Faith & Perseverance!

I'd like to bring out a few points I've noticed about the 'Prayer Of Petition' and look at the places where Jesus expects us to use this prayer

Prayer is one of the weapons that we have in the armour of God.

The sword of the Spirit, the word of God is our short range weapon, but prayer is our long range weapon to bring us spiritual success.

There is a lot that one can say about prayer since there are so many types of prayer but in the time available I'll limit myself to the prayer of petition and what God expects of us as we pray this prayer. And, by illustration we'll look at two incidents in the bible. One I think shows when NOT to use this prayer and the second shows HOW to use it.

Incident 1.

So let's look at the first scripture together in Mark 4:35-40.

One time when Jesus and the disciples were crossing the lake of Galilee a massive storm blew up such that hardened fishermen were scared and turned to Jesus for help. Let's read this together - Mark 4:35-40.

Mar 4:35- 39 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great wind-storm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

So, let's consider this. They woke Jesus up and asked him to do something, because after all He supposedly cared for them!

Then they watched as He went to the front of the boat and rebuked the storm!

The fact that He 'REBUKED' the storm suggests that it was not a natural storm but was driven by evil spirits. This was indeed bad! No wonder they were scared! In fact it's the same word used when Jesus rebuked evil spirits!

But, having done what the disciples asked, Jesus then chided them and asked if they still had no faith!

Mark 4:40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

He expected them to behave differently in these circumstances. Have you ever wondered why?

Then let's analyse the train of events together.

Seeing a problem they turned to God (I.e. they woke up Jesus). Then they prayed for God's intervention (they asked Jesus to fix it as, after all, he cared for them). Next they watched as Jesus walked to the front of the boat quell the storm, and He did!

Actually, most people think that sound s like great faith?

They knew who to go to; they did not rely on themselves but relied on God; and in response, God answered their prayer! So why does Jesus say, “Have you no faith”?

Now, I'll give you my take on why Jesus said that!

First of all at the start, before the journey began, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side”. He then got in the boat and went to sleep. So, if God tells you, “Let's go across to the other side”. What would you say was God's will? (Pause). Any of the children? God's will is that you go to the other side!

Our expectation should be that whatever God says to us through His manual, the bible, or directly, then He will fulfil it. We can take it to the bank!

Secondly, having been given authority by Jesus to heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons, and knowing God had declared that they were going to the other side, Jesus, I believe, would expect them to believe God, recover their calm, and calm the storm themselves with their faith!

Now God will help His children who come to Him in that mode, as we are green and don't realize our position in Christ very often. He is rescuing us as He normally does in His mercy. But if the problem is in an area where God has given us the authority, then it appears that God sees it as a lack of faith on our part not to trust His word and the power and authority that He has given to us to act!

We probably can do a lot more with Jesus in us than we attempt to do each day!

It's true that we can do nothing without Jesus, but believers are never without Jesus.

He said He would never leave us or forsake us.

When we say, “Of course, we asked in faith, I don't understand why nothing has happened”, let's be sure that we are not asking for God to do things which He put in our control, for us to do, using our authority.

When Jesus said “Proclaim the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons, the “You” is understood.

It seems therefore, that where He has given us the authority He expects us to use it, and in those situations God calls believing Him, and doing it ourselves, faith.

Incident 2.

The next incident I want to talk about, with a prayer of petition is in the book of Matthew, Chapter 15.

Jesus used this incident to show us the errors of three myths that people have about praying to God, but where we are nevertheless to use the prayer of petition. So let's look at Chapter 15, verses 21- 28 section by section.

Matthew 15:22-23 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon. 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, Send her away, for she is crying out after us.

1. When Jesus did not answer the lady's prayer immediately his disciples asked him to send her away to stop her bothering them. There is a lesson here for us when we pray for others. If we do not see a quick answer we must not become embarrassed or think it makes US look bad so we won't do this again. It's not about US, it's God's reputation at stake, not ours! And He can look after Himself!

We, like this woman though, must not let a delay in receiving an answer from God make us think that He is not listening or doesn't want to be bothered. This is myth No 1.

To use Old Testament parlance - "If the sky seems like brass, keep praying in faith. God IS listening! He maybe just wonders if we are serious!

When she continued calling out to Him, Jesus spoke.

Matthew 15:24-25 He answered, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me”.

2. When the lady carried on praying, Jesus said that He was only sent to the tribes of Israel. We likewise can be led to think that God is the God of only a few favoured people. That's not true. Jesus has reconciled the world to God. This good news is for everyone. We all have access to God's grace through faith in Jesus.

So has someone told you that "You don't qualify for one of God's blessings", or “That promise doesn't apply nowadays?”. That is myth No 2, but you ARE included.

Just keep on praying, “Lord help me!” Jesus has qualified you and God has already provided all that you need, in Christ Jesus as He tells us in Philippians 4:19

When she continued, like we should, Jesus spoke again...

Mat 15: 26- 28 And he answered, It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. She said, Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered her, O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire. And her daughter was healed instantly.

3. The third myth is that the blessings of God's provision are limited and not enough for everyone. Jesus told the lady this saying also, to see her reaction. Did you notice Jesus' play on words as He told her she was in the wrong nation?

It was like a strong forehand in tennis. But she was up to it and returned it with a good backhand! She said that, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs from the Master's table", I would suggest using the same play on words.

God's provision is for Jew and Gentile. It's for all!

When Jesus fed the 5000 with just five loaves and three small fishes there were twelve full baskets left over after all the people of Israel had eaten all that they could. And, there was one basket left over 'symbolically' from every tribe to bless the nations! Remember how God had told Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him?

So, don't give up praying because of what people may say!

God has already made provision for all the nations and all Israel. You're covered!

This woman had not been given authority by Jesus to heal the sick, but hearing about Jesus she put faith in Him. In situations where we do not have the authority we are to pray the prayer of petition in faith and with perseverance.

We have been given the same Faith as the Apostle Peter, so have faith in God. You can check this out by looking at 2 Pet 1:1.

And, whatever may appear to be against us, we are to persevere like that lady. And note that perseverance does not of itself mean for months or years !

God IS listening, show you mean it; Jesus HAS qualified us, show you know this; and God has made provision to bless all of us, show you trust Him!

Let's believe Him and in faith do those works that He has called and equipped and anointed us to do.

And, where He has given us the authority let's use it and 'command' as Jesus did, according to His will.


Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.