Don’t Give Up On God

Last week I was in as deep a temptation to give up as I have been in my Christian walk of some forty years.  I desperately needed to hear from God about a certain matter.  Would it be this, or that?  I needed to make a decision.  Yet prayer was so difficult.  God was so silent.  It seemed I had no other choice but to give up on God.  I won’t go into detail, but let me tell you how it happened that I did not give up.

I went to a prayer meeting, and it hardly got going before one of the brothers spoke of George Mueller and his continual experience of answered prayer.  George Mueller proved, demonstrated, over and over again that God answers prayer.  Then a sister shared that the Lord had laid on her heart again the same two passages that have been given to us in our prayer gathering over several months.  They both involve prayer that does not take no for an answer.

One is the parable Jesus gave with the express purpose of teaching that “men [the word is gender inclusive] ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Lk. 18:1).  That is, not give up.  It’s the story of the widow who relentlessly pressed an unjust judge to avenge her of her adversary.  Although the judge gave God no place in his life, nor sought favour of man, he finally did for her what she wanted just to be rid of her.  Jesus then comes to His point.

And shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.

He then adds this:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?

So He gave this parable specifically to encourage people to “not faint,” to not give up on God, but keep pressing Him with our prayers and believing He will yet answer in a day when God is silent and faith is severely challenged, tested, because of it.

The other parable is the story of a man with two friends—one in great need, the other with great provision.  The friend in great need has come to the man hungry in the middle of the night but the man has nothing to set before him.  So he goes to the friend with great provision and, standing outside the door, calls out and wakes him up and asks for what he needs—three loaves.  But calling to him from within, this friend puts him off, he is rebuffed—go away, we’re all in bed here, I can’t give you what you need.  But the man keeps after him till finally he gets what he wants.

Jesus then brings out that it is this importunity, not their friendship, that got the man the provision he needed.

And I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth”       (Lk. 11:8).

Importunity—it means to ask or demand urgently, repeatedly, persistently, relentlessly, tenaciously.

Just prior to this parable the Lord has given his disciples what has been called the Lord’s prayer in response to their request that He teach them to pray.  Then with this parable He continues to teach them to pray—to be importunate in prayer.  Then after the parable He says this:

And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Ask just once?  Seek for a while?  Knock once or twice?  That’s not what the man with two friends did.  He kept on asking, seeking, knocking, till he was given his heart’s desire.  And that, actually, is the force of the Greek tense here—present continuous.

Keep on asking, and it shall be given you; keep on seeking, and ye shall find, keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that keeps on asking receives, and he that keeps on seeking finds, and to him that keeps on knocking it shall be opened.

We need to know and believe that our God greatly desires to answer us and give us our longed-for requests, though it seem He is a reluctant God.  Not so.  We must never take unanswered prayer as God’s answer to prayer.  We must be persistent.  Importunate.  We may not understand why just yet, but this, it seems, is something very important to Him.

At the outset I called it a temptation that I was about ready to call it quits.  I chose that word specifically, because another of the brothers in our little prayer gathering brought out how the disciples slept through the greatest opportunity they’d ever had—that of praying with Jesus in Gethsemane in His hour of temptation to evade the cross.

What, could ye not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation… (Mt. 26:40).

It was when the brother brought this out that I suddenly recognized what I had been going through.  It wasn’t just my own thoughts, it was a temptation.  I have an Adversary who would love nothing more than to see me pack it in, and persistently advises me to do so.  I am so thankful that with the help of brothers and sisters I was able to disappoint him.  I was able to recognize the temptation for what it was, and not enter into it.  If the Lord Himself had been sitting in the prayer gathering in that living room He could not have spoken to me more clearly than He did through the brothers and sisters who were there.  I heard my Father Himself speaking to me.  Don’t give up.  I hear your prayers.  I’m going to answer them.

 

8 responses »

  1. Thank you! Lots of clarity and maturity in this post, Allan… ! So true and real: “Jesus then brings out that it is this importunity, not their friendship, that got the man the provision he needed.”

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  2. I am glad you went through the trial you did, because many including me will be strengthened by this word. I think the enemy picked on the wrong guy. God is so true to his word his strength is perfected in weakness.
    Alden

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    • Thanks for the encouragement, Alden. Let us all be encouraged to continue to press our prayers upon God. Those who continue to believe shall not be disappointed.

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  3. Hi Allan! What you wrote here is a wonderful reminder of how our Father meets us in very personal ways to show us that 1) He does hear and care about our requests and 2) He knows exactly what we need in order to hear Him. What an encouragement! Your post has also caused me to look back at my own ‘faith journey’ and to realize how He faithful He is.

    As a young believer I asked the Lord to show me how to “love Him more” — comparing myself to other Christians, I found myself wanting. Several years ago, after walking with Him for over 30 years I recalled that prayer and was struck with an amazing realization. I had prayed the WRONG prayer and He had answered the RIGHT one! It took 30 years, but He had convinced me of His indescribable love for me! Knowing His love for me is what causes me to trust and respond to Him. My point is not about the love — but about the prayer.

    At some point during those years I read about George Muller and prayed another prayer — “Father I want to know You and trust you the way George Muller did.” This is not easy since I was born fearful and insecure — with a childhood and first marriage that caused me to be very self-protecting and guarded (and I was still learning about His love). But recently (this past month), after struggling with a of a series of difficulties for the past few years, and begging God to bring me a kindred soul with whom to share close fellowship — I realized that I had once again prayed the wrong prayer. He has brought me into a more kindred communion with Himself and (of course) that is what He intended all along. I needed that hunger of heart in order to get there — little by little (as I allowed) He became that kindred friend and the Father I really want. Again, this is about Him and His faithfulness — not about what I felt I needed.
    George Muller and Andrew Murray have been my close friends these past 10 or so years — Godly men who walked the walked and showed me how to make progress in my own walk with the Lord.

    ***From With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray:***
    “There must be a certain amount of faith before there can be prayer; but greater faith is the result of prayer. It is in the personal presence of the Savior, in conversation with Him, that faith rises to grasp what at first appeared too high. It is in prayer that we hold up our desire to the light of God’s Holy will, that our motives are tested, and proof given whether we ask only for the glory of God. It is in prayer that we wait for the leading of the Spirit to show us whether we are asking the right thing and in the right spirit. The weakness of our faith becomes obvious as we pray. But we are led on to say to the Father that we do believe and that we prove the reality of our faith by the confidence with which we persevere. It is in prayer that Jesus teaches and inspires faith. He that waits to pray, or loses heart in prayer, because he does not yet feel the faith needed to get the answer, will never learn to believe. He who *begins* to pray and ask will find the Spirit of faith is *given* nowhere so surely as at the foot of the Throne.”

    Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25

    Press on brother Allan — and thanks for yet another story of God’s faithfulness.

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    • Thank you, Lori, for sharing some of your journey. It’s interesting you mention those two writings. The Andrew Murray quote is precious. I have been reading through that book (With Christ in the School of Prayer) and will find this passage. And one of the brothers is daily reading George Mueller’s autobiography. He is finding it very rich in inspiration, and often shares his findings with us. I am going to start through it (online) myself.

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      • Allan – the Murray quote is from the chapter “Faith That Takes” or “Believe You Have Received” (depending on which book you have). I listen to audios of Murray’s books and also read them. There’s something about *hearing* the words that penetrates my thinking in a different way than reading; the print copy allows me to meditate and process thoughts that jump out at me as I listen to the audio. Also, I don’t read through his books, I mark them up and stay with a chapter or passage, asking the Lord to teach me its truth before moving on.

        I love the way Murray say’s things like “You will say ‘I cannot do this, I have failed so many times'” and then goes on to explain how it is not about you and what you do, but God and what He will do. His books have been a real life changer for me (I learned about Murray through Miles Stanford’s books). Murray doesn’t toss doctrine or principles out there, he is compassionate, understanding and real — yet he delivers a challenge to rise up to the heights of God seated on His throne.

        There are so many books out there about Geroge Muller — my favorite is George Muller of Bristol by A. T. Pierson. My copy is well marked, and every blank page is indexed with notes so I can find sections I need to revisit. God is so faithful — He took that rascal of a man and not only gave him that life that he lived, but made him a meticulous person who would record all that God did for all those years! This book is never far from my devotional corner. Muller taught me to, first thing in the morning, “read Scripture that makes you *happy in the Lord*. That broke me out of my legalistic devotional routine years ago. At the same time Andrew Murray showed me how to be in the presence of the Lord.

        So . . . talking with you about this has been such a sweet reminder of all the Lord has done over the years. NIce!!

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        • Lori, you said, “Muller taught me to, first thing in the morning, “read Scripture that makes you *happy in the Lord*.” My friend who has been reading Mueller’s autobiography spoke about this in our gathering just the other day! Thanks for pinpointing the Murray quote. I had looked for it this morning but could not find it.

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