I Keep Asking
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” Ephesians 1:17 (NIV)
My father raised me to never, never give up. In fact, recently he asserted, “Down two runs with two outs in the home half of the ninth is no time to quit. Many games have been won under greater deficits. Persistence pays.”
No doubt he regretted his teaching when we were on vacation and within range of a gift shop.
Let the whining begin. “Daddy, can I puhleasse get a souvenir?” Never mind that he’d already blessed me with one. I’d convinced myself I needed another.
My husband and I have a son who we’ve affectionately referred to as our “persistent widow.” Why? Because, even at 20, he’s the one who keeps asking and asking and asking, hopeful he’ll get what he’s after. In matters of righteousness, this has been a blessing and demonstrated good character and courage. But on several occasions, we’ve had to say, “Enough.” And he’d stop asking.
Until a more opportune time.
To those in our sphere of influence, it’s wise to teach and enforce the biblical principle to let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No” be no (James 5:12). Otherwise, we’ll do nothing but perpetuate an already self-indulgent culture and lose the respect of those we hope to influence. Yet, there are situations when God invites – and even urges – us to keep asking.
“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1 (NIV) A persistent widow sought justice against her adversary, albeit from a judge who was not a God-fearing man. If for no other reason than to get her to hush up so her begging wouldn’t wear him out, the judge granted her request. Luke 18:5 (Paraphrase mine)
If we carry a particular burden, desire justice, or need salvation, provision, or healing, we must keep asking. Because, unlike the unjust and godless judge referenced in Luke 18, our God loves us perfectly. He is wholly just and promises to deliver answers in His good and perfect timing.
But be warned. Satan will mock our persistent prayers with a wicked chuckle and will take advantage of moments of discouragement. During those days and seasons when the answers we desire haven’t yet arrived, the enemy is determined to silence our persistent prayers. If we let him.
The prophet Isaiah understood the directive to keep asking.
“You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.” Isaiah 62:6b-7
Where the will of God is concerned, not only are we to keep asking, we’re charged with giving God no rest about a matter. Doesn’t sound anything like a flustered, eye-rolling judge. Quite the contrary.
So long as we maintain an unwavering faith in God when we petition Him, there is great purpose and power in persistent prayer. Let’s not quit when weariness sets in at the 25-mile mark of a marathon or, as my father has taught, when we’re down two runs with two outs in the home half of the ninth. Not only will persistence change our hearts to be more like Jesus, but the recipient of our prayers will be forever grateful.
Enough Already – Crosswalk the Devotional – April 24
by John UpChurch, crosswalk.com
“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:38-39
I knew I’d feel inadequate, but once they slapped the Journeyman mic on me and the congregation sauntered in, the word inadequate became inadequate. Over my head, crazy, off my rocker—those shot through my mind a time or two.
Yes, I had notes. Yes, I’d practiced. Yes, I’d taken public speaking courses. But none of those really prepares you to face a congregation on Sunday morning. Nothing gets you ready to reach into Scripture and yank out the good stuff. You’re dealing with potent material here, the kind of thing you don’t want to get wrong. And out there are the faces of those who may never come back through the door of a church again.
And that’s how my first sermon started. Actually, I don’t remember much of it. It just kind of started and then ended. If there weren’t a recording, I don’t think I’d even know what I said. But, alas, said recording does exist (no chance of being linked here), and the final verdict is… let’s just say mixed. At least no one left, and given the size of the church, I would have noticed.
In many ways, I felt like that formerly demon-possessed man whom Jesus told to go tell it on the mountain. Jesus didn’t give him much in the way of lessons or practice. He just sent the man home to talk about God healing him. And as far as we know, the man went and did just that. Since it made it into the gospel accounts, I’m chalking that up as a success. All the man needed to know was that Jesus healed him, and—boom—he started sharing the good news.
Too many times, I’ve been shut down by the notion that I need to know more before I can say more. I can’t tell this person about Christ because I haven’t finished my study on Galatians. I can’t share how God changed me because I only spent 15 minutes in prayer this morning. I can’t start a small group in my house because I’m not the perfect husband or dad.
It’s hard for me to say, “Enough already.” I know enough already to preach a sermon, even if I’ll keep learning and growing for years. I know enough already to share that God wrenched me out of depression, even if I don’t know how to answer every question about the Bible. I know enough already to share my home, even if I’m still working on keeping my smartphone off during family time.
After all, I know enough to know that Christ is the one who does the saving, not my faulty words.
Scripture Reading — John 15:1-17
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. . . .” — John 15:4
We have grapevines in our backyard, and we often need to cut back the tendrils—threadlike spirals that help the plant attach to supports while it climbs. When we have cut the tendrils, we notice two things: moisture steadily drips from the vine where we made the cut, and the cut-off tendrils begin to wilt right away.
In our reading for today, Jesus describes something similar. He describes himself as a vine, and he says we are like the vine’s branches. This is a way of communicating the intimate connection between us and Christ. He is the source, and whoever remains in him will bear the fruit of his love. But if we do not remain in him, we will be like a branch cut off by the gardener, and we will quickly wither and die.
Jesus gives us this illustration while he is talking about our top priority in living for God in this world—that is, to love one another as he has loved us, and to share his love with everyone around us. As we do that, we bear good fruit for the world to enjoy—and all of this is for God’s glory. Jesus also says that in this world we will face troubles, but because we remain in him, we need not be afraid. The message is clear: we cannot control the outcome of anything, but God is in control—so we don’t need to live in fear about what might happen. We can simply remain in him, and we can see what he will do in and through us.
Loving Lord, where would we be without your presence? Thank you for every breath and for every good thing we receive through you. Help us to remain in you. In your name, Amen
“If sometimes the cloud remained a few days … they remained camped … When the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out.” – Numbers 9:20-21 NASB
Like many people today, some Israelites must have wanted their lives to be more predictable. They probably wanted to know what to expect from day to day. How long would they stay in each place? When would they leave? Where would they go?
But God wanted to teach them that He would not tell them what was going to happen in advance. They had to be ready to move “when the cloud was lifted.” That could be in the morning or evening. They might stay in a place “two days or a month or a year” (v. 22). They could not predict what would happen in the future. Every day was a new day, and every situation was fresh.
This same principle applies to you. You might want to know more about what will happen in the future, especially with the uncertainties created by recent political and health crises. You may want to plan your life and know when your prayers will be answered or when things will change. All God promises is that He will lead you every day. Each day is a new experience with Him.
Be ready to obey Him and follow Him today, no matter where He leads. He may have directed you in some ways in the past, but this does not mean that He will lead you in the same way in the future. Seek Him every day for His fresh Word for you.