Tag Archives: persevering prayer

The Passion to Obtain


There is a desperate cry going up from my heart to heaven’s throne.  It’s been growing more intense by the day, to the point where I feel about ready to burst.  It’s the cry for answered prayer.  I need to obtain.

I know what the Scriptures say: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Not in vain … not in vain … not in vain.  I remind myself of that a lot.  And I will be steadfast and unmovable, like Eleazar, one of David’s mighty men, who defended a field full of barley, standing firm, even in weariness, to the point where they had to pry his sword out of his hand when it was over — but he won.  He won.

I remind myself constantly that Jesus said, in Luke 18:1, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  He also asked, a few verses down from there, “When the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?”  I’m determined, dwelling in the grace of God, that He will find faith in me.

I also focus on Elijah, who persevered through many a hardship to obtain.  His answers finally came, and he is forever held up as an example to the rest of us: “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17, 18).  So simply told in those few words, yet the reality involved great travail for Elijah.  But “the effectual fervent prayer of [that righteous man] availed much” (James 5:16).

And then I remember Moses, who lay on his face before God for forty days and nights, without food or drink, interceding to avert the destruction of Israel — not once, but at least three times, besides the other times of intercession for them.  And I realize I haven’t yet had to pray that deeply.  And I haven’t sweat great drops of blood, as Jesus did.

So, I press on, the passion to obtain the desperately needed answers always burning inside.  The job still needs to get done, and the answers still need to come, whether I feel like throwing in the towel or not.  I won’t — and I will obtain.


Breakthrough Intercession: Why Does It Take so Long?

There are numerous reasons why breakthrough into our prayer answers often takes time.  Daniel prayed and fasted for twenty-one days before he heard from heaven.  At the end of that time, an angel appeared to him and explained, “… From the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come because of your words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days.  But Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there with the kings of Persia(Daniel 10:12, 13).

“The prince of the kingdom of Persia” refers to an evil spirit that rules over Persia (modern Iran).  There are many things we will not perfectly understand about the invisible world until we get to heaven.  If we only knew how much of what happens in our personal lives and even over regions and countries is due to activity in the spirit realm!  When we strive hard in prayer for a desired breakthrough and its coming is delayed and delayed again, often it is because of demonic resistance.  One thing we must clearly understand: the more important the thing we are interceding for is to the Kingdom of God, the greater opposition we will face in the spirit realm.

Some of us are far more powerful intercessors than we think.  We have been praying for awakening and transformation at the city, regional, or national levels for a long time, yet we seem to see more failure than victory, although we’ve been applying our utmost earnestness without letting up.  Take heart!  The prayers are reaching heaven and the results will come.  It’s got nothing to do with you being inept or ineffective in your intercession.  It’s got everything to do with how stiff the demonic opposition is.  The adversary does not give up his territory casually.  He’s planning on staying entrenched, taking his own potshots, hoping to wear you down until you give up and blame yourself for defeat.  Don’t give him the satisfaction!  2 Corinthians 2:14 asserts, “Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ ….”  There is certain victory for the one who doesn’t quit.

Maybe you’re not praying for a region.  Your focus has been to pound heaven for the salvation of just one person.  Perhaps you stand alone in the gap for your pastor.  There can be just as much resistance from hell over these seemingly smaller arenas of influence, and you may wonder why it’s so tough.  You don’t know how pivotal that one unsaved person or that one pastor may be in the whole plan of God.  I doubt if Hudson Taylor’s mother had any idea that the fervency with which she prayed for her son’s salvation, simply because she loved her boy, would impact the entire nation of China one day through his ministry.  

Another reason breakthrough sometimes takes a while is because we have to come up to a certain level of faith.  We must overcome doubt and worry, and pray from our throne room position.  Ephesians 1:17 through 2:7 talks at length about this position, particularly Ephesians 2:6: “and has raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  Please see my posts on The Worry Factor and Building Our Faith for a more detailed discussion of these matters.

In addition, waiting for the answer builds desire, which in its turn increases desperation.  There is something about determined desperation which God finds irresistible.  He loves to answer the hungry heart.

He wishes to take us up to His level of compassion for the ones we are interceding for.  The more we pray for them, the more we love them.  We are built into the likeness of Jesus as we intercede in partnership with Him.  The development of true compassion within us is a process.

Yet another reason intercessory breakthrough takes time is because God is in the business of raising up a Church of warriors.  He wants to make us strong.  Psalm 18:32-40 speaks of  this:

It is God who clothes me with strength, and makes my way perfect. … He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms.  You have also given me the shield of your salvation ….  You have enlarged my steps under me, so that my feet did not slip.  I have pursued my enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again until they were consumed.  I have wounded them so that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.  For you have clothed me with strength for the battle: you have subdued under me those that rose up against me.  You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I might destroy those who hate me.

Adversity strengthens us.  Each test that we pass makes us capable of taking on a bigger prayer task the next time around.  We pass from victory into greater victory.

If the struggle has been long, take heart.  God will see to it that you receive your desired answer if you will persevere.  And you will become a mighty warrior.  It’s worth the battle.

Next time:  Tips for making it through

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Next — Breakthrough Intercession: Tips for Making It Through 


Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries


Breakthrough Intercession: Perseverance = Breakthrough (cont.)

… Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and will say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves [of bread],  for a friend of mine who is on a journey has just come, and I have nothing to put before him.”  

And he from within will answer, “Do not disturb me; the door is now closed, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and supply you [with anything].”

 I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence {and} insistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  

So I say to you, ask {and} keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek {and} keep on seeking and you shall find; knock {and} keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks {and} keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks {and} keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks {and} keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.Luke 11:5-10 (Amplified)

Jesus was not suggesting, in this passage, that God doesn’t want to be bothered with our prayers and only gives in because He is tired of our nagging.  He was encouraging us to be bold in our persistence and thereby receive.

You’ve probably heard the teaching that if we have real faith, we will only ask once for something, and it will be done.  Any continual asking for the same thing reveals a lack of faith in us.  There is a place for the ask-only-once principle.  There are times that we suddenly break through, we know it, and we feel no further urge to pray.  We “know that we know that we know” we have received, and we rest peacefully in that knowledge until the answer manifests itself.

But Jesus’ teaching, both in the Luke 18 story of the widow’s persistence and in the above passage, indicates that continual asking until we receive is very acceptable in Father’s eyes.  Persistence in prayer demonstrates great faith just as much as praying once and believing for the answer does.  It is a matter of using different prayer tactics in different situations.

The Bible teaches quite a bit about the principle of persistent asking in order to receive.  Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, we read of God’s people prevailing through relentless crying out to Him.

Elijah decreed a three-and-a-half year drought after “earnestly praying that it might not rain” (James 5:17) and then received rain for Israel again after intensely pressing God for it seven times (1 Kings 18:41-45).  James holds him up as an example to the rest of us: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).  

Hebrews 6:15 says of Abraham, “After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.”  Daniel fasted and prayed for twenty-one days before he received his breakthrough (Daniel 10).  The Syrophoenician woman pressed Jesus on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter until she received her answer, despite no apparent encouragement from Jesus and plenty of discouragement from His disciples.  And Jesus commended her for her great faith (Matthew 15:21-28).  Hebrews 5:7 tells us that even Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears … and was heard in that he feared.” 

Prevailing for breakthrough takes a lot of energy, and sometimes takes a lot of time as well.

Twenty-five years ago, I sat under the teaching of a powerful intercessor who had time and again demonstrated her ability to receive desired answers to prayer.   She was asked, “When I haven’t gotten an answer, and I’ve been praying a long time, how do I know when it’s time to quit praying and give up?”  The intercessor-teacher was emphatic in her answer.  “You don’t quit until you have received the answer or God has spoken a resounding ‘No!'”

Her counsel has stayed with me through all these years.  I have further come to the conclusion that the times when God does say no to persistent intercession are extremely rare.  It is the Holy Spirit Himself Who is the impetus behind such enduring prayer.  If we are submitted to the Lord, and we’re not praying exactly right for something, He turns our understanding until we do know how to pray correctly.  If we were totally off in what we were praying for in the first place, our flesh could not easily sustain the drive to pray.  We would feel the urge to pray die out long before we had wasted much precious energy on a false desire.  It is only the rebellious person who prays on and on in a wrong direction without perceiving the Lord’s check in his spirit.  And this only happens after multiple times of refusing to yield to the Holy Spirit have produced a hardened and deceived heart.

Persist and you will see your breakthrough.  God encourages us to do so:

I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day or night: you who make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, until he establishes, and until he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.Isaiah 62:6, 7

Next time:  Why does it take so long?

Previous — Breakthrough Intercession: Perseverance = Breakthrough
Next — Breakthrough Intercession: Why Does It Take So Long? 


Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries


Breakthrough Intercession: Perseverance = Breakthrough

[Jesus] spoke a parable to them to illustrate that men ought always to pray and not to faint, saying,  

“There was in a city a judge who did not fear God, nor did he regard man.  And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I don’t fear God, nor do I regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will give her justice, so that she doesn’t wear me out by her continual coming.'”    

The Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge is saying.   And shall not God execute justice for his own elect, which cry day and night to him, although he bears long with them?  I tell you that he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?”    — Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told this story because He wanted His followers to know that delays to answered prayer are a normal part of our intercessory experience.  He knew that our natural inclination is to become discouraged and to give up when we do not get prayer results quickly.  A couple of translations put it this way:  “Men ought to pray always and not be cowards!”

Persevering prayer is not for the faint of heart.  If Jesus said not to be cowardly, that’s a hint  that He was talking about coming up against pretty daunting opposition.  Sometimes we deal with circumstances that stare us in the face and seem to scream at us, “Fear!  You have to be afraid!  It’s all coming down!”

Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy to obtain answers.  That’s why, at the end of this passage, He asked if when He returns He will find faith on the earth.  He’s implying that He desires to find faith in us when we intercede — faith that sees the answer instead of the problem and presses through for victory in an I-will-not-be-denied fashion, just as the widow did.

God’s “elect” means His chosen ones.  Yes, chosen ones refers to all those who are believers, but have you ever thought that perhaps the reason you have a particular prayer burden is because God has chosen you specially to carry it?  He chooses certain people for specific tasks because He knows He can count on them to have the right stuff and follow through to completion.  God’s “elect” also could have been translated His “favorites.”  God doesn’t pick just anyone to carry prayer burdens.  There is something about being an intercessor that brings us close to God’s heart.  Those of us who spend our time interceding alongside Jesus, being near to Him and understanding His heart, are favorites, in a sense.

There are some other interesting phrases in this passage.  It is a little confusing to have Jesus say that God “bears long with them” and then turn around and say He answers “speedily.”  Some translations say He is “long-suffering [patient and forbearing] towards them,” while others indicate that it just plain means He takes a long time to answer.  When you are in the middle of an anguish to obtain, any amount of wait for fulfillment seems long.  What God considers a speedy answer may not always feel that way to us!  But He gets the job done in time, and that’s what’s important.

Jesus mentions that it is the person who “cries day and night to Him” who receives the coveted answer.  Desperation catches the attention of God.  Like it or not, it’s a Kingdom fact that sometimes we do not break through until we arrive at a level of fever-pitch desperation.  When a continual “day and night” intercession takes hold in us, we’re going to get the desired result.  I suspect the reason is because such desperation is fueled by the Holy Spirit Himself.  He is the power behind our determination, and He intends to see us through to completion.

I’d like to continue examining this perseverance/breakthrough correlation next time.

Previous — Breakthrough Intercession: Building Our Faith
Next — Breakthrough Intercession: Perseverance = Breakthrough (cont.) 


Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries