the second place, what ought to impel and arouse us to pray all the more is the fact that God has made and affirmed a promise: that what we pray is a certain and sure thing. As he says in Psalm 50[:15*], “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you,” and Christ says in the Gospel in Matthew 7[:7–8*], “Ask, and it will be given you,” etc. . . . “For everyone who asks receives.”

The Book of Concord Third Part: The Lord’s Prayer

Furthermore, we should be encouraged and drawn to pray because, in addition to this commandment and promise, God takes the initiative and puts into our mouths the very words and approach we are to use. In this way we see how deeply concerned he is about our needs, and we should never doubt that such prayer pleases him and will assuredly be heard.

How can we, therefore, not pray? What greater assurance can we receive, beyond all that God has graciously given to us, both in His proclaimed Word, and in the Sacraments? What exists on earth that is comparable to the fact that we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand?
Definition of Faith: Suppose there is a fire in the upper section of a house. As the people gather in the street below, a child is seen at the window of a room next to the fire. The fire trucks are at least five minutes away and so will be too late to help. How is the child to escape?
Now suppose that in the neighborhood lives a large man, well known for his strength and athletic ability. He arrives at the scene and shouts to the child, “Drop into my arms. Don’t be afraid. I’ll catch you.”
It is one part of faith for the child to know that the man is there. It is another part of faith to believe that the man is strong and able to catch someone. But the essence of faith lies in his dropping down into the man’s arms.[1]
[1] Green, M. P. (Ed.). (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching: Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor’s illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Jesus foretold His death, and it happened. He foretold His resurrection, and it happened. He foretold the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and it happened. He foretold your new birth, and it happened. Trusting God in prayer comes from a far more secure place than the place in which the widow of our Gospel text stood. She stood on the righteousness of her complaint, and the confidence that the righteous God would cause the unrighteous judge to deal righteously with her.
We trust in the Word of God, not merely the text, but Christ Himself, Who died for us, and rose again, that we might have access to the Father as beloved children of God. God has done all that He needed to do.
What Has God given me to help in my praying?
What does it mean when I don't see a change in the situation, am I failing due to a lack of faith?
On what basis does God answer prayer, and on what basis does He not answer?
Does God respond to my faith, or is my faith a response to God's promise?
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