We live in a culture where the desire for instant gratification reigns. That all too easily carries over to our lives as Christians. How easy it is to stop praying for something or someone if after a while of making that request, God still hasn’t granted it.
I all too often am tempted to fall into that trap. Time and time again throughout this mission of praying for Jahar, I’ve wanted so badly for God to do something extraordinary and miraculous that would lead Jahar to Christ right then. It’s been over eight months since I made the commitment to pray for Jahar daily, and to my knowledge, nothing big has happened. Sometimes that gets frustrating.
But then I’ve got to get to thinking that just because nothing has changed over eight months of prayer does not mean that nothing will ever change.
In Luke 18, Jesus gives us a parable that runs counter to the impatience that we so often feel in our fast-paced lives that yearn for instant gratification:
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? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Simply put, if an unjust, unkind, and unloving judge answers the persistent requests of a lowly, unpowerful widow, how much more will the just, kind, and loving Judge of the universe (God) answer the persistent requests of His children?
Sure, sometimes God will answer our prayers immediately or at least relatively quickly. Evangelist George Müller wrote that over the course of his life, God answered over 30,000 of his prayer requests within the same day or even the same hour of his prayers. You would think then that Müller knew little about the power of persistent prayer. Hardly so. In one of his sermons, he related his powerful experience with persistent prayer:
In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without one single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God, and prayed for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years more passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remain unconverted. The man to whom God in the riches of His grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer, in the self-same day or hour in which they were offered, has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these two individuals, and yet they remain unconverted; for next November it will be thirty-six years since I began to pray for their conversion. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer.
Sometime after this sermon, the fourth friend became a Christian. Müller died without seeing his 52 years of prayers for the fifth friend come to fruition. His prayers were not in vain, however, as soon after his death, the last friend was saved.
How many of us are willing to pray daily for someone for a year, let alone 52 years? Yet, persistent prayer is something we are called to as Christians.
Jahar might not be saved in the upcoming days, weeks, months, or years; it might take decades. Maybe we, like Müller, will have to pray for 52 years before we see Jahar become our brother in Christ. Let us not lose heart and let us continue to cry out in humble faith to God, pleading with Him to open the doors by which Jahar will come home to Him.