How Can We Be Both Persistent and Specific in Prayer?

Dear Jennifer,

I just listened to your beautiful video on Session Six in Missing Pieces about yielding to God’s will, which I love because it lets us stop micro-managing and relax into God’s will. Yet, on page 122, you cite Matthew 7:7, which shows how we must be specific and persistent. How can we be persistent and specific in prayer, when we are just submitting? If you are not being specific every day in asking God to heal your blindness, are you being disobedient? Help me to see the difference or the similarity between these two passages.



Jennifer’s Answer:

Great question, Susie! Love it! Thanks for asking. I hope I can communicate my best understanding of the answer. Of course, take nothing a person says about truth as truth until you ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and line it up with Scripture. So, here goes….

Submitting to God’s will and asking for Him to do His will are not mutually exclusive. Jesus’ teaching on this was not to say, “beg, hope and plead, and maybe if you do that well and frequently enough, I will answer”. That would seem like the very opposite of yielding, resting and submitting to him in prayer. Rather, the point Jesus was teaching is the importance of growing in the virtue of perseverance. In Matthew 7: 7, the Greek verb-tense suggests an ongoing action—keep on asking, keep on seeking, etc.

In prayer, we submit and rest in God’s character.

In prayer, we submit and rest in God’s character. When we keep asking, it is to affirm God’s character as a God who hears and answers. It’s not to somehow change his character or make Him hear and answer.  In this way, asking, seeking and knocking is an affirmation that you are resting in who He is.  You show that you are assured and secure in Him being sovereign and in control.

Here’s an example: If I am a farmer who plants corn, I would continually sow the seeds as an affirmation that my land will yield a crop of corn. When I dig the dirt and shove a seed beneath, I am submitting to the reality that my planting gives opportunity for the land to bring harvest. I may “know” the land has that ability, I may easily yield to that reality, but it is only when I choose to plant my seed there that the reality of what the land can do is revealed.

In prayer, my asking, seeking and knocking is my way of planting seeds of prayer. I do it as an act of submission. I rest in the result because ultimately, it is up to the fertility of the land to determine if my seed will grow. In prayer, asking, seeking and knocking can be an active way of resting in the truth that God will do as He sees fit with the needs I give to Him.

So, in that way, yielding and asking are not mutually exclusive…they are compatible. Make sense?

Do you have any other advice for our friend? Leave a comment here.


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