Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.
It's nice to get back to our study this week. We're about halfway through the book now (31 lessons total) and there are still so many good things ahead of us.
In lesson sixteen, Dr. Murray again visits the idea of persevering prayer as he did in chapter eight. In that chapter the focus was on the stretching and building of our faith and our friendship with God, while in this chapter we focus on the will of God to answer us in the right time.
Using Luke 18:1-8 again, we revisit the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent woman. But today we will focus on verses 7-8 (using KJV in keeping with the book):
7And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Dr. Murray explains:
He will avenge them speedily, the Master says. The blessing is all prepared; He is not only willing but most anxious to give them what they ask; everlasting love burns with the longing desire to reveal itself fully to its beloved, and to satisfy their needs. God will not delay one moment longer than is absolutely necessary; He will do all in His power to hasten and speed the answer.
But why, if this be true and His power be infinite, does it often last so long with the answer to prayer? And why must God’s own elect so often, in the midst of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? ‘He is long-suffering over them.’ ‘Behold! the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being long-suffering over it, till it receive the early and the latter rain.’ The husbandman does indeed long for his harvest, but knows that it must have its full time of sunshine and rain, and has long patience. [...] And it is the Father, in whose hands are the times and seasons, who alone knows the moment when the soul or the Church is ripened to that fulness of faith in which it can really take and keep the blessing. [...] He is the long-suffering One, and answers speedily.
Again and again we are brought back to trust.
Do we trust that the Father is coming with His answer in the right time? Can we have the faith to pray in the dark, believing that whatever He is doing in the silence it is good?
There may be in these around us, there may be in that great system of being of which we are part, there may be in God’s government, things that have to be put right through our prayer, ere the answer can fully come: the faith that has, according to the command, believed that it has received, can allow God to take His time: it knows it has prevailed and must prevail. In quiet, persistent, and determined perseverance it continues in prayer and thanksgiving until the blessing come. And so we see combined what at first sight appears so contradictory; the faith that rejoices in the answer of the unseen God as a present possession, with the patience that cries day and night until it be revealed. The speedily of God’s long-suffering is met by the triumphant but patient faith of His waiting child.
We must be courageous! If we have submitted ourselves to the will of God and are praying as He leads us, we can have full faith to continue to ask our Father for an answer.
...let us not give way to these fears. Let us learn to give God time. God needs time with us. If we only give Him time, that is, time in the daily fellowship with Himself, for Him to exercise the full influence of His presence on us, and time, day by day, in the course of our being kept waiting, for faith to prove its reality and to fill our whole being, He Himself will lead us from faith to vision; we shall see the glory of God. Let no delay shake our faith.
We are children of an instantaneous world. How can we ever learn to wait and trust and persevere unless You transform us? I pray that You would - changing our small, impatient faith to something larger and stronger; giving us hope that while we can't see the answer, we know You are ready and waiting for the perfect time to bring forth the harvest. Help us trust You, Lord.
And Lord, for those who are weary and have been praying long: renew their hearts and minds. Refresh the long-suffering faith that has waited and believed and trusted in You. May hope and confidence rise up in their spirits as they give themselves fully to prayer.
Oh Lord, we thank You for Your tender love and Your patient teaching. Continue to make us more like You through this work of prayer.
In Jesus' precious name,
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Seventeen: "I know that Thou Hearest Me Always or Prayer in Harmony with the Being of God"
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series