Summary: We must not give up on people if they don’t respond immediately.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
September 29, 2002
Persisting in Prayer Until They are Saved
I Thess. 5:17
INTRODUCTION: At the time Paul wrote these words he was in prison in Rome. You would think that this would have been a down time for him as far as seeing people come to Christ. Paul, however, was able to continue his work not only during the best of times but also in the most unfavorable circumstances in which he found himself. He had a real desire to get the good news out to people because of what the Lord had done in his own life. He had a genuine experience. His life was different now. How could he not tell people wherever he went about how God’s grace had come to him and want them to have it too. Paul had learned how to operate in all kinds of circumstances as he shared his faith, and God honored that commitment as he continued to speak boldly.
Today’s scripture has much to say to us about persisting in prayer until people come to know Christ, but there is much more included in these few verses than we see at first glance . Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture that will help us share our faith more effectively in the week ahead.
1. The Importance of Prayer: The importance of prayer in seeing people come to Christ is often minimized today in our fast-paced society. That is probably why people are not moved by the message. Their hearts have not been prepared first by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to see their need. Don’t need to go to church, don’t need the Lord. I can handle it by myself.
STORY: A group of businessmen were flying in an aircraft when there was a sudden decompression. The oxygen masks fell from the ceiling, and the plane began to scream towards the ground.
One of the men lifted the mask from his face for a moment, and shouted across the aisle, "Hey! Jerry! You used to go to Sunday School when you were a boy! Say a prayer for us! Please!"
"Don’t be stupid!" shouted Jerry. "The last time I prayed was twenty years ago!"
But his business companions insisted that Jerry should pray. "All right," said Jerry. "O Lord, I haven’t bothered You for the last twenty years. And if You get us out of this fix, I promise You, Lord, I won’t bother You for the NEXT twenty years!"
Paul didn’t think he had any need of the gospel either until he was confronted on the Damascus Road that day. His heart had been prepared to receive. Prayer is necesary if we are to see people’s hearts prepared to receive the truth because up until that point they are blinded. II Corinthians 4:3,4 says, “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into them.”
Paul therefore says, “Devote yourselves to prayer
Be earnest in
Be persistent in
Be active in
Be intent on
Do not let prayer slide by in your day. Matthew Henry says, “Keep up your constant time of prayer without being diverted from it by other business.”
STORY: A woman came to a missionary at Bengalore, India, asking him to interfere and prevent a certain native Christian from praying for her any more. When asked how she knew that the Christian was praying for her, she replied, "I used to perform my worship to the idols quite comfortably, but for some time past I have not been able to do so. Besides, he told me at the time that he was praying for my family, and now my son and two daughters have become Christians. If he goes on praying, he may make me, too, become a Christian. He is always bringing things to pass with his prayers. Somebody must make him stop." -- SELECTED
The Thessalonian scripture says to pray continually or pray without ceasing. This does not mean non-stop praying but rather recurring prayer throughout the day--lifting our hearts to God while we are going about our daily routine. You don’t have to have your eyes closed or be kneeling in prayer every time you pray. You can pray when you are driving your car--and you better not have your eyes closed! The point is that prayer should be a spontaneous part of your everyday life--it should be important enough to you that you would be
earnest, persistent, active
Matthew Henry said “Prayer will punctuate one’s daily schedule.” Continue to pray and thank the Lord for answers. Harry Greenwood always said, “Believe you’ve got it before you get it.” Thank the Lord in advance. Pray on rainy days as well as sunny days. Pray on bad days when everything is going wroing for you as well on days when everything is flowing smoothly.