I know the feeling. You pray to God for something — likely a very good thing — and it just doesn’t seem to get answered. Meanwhile, it seems that some people almost always get their prayer requests answered. What’s up with that?
Maybe it’s because you’re not investing the time and energy into your prayer to see How to Get the Greatest Return on Your Investment.
Maybe it’s something more.
Lately, I’ve been able to tell some really cool stories of how God has answered our specific prayer requests as we continue this walk of faith into ministry. You know, the kind where we put our request out there and God comes through — just at the eleventh hour — with a phone call or other unexpected answer. The kind of requests that when we pray we’re wondering if we really should be so demanding of our heavenly Father. It almost feels as if our prayer is, well, rude.
Getting Rude with God
But maybe it needs to be. Not rude, necessarily, but at least stubborn, persistent, and — yes — demanding of the promises of God.
The Bible is full of such advice for Christians to be, as the classic saints have called it, importune in our requests to see them answered. Consider this parable from Jesus Himself:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
The widow received her answer because she was rude, by our standards. She persisted in her righteous request until her prayer got answered. And that’s what Jesus told us we should do and not “lose heart.” Like Jacob, who wrestled with God, refusing to let go until he got the blessing, we must grapple with His divine promises. E.M. Bounds says our approach should be the same as Jacob’s:
Prayer in its highest form and grandest success assumes the attitude of a wrestler with God. It is the contest, thrill, and victory of faith; a victory not secured from an enemy, but from Him who tries our faith that he may enlarge it; that tests our strength to make it stronger. [emphasis mine]
Three Tips to Get Your Prayer Requests Answered
Allow me to share three simple keys that I have discovered — not that I have mastered these. I offer them as a fellow student in God’s school of prayer. But I think they have a lot to do with why some people almost always get their prayer requests answered:
You have to ask. Duh. “You have not because you ask not.” “Ask and it will be given.” We’ve heard it all before, but that doesn’t mean we’re actually taking the time to ask for specific answers to specific requests. Only you know if you do. Make time to ask. If not we end up like the husband who can’t figure out why his wife hasn’t prepared dinner at 6 PM like he forgot to ask her to do. Not that I’ve done that, of course. I’m just using a bizarre, imaginary example.
You have to believe that God will answer. “Let him ask in faith, with no doubting… and it will be given him.” “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” Believing — deep within the core of your being — is what faith is all about. And it’s not just belief that He can, but that He will. [See my post Is What You're Attempting for God Too Big to Fail? ] If you want a soul check on this point, ask if you are acting as if God is going to answer or are you focusing on putting contingency plans in place for when he doesn’t answer your prayer requests?
You have to persist in your asking. We are to pray always and not lose heart. Why do some seem to always get their prayer requests answered? They are always praying. Again. And again. It’s not that they drop their prayer package on the doorstep, ring the bell, and run for the woods. They camp out on the heavenly porch, chain themselves to the knob, and beat endlessly upon the door — until God answers their prayer requests.
Whether we like it or not asking is the rule of the Kingdom. “Ask, and you shall receive.” It is a rule that never will be altered in anybody’s case. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the elder brother of the family, but God has not relaxed the rule for Him…. If the royal and divine Son of God cannot be exempted from the rule of asking that He may have, you and I cannot expect the rule to be relaxed in our favor. ~ C.H. Spurgeon
Where does that leave you? Rudely pounding on God’s door or running away embarrassed into the woods? Or is that you I see relaxing under the tree in heaven’s front yard?
What tips on persistent prayer have I missed? What stories do you have of answers to your own ”importune” prayer? Leave a comment to help us all live with abundant faith.