In our last post within the Anatomy of a Prayer series, we examined two aspects to the anatomy of prayer, the quality and the content of prayer. Today, we’ll delve into another aspect, the persistence of prayer.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances.
Within verses 147-149 of Psalm 119, David continued his approach that permeated the entirety of Psalm 119. A beginning-to-end approach. Morning to evening. Alpha to Omega. This entire Psalm is an acrostic in the Hebrew language. Each section represented a letter within the Hebrew alphabet.
Even within the smaller sections of the Psalm, David utilized this beginning-to-end approach. David’s desire to commune with God is evident within his writing. He called out to God in the morning and anticipated the evening so that he could devote time to meditating on God’s word, God’s character, God’s actions.David rose in the morning, seeking God. He anticipated the evening when he could set aside time to focus his entire mind on God. He had a persistent awareness and dependency on God. Click To Tweet
Persistence of Prayer
David’s prayer was constant. Morning and evening, he constantly sought God. He constantly waited for the word of God. In a sense, David rested in what God would say. There is a great deal of humility within that idea.
The New Testament also shows us the power of persistence. When we read the parable of the persistent widow, we see Jesus’s own call to persistent prayer. In this story, he told of an unrighteous judge and a widow who was seeking justice. She cried out for justice so persistently that she exhausted the unrighteous judge, causing him to give the justice she was looking for.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus then paralleled this unrighteous judge to himself. Jesus told us that if this unrighteous judge would finally grant the widow’s request because of her perseverance, then how much more will God—the Righteous Judge—respond to our requests?
This is an invitation. An invitation that says, “If you will be persistent in your praying, you will receive what you are asking for.” But sadly, the attitude of the modern Church is, “I prayed once and now I’m going to go about my business.” This is not persistent prayer.
Beyond lacking perseverance, this attitude also reveals our own deep deficiency. We lack a faithful relationship with our heavenly Father evidenced through a persistent prayer life. God wants his children to call on him. He desires our communion with him. He commands persistence.The parable of the widow & unrighteous judge is an invitation to persistent prayer. Sadly, the attitude of the modern Church is, “I prayed once, now I’m going to go about my business.” Click To Tweet
Communion with God
We’ve established that persistent prayer is an invitation to us from the God of the universe. But, what does it look like? Let’s return to David. In Psalm 57:8, David said:
Awake, my glory!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I love what David does here. In his persistence, he is going morning to night. Beginning to end. He started the day by singing, awakening the dawn with his cries to the God of the universe. This demonstrates a beautiful truth about our relationship with God. Too often, we look at prayer from the angle of waiting. We are waiting on God. Waiting to hear from God. But Scripture is clearly communicating that God is at the same time desiring—and waiting—to hear from us. Within David’s life, we see this back and forth synergistic relationship. David waits on God but at the same time he is providing what God is waiting for, praise and communion.
We see the same concept in our initial passage. Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words.” David is performing his role while waiting for God. Similarly, in Psalm 5:1-3, David said, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”
David knew that any healthy relationship needs two-way communion. Why did God walk with Adam and Eve in the garden? Because he desires this two-way communion with his people. He desires and calls us into a two-way experience where we can walk, talk, and come together with the King of the universe.Within David’s life, we see a back & forth synergistic relationship with God. David waited on God but at the same time he provided that which God was waiting for--communion. Click To Tweet
Does God hear our Prayers?
God desires two-way communication. Our responsibility is to call out to him and wait on him. But how do we know that he hears us when we call? John 9:31 provides a framework for how we are heard by God.
We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.
In Matthew 12:46-50, we glimpse another aspect of this framework.
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
God hears his family. And his family consists of those who are surrendered to his word and his ways. God listens to the godly person who does his will. This is a powerful and sobering truth.
In 1 Peter 3:12, Peter quoted another Psalm (Psalm 34), writing, “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
A central theme wrapped into the fabric of our communion with God is our responsibility to walk humbly before him. This principle is peppered throughout the entirety of Scripture—God rejects the proud but gives grace to the humble. Consider how 1 John 5:15 ties into this idea:
And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
What is John implying? God will hear us and grant our requests if we are a humble, submitted people. This is the same idea that David communicated in Psalm 66:18-20.
If I regard wickedness in my heart,
The Lord will not hear;
But certainly God has heard;
He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer
Nor His lovingkindness from me.
If David were not walking humbly, if he were not submitted to God, if he had cherished sin within his heart, then he knew God would not have listened to him. We see David’s “all-in” heart through his prayer. He refused to cherish any sin within his heart, knowing he could not harbor sin and also be “all-in” with God.We see David’s “all-in” heart through his prayer. He refused to cherish any sin within his heart, knowing he could not harbor sin and also be “all-in” with God. Click To Tweet
The Humility of Prayer
Both the Old and New Testaments teach the humility with which we must approach God, but it is often something that we forget as we come to God in prayer.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your ordinances. (Psalm 119:149)
Notice how David approaches God—with a heart of humility. David doesn’t say, “Hear my voice according to my own merit.” No. He rests in the knowledge that God will hear according to God’s own character. David doesn’t say, “Hear my voice because I’m lovable.” No. He understands that God responds to us from his own lovingkindness.
David never focuses on himself at all. Rather, he is focused on the unchanging character of God. Self-focus is a modern problem. David understood that if it were not for the grace, mercy, and lovingkindness of God, not one of us would survive. This should humble every one of us.
This is the only reason we can boldly approach the throne of grace. We would be fools to think we can approach because we deserve to be in God’s presence or because God owes us in some way. No, it is only by God’s own lovingkindness that we can exercise this right.
David boldly approached God through a heart of humility. David cried out for God to revive him while submitting his own wants and desires. David, in his humility, was willingly subject to the heart of God. David asked for God’s intervention according to what? According to God’s ordinances.
This is the heart that says, “Thy will be done, Lord.” This is the New Testament prayer “Thy kingdom come” spilling from the Old Testament king.We would be fools to think we can boldly approach the throne of grace because we deserve to be in God’s presence or because God owes us in some way. #biblestudy Click To Tweet
Seek the Lord
From the Old and New Testaments, we see that righteous prayer is the consistent, constant desire to submit and wait on the will of God while communing with the Father we love. We should be running to the God of the universe, knowing that he is listening to us because of his character, his lovingkindness, and his faithfulness. We must know that God’s answer to us will be in accordance with his word.
This is why David meditated on God’s ordinances in those night watches. He knew from where his salvation would come. We must understand this truth if we desire to discern God’s work in our lives, in our world, and in our time. God’s word communicates his will and the way in which he will answer our prayers. That is a truth we can rest in.Righteous #prayer is the consistent, constant desire to submit to, and wait on, the will of God...all while communing with the Father we love. Click To Tweet
How are you growing in the quality, content, persistence, and humility of prayer? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.