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Summary: If prayer is to make a difference it must be persistent

The Power of Persistent Prayer

Matthew 7:7-11

March 11, 2001

Morning Service

Introduction

I. The reality of Prayer

A businessman who needed millions of dollars to clinch an important deal went to church to pray for the money. By chance he knelt next to a man who was praying for one hundred dollars to pay an urgent debt. The businessman took out his wallet and pressed one hundred dollars into the other man’s hand. Overjoyed, the man got up and joyfully left the church. The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, "And now, Lord, that I have your undivided attention . . ."

II. Statistics on Prayer

According to a poll on prayer for Newsweek (3/31/97), the following percentage said:

They ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray -- 82

They ask for strength to overcome a personal weakness -- 75

They never ask for financial or career success -- 36

God answers prayers -- 87

God doesn’t answer prayers -- 51

They believe God does not play favorites in answering prayers -- 82

God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease -- 79

Prayers for help in finding a job are answered -- 73

They believe that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer -- 54

They don’t turn away from God when prayers go unanswered -- 82

III. The key question of prayer

A. The power of prayer is evident

1. We cannot disregard that prayer is indeed a powerful force in the life of the church

2. We cannot disregard the fact that prayer is a powerful part of the lives of many Christians

B. The question that still remains

1. What about me?

2. Why does God seem to really answer the prayers of some people and not others? Why are some people more powerful in prayer?

 Is it their faith? Maybe

 Is it their relationship with God? Maybe

 Is it the way that they pray? (The right words, the right posture or the right time of day) Definitely not

 The answer may well be their persistence – They never gave up

Body

I. The Pattern of Persistent Prayer

A. The impact of prayer

1. The English understanding

a.) These words describing prayer are all verbs (ask, seek, knock) and they imply direct action. Thus we must understand prayer as being active rather than passive

b.) These words also have a natural progression of action from least aggressive too most aggressive. The issue Jesus is raising is one of intensity. If we pray half hearted once or twice a week we shouldn’t expect much from God

2. The deeper Greek meaning

a.) The statement that Jesus is making here is in the Greek imperative, which means that this is a command. When Jesus says this He fully expects every believer to be active in prayer. Prayer is not an option.

b.) Pastors and churches have to get uncomfortable enough to say, “We are not New Testament Christians if we don’t have a prayer life.” Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire p. 50

c.) The way Jesus says these words are also important because they are in the present tense. These are words of continuous action. In English this would read keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking

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