Prayer Perseverance: Timing is everything
Upon waking that morning, my very first thought was strangely clear to me – “someone prayed for me last night.” I was away at a conference and through an intense schedule had developed a severe bronchial infection. I could not sleep for the coughing and that previous day had been evident that my condition was worsening. It is not often that I distinctly know that I have been the topic of intercession without my knowledge but that morning was vivid – God acted as a result of praying saints. Though my prayers were constant, that was the first night in a week’s time without the disturbing cough which rendered sleep impossible. At breakfast, my friend came to me and asked how I was feeling. I shared about the successful night. She smiled. She told me that I was prayed over as I went to my room and then the Lord woke her in the middle of the night to pray once more. My lungs cleared of infection within a day and I returned home healthy.
Last Sunday, a soldier in our corps who has suffered immeasurably with pain in his back and legs, confounding all medical tests, long bound to a walker and crushed in spirit, stood up at the end of the meeting and walked, without aid, up the stairs of the platform, raised his arms up in the air (something he hasn’t done in a long time) and told the congregation that he woke up on Friday morning to the full function of his limbs, surprising a corps family who have lingered in prayer on his behalf for years!
What we both knew for certain was that with persistent prayer something extraordinary happened and we discovered it upon our waking moments.
When we pray with persistence we seem to be looking to the heavens for God’s immediate response: so like children who want fast action to their nagging. It almost seems that God in His wisdom waits for that moment of stupor, the first waking thought planted by the Holy Spirit’s whisper that God has authored and acted on His response in His timing, leaving us with the knowledge that only He could have done this very thing.
What we often forget is timing is everything and faith is a process.
Andew Murray wrote, “Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest. We cannot easily understand why the Lord, who so loves, should have to be petitioned time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes.” He goes on to say it is prayer’s greatest difficulty in the ‘believing’ (faith) prayer. When our repeated prayers go unanswered, it is very easy for our lazy flesh, with the pious appearance of submission, to think that we have to stop praying because God has some secret reason for withholding His answer. This is how man thinks but is it God’s thought? Perhaps it has everything to do with His timing and our spiritual development in the process of persistence.
At first it is a wrestling and then we remember faith as His powerful tool to calm us down, help us focus and bring us through the process. It is a discovering more of Who He is during our desperate times and coming to grips with our poor timing: we pray inconsistently, likened to a roller coaster in up and down times. In frantic states, we pray for immediacy and sometimes it is in the journey of faith prayers that we are more spiritually formed. Don’t let delay shake your faith, for it is faith that will provide the answer in time and it will conquer hindrances in the unseen world. God needs time with us, giving Him full influence by just being in His presence in prayer. Give your Father time and He will perfect what concerns you. God will lead us from faith to vision and we will awake to see His Glory.