Summary: Through the stories of Abraham and Jacob, this sermon encourages passionate and persistent prayer.
PRAY PASSIONATELY & PERSISTENTLY
Do you want God to grant you mercy in your case? Do you want God to supply your family members’ financial, emotional and spiritual needs while you are separated from them? Do you want God to heal a loved one who is sick? Is there anything you desperately want from God?
God wants us to pray. How does God want us to pray? He wants us to pray passionately and persistently.
God is not angered by passionate persistent prayer–even when we are wrong. In Genesis 18:20-33 we find the story of Abraham’s plea with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. He prays passionately, even questioning God’s justice. “Surely you won’t destroy the righteous with the unrighteous!” he exclaims, indignantly.
How often it is that one person falls into sin and so many that are close to and love him end up suffering. Consider suicide. Often people are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances. Some of those situations are truly horrific. Finally, the person “breaks,” emotionally. In a fit of despair he kills himself. Now the family is left to grapple with guilt, work, and financial hardship. Guilt, because maybe the suicide could have been prevented. Work, because somebody has to make up for the work the person did in the household. Financial hardship because money that the could have earned is no longer available. Add to all of this the normal burden and pain of losing a loved one. So, yes, the righteous often suffer because of the deeds of the unrighteous!
Abraham prays persistently. What if there are 50 righteous people in the area? How about 45? 40? 30? 20? 10?! God honors his request, but it is to no avail. 10 righteous people are not found. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. Neverthe-less, God accepted Abraham’s prayers. God wants us to pray passionately and persistently. We need not fear when we speak with God. He is our Dad, after all.
Another passionate and persistent man of prayer is Jacob. God honors his persistent passionate prayer with blessing. In Genesis 32:22-31 we read of Jacob wrestling with a man all night. Why? He wanted a blessing. He knew the man could give it. The man gives him his blessing, and he realizes he has wrestled with God.
How often have we desperately needed something from God, and so we wrestle with him for it? When I applied to minister with the Bureau of Prisons I was initially told I needed more experience. Most of my eight years of service to God took place before I was ordained. So, I prayed passionately. I said, “God, I am not eating until you tell me what to do.” 11 days later God told me I was to take a church position with a small church. It would mean working full-time for the church, and a second full-time job to pay the bills. It was an option that I did not favor. However, I knew it was God’s will. I wrestled, and I received my answer. As a result, a year and a half later I was approved as a chaplain, and appointed to the FDC. It was not easy, but it was and is good. What is your need today? Wrestle with God. Find your answer!
When Jacob realized who it was he had wrestled with, he was most humbled. Many, who do not know God, wrestle spiritually, only to realize their battle has been with God.
Before you begin your battle, realize that victory can be costly. Be sure you are hungry enough for what you seek. Jacob’s hip is damaged in his struggle. Wrestling implies being willing to endure hardship to gain the prize.
It is amazing that God allows us to win our battles with him. Jacob gets his blessing. His name becomes that of a great nation. Likewise, God answers our prayers, usually beyond our expectations.
Finally, Jesus calls us to passionate and persistent prayer. God responds to passionate persistent prayer the same way any loving father would. In Luke 11:5-13 we discover that sometimes he says yes to get us to quite bothering him. Of course God will not give us something he truly disagrees with. Rather, God often responds as we do with our children, by saying, “Oh ... all right.”
It may seem that God is playing games, when he asks us to put so much energy into our important requests. He is not. Sometimes he holds back to see if we will treasure what we are asking for and be good stewards of it. As an example, my wife and I wanted to buy a house. Since I had not been in full-time paid ministry for long, we did not think our financial history was such that we could qualify to buy it. We talked often about the matter, and came to believe that we needed a place to use for God’s glory. We could use the house as a sanctuary for our family, and a hospitality center for God’s people. Through much prayer, God directed us to wise counsel so that we could qualify and purchase our home.