The importance of hanging on

I have been thinking about the importance of hanging on.

The Bible calls it “perseverance”.  As I read the scriptures, I see that the spiritual giants persevered – they hung on when things were bleak.

Like many believers in North America, I am easily disappointed and even discouraged.  Why don’t things happen the way I think they should?

My area of ministry in our church is prayer.  I have some preconceived notions about what should happen when people pray.  I look for instant results.

When things don’t happen the way I think they should, the thought springs to mind that I should move on to something else.

But then I look at Hebrews 11 – the great faith chapter – and I see that answers to prayer are not always immediate.  Sometimes, these dedicated followers of God did not see what God had promised in their lifetimes.  But they hung in there.

That is what God is asking of me: “Be faithful.”

I am convinced that God is moving no matter what the outward circumstances are.  I believe that no prayer is in vain.

It may be that I am blocking communion with God through my own attitude.  In effect, I may be consciously or unconsciously rejecting what God is telling me.

It may be that God has answered “yes” but the answer will arrive later as it did with Daniel in Daniel 9.

Or, it may be that God is answering in a way that is different than I planned – perhaps an even better answer than I could imagine.  Or, it may be that God has answered and I don’t even see the answer.

I am encouraged by the stories of the believers in Hebrews 11.  And I am encouraged, too, by quiet answers to prayer that I see around me.

I think of a church leader I know whose son was going through a rebellious period and he and his wife were heartbroken.  His son has returned to the Lord in a remarkable way after fervent prayer by family and friends.

I think of a friend – a non-believer – who is seriously ill.  My wife and I and some other believing friends have been praying for him.  And today he told me in a phone conversation that he is reading the Bible and thinking about what really matters in life.

God answers prayer.  He is telling me to hang in there.


1 comment so far

  1. Angus on

    I often think of prayer as a conversation or communion with God and like many conversations we have with people around us the end result may not be the achievement of our gaining something or even arriving at an agreement between the two parties but is instead the strengthening of the relationship and of gaining a better understanding of each other. The more we communicate with each other the better we will understand and hopefully respect each other even if there are disagreements. Our primary goal in praying to or maybe we should say “with” God is to engage in a dialogue that brings us closer to Him through better understanding as opposed to a check list of answered prayer items. This is why I tend to discourage people from keeping a list of prayer requests as if to track or score their success at prayer. True success in prayer will be felt internally, spiritually regardless of the percentage of requests granted. That is not to say we shouldn’t recognize and praise God for His works in our life, of course we should, but we don’t want to fall into the trap of gauging our relationship or God’s happiness with us based on how many prayer requests have been answered to our satisfaction.

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