Summary: Five points on how to persevere in prayer
How to Persevere in Prayer
October 19, 2003
Survey on Prayer:
On March 31, 1997, Newsweek magazine published the result of a survey on people’s prayer beliefs and habits. The title of the survey was “Is God Listening?”
87%--of the people believe that God answers prayers.
54%--say they pray on a daily basis, that is, 25% pray once a day and 29% more than once a day.
Then it gets interesting when Newsweek asked them what they believe about prayer:
82% ask for health or success for child or a family member
82% believe that God does not play favorites in answering prayers
79% believe that God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease
75% ask for strength to overcome personal weaknesses
72% think prayers for help in finding a job are answered
54% say that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer
51% think that God doesn’t answer prayers to win sporting events
36% never pray for financial or career success
82% don’t turn away from God when prayers are not answered
Why the big difference in percentage between those who believe that God answers prayers and those who actually prays?
Out of 87 percent who believe that God answers prayers, why only 54 percent prays on a daily basis?
Possible reasons why people don’t pray:
1. They don’t believe in prayer
2. They don’t have problems to pray for
3. They could not find a time to pray
4. They don’t know how to pray
5. They could not find a place to pray
Main challenge in prayer
1. It is not the theology of prayer—belief in the power of prayer. God answers our prayers
2. It is not the rewards of prayer. In the Bible we have plenty of examples of miracles as a result of prayer
3. The main challenge in prayer is the the practice of prayer itself.
Comparing a sermon process with prayer: The main challenge of the whole sermon process
1. It is not the preparation
2. It is not the writing of the sermon
3. It is not the theology of the sermon
4. It is not presentation or delivery of the sermon
5. It is not the hearing of the sermon
6. It is the application of the sermon
Just like in the sermon process, the practice of prayer is the main challenge to prayer.
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Survey on spiritual challenges:
Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
a. Pre-occupation with the material things of the world
b. Materialistic solution to our need for God
c. Instead of spending time with God in prayer, we spend most of our time on things that will someday perish.
d. Instead of going to God for solution to our problems we go to the material things of the world to solve our problems.
1) If people have financial problems, people don’t pray to God, they go to their bank.
2) If people need healing, people don’t pray to God, they go to their doctors.
e. Hence, materialism becomes a number one hindrance to spiritual growth. In this case, to prayer.
a. The problem of pride is directly contrary to prayer.
b. Prayer is a symbol of humility
c. Literally, prayer is to prostrate oneself
d. Luke 18:10-14, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
e. We cannot continue to pray as long as we treasure pride wihtin us.
a. The focus of prayer is God, not self
b. In the OT, prayer was often accompanied by a sacrifice. And the ultimate focus of all these sacrifices is God.
c. Daniel’s habit of prayer is an example of this principle.
1) He opened his window towards the temple in Jerusalem and prayed
2) To Daniel, the temple was the house of God. He was directing his prayer to where God was.