Persistent Prayer

Persistent Prayer

Bryan Jones |

Through a story in Luke 18, Jesus shows us that we are called to persistently pray until God answers.

Jesus at the Center of Our Story
Persistent Prayer • Message 4
Bryan Jones
April 28, 2024

A. Introduction

You know, I was reflecting on the story of one of the great Christians, Charles Finney, a preacher whom God used to win countless souls to Jesus, and I was struck by something He said. For a portion of his life, he struggled with prayer…

And in his biography, he shared one of his struggles: He was at a prayer meeting, and the group asked if they could pray for them…  and listen to this response…


On one occasion, when I was in one of the prayer meetings, I was asked if I desired that they should pray for me! I told them no because I did not see that God answered their prayers. I said, “I suppose I need to be prayed for, for I am conscious that I am a sinner, but I do not see that it will do any good for you to pray for me, for you are continually asking, but you do not receive.
Charles Finney 


Now, little did he know that he was the answer to their prayer. God would use his life in a mighty way, and he was the answer to their prayers.

But it made me think of how difficult and fruitless prayers can seem at times… and if you are struggling with prayer, wanting to dive deeper then this talk is for you… if you have a perfect prayer life, then this won’t be as much for you!

But I want to give some principles for those frustrated, uncertain about prayer, discouraged, or just wanting to go deeper in prayer!


B. Persistent Prayer


1. God’s will is for you to persistently pray until He answers. (Luke 18:1-4, 7b. C/R: Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 22:41-42)

  • Persist


One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.  “There was a judge in a certain city,” He said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman [Greek word for woman in mother-in-law] is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Luke 18:1-4 (NLT)


Notice Jesus is telling this parable to call us to persistent prayer… aggressive prayer… not giving up….

Listen, this verse doesn’t teach that we annoy God… it’s the opposite; it’s to show if an evil man (who doesn’t love God or people) gives good gifts… that your Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts.

But then there seems to be a whole other way we are called to pray, which creates a conflict.


  • Surrendering prayer.


He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.”

Luke 22:41-42 (NLT)


Notice He is surrendering… and I hear a lot of people ask God one time, and then they say hey, not my will but Yours…

The problem with that is the parable, where Jesus calls us to be persistent…

God’s will is for you to persistently pray until He answers.

In the garden, Jesus prayed and asked God how many times for there to be another way? He didn’t just roll in and say hey, whatever Your will is… He prayed and didn’t give up, and then God spoke. How do I know that?

Think about what Jesus prayed: not My will but Yours… that means somewhere, God had to tell Him or remind Him what His will was…

I fear from that story… we use that as a way to give up on prayer… But God’s will is that you keep on asking until He says yes, no, or not yet… then you pray: God, Your will be done…

Let me say this… Some of you, especially men, are with people who are way better-looking than you. The other day, I saw a picture of Steph and me in high school, and I thought there was no one who could tell me God doesn’t exist for me to land a girl like this… Listen, some of you say it’s a blessing that we are together. It's not a blessing; it’s a miracle because you aren’t even in her league…

Now, I say this to say, not always, but in a lot of stories, there is always one of them who has to pursue, bribe, and wear down the other one, and after a while, they start to feel that connection. Simply put, a lot of us didn’t say, God, if it is Your will, let me get this person… your motto is there’s no escape… which is both creepy and beautiful… am I right?

My point is don’t give up asking in prayer until God answers.


“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)


Did you notice that it says: keep on asking… Keep on seeking? You don’t quit asking until He speaks…


“So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?”

Luke 18:7b (NLT)


God says to be persistent until He answers.

Sometimes it does seem to us that God is reluctant to answer our prayers. Yet the delays in prayer are not needed to change God, but to change us. Persistence in prayer brings a transforming element into our lives, building into us the character of God Himself. It is a way that God builds into us a heart that cares about things the same way He does. Too many prayers are like boy’s runaway knocks, given, and then he is away before the door can be opened.

Charles Spurgeon


God has called us to keep praying… which brings me to my next point on prayer… which is simple but bears saying…


2. Prayer is hard work. (Luke 18:1)

Prayer is hard work because three parts of the human being are engaged in prayer: There is the understanding, by which we work intelligently; there is the heart, but which we labor willingly; there is the will, by which we labor determinedly.




You don’t have to understand all this, but understand prayer involves your whole being… you have to know how to pray, you have to have a heart that is connected and wants to pray, and you have to not give up.

Listen, I have never had to put my heart into taking out the trash. I have never had to intellectually understand how my food was made to enjoy it… but prayer involves your mind, your heart, and your will.

You can choose to show up… but if your heart isn’t in, it doesn’t seem to work right… Your heart and will can be into it, but if you don’t understand how to pray or God's heart, it doesn’t seem to work….

Prayer requires all of us, maybe more than anything else we do…

I think sometimes I’ve failed to communicate my struggles in prayer… God does speak to me. I have never heard Him audibly… but He speaks to my mind and heart…

And when I stand on stage and say God spoke to me, I think I paint an untrue picture of my prayer life…

The amount of work I have to do each morning to quiet my mind and be present is wild… most of the time, it's me going, God, I want to be available to You. I wonder what I'm going to have for lunch. Why did I ever get that haircut in college? Then I’m googling famous people with that haircut. How old are you when your hair starts to turn grey… and then, 15 minutes later, I'm reading about Rogaine instead of spending time with God. This isn’t just hypothetical. This has happened to me… my point is… I don’t just wake up dialed in… It’s hard work to get my mind and heart ready to hear…

Think about the story of Jesus in the garden… How many times do the disciples fall asleep… 3, right? Alright, how many of you are the people that as soon as you hit the pillow, you fall asleep, or as soon as you are riding in a car, you're out? Congratulations, the rest of us hate you.

Probably the reason the disciples in that spot could fall asleep means Jesus was wrestling in prayer for hours… I say wrestling because blood was flowing from Him, and He shared how overwhelmed He was…

Jesus modeled that to get to that centered place, that peaceful place, it's hard…

The enemy wants you to think there is something wrong with you when, in reality, you’ve just had the wrong perspective. Prayer is hard work!

In a culture of fast-moving, pushing everything down, and instant gratification, prayer is completely counter-cultural to our way of life.

Go back to verse 1.


One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

Luke 18:1 (NLT)


Would Jesus have to tell you not to give up if it were easy? No one on planet Earth has had to tell me to never give up eating dessert. They do have to say don’t give up working out…

Why? One is easy, and one is harder for most… I say this to free you up. The greatest prayer warriors in our church would tell you there are days when prayer flows easily, but a lot of days, it’s a little more work to press in.


3. You must understand God’s heart if you are going to pray more. (Luke 18:6-7)

In this story, the judge, many thought, was probably a Roman or someone who wasn’t interested in God or the Jewish people…

The point is that Jesus isn’t comparing God to the unjust judge; He is contrasting. He’s showing how different God is from the judge…


Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?”

Luke 18:6-7 (NLT)


Again, He is contrasting, showing the difference.

As important as your prayer life is your understanding of God’s heart towards you…




No Interest in Problem 

Reluctant to Grant Request  

Cold and Agitated by Requests 

Needs to be Convinced  




Loves you and Grieves with You

Loves to Give Good Gifts

Delights in Your Requests

Knows What's Best


Both God and the judge are in a position to give what we and this woman are seeking, but their hearts are wildly different.

I’m asking you not to respond too quickly… but when you read those lists, which side do you resonate with…. Because there are times I think I have misunderstood the heart of God…

Times when I think God is too busy, or I have to convince God… or that He will be bothered by another one of my requests…

I wonder sometimes if it’s not so much we don’t know how to pray, but we don’t know the heart of the One we pray to.


“I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Luke 18:8 (NLT)


The section ends reminding us that unless we know the heart of God and we don’t lose heart and give up praying, we don’t have the kind of faith Jesus is looking for when He returns!


Let’s come down and pray! I think sometimes we treat prayer as a bad thing… If the Apostle Paul or one of the disciples were here and people were offering to pray, I think he’d be the first down here…

But prayer wasn’t designed to be our last resource; it’s supposed to be our first resort. So, every week, we should be filling up this front just asking God to move deeper in our lives, families and community… Let’s start today!

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