Equipping Pastors: Don't Give Up on Prayer
As a pastor and leader of the flock, you know you're supposed to pray. And yet, so often, discouraged by unanswered prayer or the perceived inefficacy of our requests to change any of our circumstances, we leave prayers to the last gasps of conscious breath before drifting to exhausted sleep.
On his blog, Sam Storms writes an insightful and encouraging post from his Colossians series, "The Easiest Thing About Prayer", listing seven reasons to persevere in prayers that seem to be met by silence.
The easiest thing about praying is quitting. Giving up seems so reasonable, so easy to justify. It’s always been that way, which is why Paul wrote in Colossians 4:2, “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Persevering in prayer when no one seems to listen strikes many people as a sign of fanaticism, if not mental instability...
I recently saw the film The Island (that’s not a recommendation!) in which unsuspecting clones are nourished and sustained to serve as organ donors for their wealthy sponsors who aspire to live as long as possible. These “folk” know virtually nothing of the outside world or its ways. Two have escaped and are in conversation with a rather strange man who happens to mention “God”.
“What’s ‘God’?” asks one of the clones.
“Oh, well, you know when you close your eyes and ask for something?”
“Well, God’s the one who doesn’t answer you.”
It’s a bad joke, but for many people it rings all too true. People in Paul’s day faced the same temptation to quit that we do. But too much was at stake. Though defeated at the cross, Satan and his demons are still active. The weakness of the flesh abides. The threat of schism in the body of Christ is ever present. Great opportunities to share the gospel are at every turn. So, don’t quit, says Paul! Continue steadfastly in prayer. Keep watch at all times lest you despair. Be thankful for all God has done and will do in response to your petitions.
... I want to briefly address the reasons why a good God who can help often seems not to, or at least not to in accordance with our schedules. There are surely reasons other than these, but here are a few suggestions that I hope will encourage you to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2a).
Dr. Storms notes that endurance in prayer without answers works in us:
- Awareness of our own presumptuousness.
- Cultivation of dependence on God.
- Preparation to receive from God.
- Heightened discernment of impetuous vs. Christ-centered requests.
- Purification of our requests.
- Active Patience.
- A better, bigger, more God-glorifying answer at the opportune time.
Read Sam Storms' full blog. It's lengthy, but you probably could use the encouragement.