Christians are “insistent” when seeking God’s intervention. However, Believers are usually not “persistent” when it comes to bringing their petitions to the Lord. In other words, Christians often pray with a sense of urgency, but they do not do it for very long. And they fail to utilize patience along with their faith. “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12, NIV). This patience is an active patience, it is not simply waiting, it is actively and consistently doing something until the desired goal is achieved. Persistence can be as important as faith when it comes to answered prayer.
Most Believers desire to have more faith. Faith is one of the major ingredients of a powerful Christian life. The Lord had much to say about faith and its importance in receiving from God; his true followers took notice. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” But the Lord said, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you” (Luke 17:5-6, NASB). The Lord’s disciples asked him to increase their faith, and his response is at first glance puzzling. Jesus often attributed the receiving of miracles to the receiver’s faith. But his answer to his disciples seems to minimize the importance of faith. Jesus stated that the amount of faith that you have is not important. But he did state something profound.
There is a hidden key found in verse 6. Various translations have different wording, but the phrase “you could say” comes from the Greek word elegete. Elegete is a verb, and it is in the “imperfect” tense. A Greek verb in the imperfect tense has an action that is continuous. Based on this fact, we could rewrite Luke 17:6 to read, “But the Lord said, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could continually command this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” Jesus was saying that the amount of faith that you have is not the real issue, the issue is being consistent and persistent with the faith that you have. Jesus even emphasizes this point, using a parable, a few verses later.
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect any person. Now there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect any person, yet because this widow is bothering me, I will give her justice; otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will God not bring about justice for His elect who cry out to Him day and night, and will He delay long for them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8).
This parable shows how persistence is effective even in the worst-case scenario. The Lord presents a poor woman with no social standing and a corrupt and powerful judge who does not respect God or man. This woman’s persistence forced the judge to grant her request. In the case of Christians, we have great value to our Heavenly Father, and he is much more than just. If persistence could deliver this poor widow woman, it most certainly will bring God’s power into the life of his child. But please understand, God is not asking his children to beg him for anything.
Consistent and persistent prayer is not begging God. There is a lot that goes on in the spiritual realm when we pray. If we look at the Book of Daniel chapter 10, we see that God answered Daniel’s prayer request the moment that Daniel prayed, but it took an angel of God 3 weeks to break through with that answer because of demonic opposition. “Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come” (Daniel 10:12-14, NIV). Yes, God could have intervened, but our Father wants his children to exercise power and dominion. God often encourages our spiritual strength by allowing us to fight our own battles. Persistent prayer is about utilizing the power and authority that God has given us to defeat the enemy and release God’s power into our world.
Answered prayer often comes through faith and patience. We come to God in faith with our petitions, and we keep our faith in the spiritual fight until we receive our answer. Having a quick burst of spiritual energy followed by a season of doubt and disgruntlement does not result in answered prayer. But even a small amount of faith, consistently applied, will produce miracles.