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Having considered the parable of Jesus in Luke 11 concerned with persistence even to the point of importunity, we now begin lesson five of our study. In this lesson, we will once again consider the topic of persistence in prayer.
Over the years, we began to notice that some folks were urging us to be persistent in prayer, whereas others were urging us to pray once and only once. They told us that praying more than once was a lack of faith and even an insult to the Lord. This was a very pressing dilemma, because we wanted our prayer life to be very pleasing to the Lord.
During those years, the Lord began to show us a variety of Scripture passages which tended to deal with persistence. We noted with fascination that in Mk 8:22-26, even Jesus had to lay his hands on the blind man two times. Paul at one point tells us that he prayed three times for a particular thorn in his side in 2nd Cor. 12:8. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times that this cup would pass from Him Mt. 26:36-46.
In our own personal experience we sometimes found that healing came when we laid hands on a person the second or even third time. We began to see that persistence paid off. Then, we met Charles and Frances Hunter at one of their "Healing Explosions." They were telling people that if they did not get their healing in one prayer line then go from one to the other. Benny Hinn told a story of one woman who was very persistent, who followed him from crusade to crusade until she was healed. Ken and Gloria Copeland tell of any number of folks who spoke words of faith numerous times before receiving their healing. One woman affirmed healing to her body 100 times per day until she received her healing.
In our own family we have seen times when one prayer brought healing. My mother was healed from glaucoma and cataracts as we laid hands on her just one time. However, when our daughter began to have seizures, not only did we take her to the doctor, we also began to lay hands on her daily for about three years when she received her healing in spite of the fact that her problem was not curable. Even the doctor was amazed.
In the midst of all of this, the Lord led us to two passages: Luke 11:1-13 & Luke 18:1-8. Both of these have to do with being persistent in prayer. We would like to share one of those with you at this time, Luke 18:1-8. Please note that I have taken the time to translate this passage. Holly and I desire to have the most undefiled understanding of this parable, because in this passage Jesus is instructing us to be persistent. Being persistent also means to be diligent. However, if in English there is an emphasis on persistence, then wait until you see what is contained in the Greek. Greek has an even higher degree of emphasis on being persistent.
As you read my translation, you might have one or two other versions in front of you for comparison. Here is my translation followed by some helpful notes.
This woman knew her rights, and she had the gall to pursue those rights with a vengeance. The Greek tends to stress her "continual" coming, and her "continual" speaking. Then, she does something that must have been absolutely outrageous. She tells the judge, "I demand my rights!" "I command you to give me my rights." This is very strong language, but the Greek is in the imperative, command, form of the verb.
The woman had several things going for her before she came to court.
Note also that the word normally translated as vindication may also be translated as rights. To vindicate someone also means to give someone their rights. In my translation, I felt that I would use a combination of vindication and rights to amplify the text.
What I would like to add at this point is to encourage you to use these same principles as you intercede for others. In fact, as I have pointed out, the very essence of love is that we stand by another person as much as we would for our own rights. The following is an example of our own persistence for the sake of my mother.
When my mother was placed in a nursing home after breaking her hip, Alzheimers disease also came into her life, which brought out an anger that would put a teamster to shame. When I would come for a visit, she would scream and yell vulgarities as she violently hit nurses drawing blood from them on several occasions. The home asked me not to come, and only Holly could go. Grandma would greet Holly with love and affection.
Being distressed at this, I turned to the Lord. Gradually, the Lord began to give me some insights on how to pray for her and to gain healing. I would like to share these insights with you.
Alzhiemers, He showed me, was a demonic problem. It had to be dealt with through a process of binding and loosing - preferably with the laying on of hands. However, that was not possible. Still, I could bless handkerchiefs and the like and send them with Holly even as Paul had blessed handkerchiefs in the Book of Acts. So, day after day, Holly and I would find various items to take to her with the blessing and the anointing of the Holy Spirit - everything from cookies to hair pins.
We did this as often as we could because we knew that we were in a battle against demons and evil spirits. As Holly fought the battle on the front lines, I stayed at home and began to learn how to fight the battle from a distance.
[Please Note: I know that some of the concepts I am giving you seem long and drawn out with perhaps far too much detail in them. They may even appear to be redundant. Nevertheless, I came to feel that covering every base is far better than perhaps leaving something out. Not only that but as you will see, these principles have worked for us and they have worked for others. My suggestion is that you use whatever of these various principles you feel at ease with. I do not want to say this is the only way to go, but rather to simply share what we feel comfortable doing. The Lord will lead you into a way that will be pleasing to Him and comfortable to you.]
Day by day as I prayed for my mother, the Lord gradually showed me just how to pray. Over a period of time, various aspects of prayer began to come to me. One of the things that I tended to do was to extend my hand in the direction of the home, symbolically laying my hands on my mother. At the same time, I began to feel that I needed to cast out various demons and evil spirits from her, while at the same time to bless her with the fruit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As I did this, I got the impression that I should not just pray for "mom" in general, but that I should pray for her mind, her soul, her heart, her spirit, her body and her entire being covering all the possibilities, and not just "mom." Because I saw this as warfare, I prayed daily.
As I prayed, I asked the Lord to show me what demons and evil spirits were at work in her life. Gradually, various thoughts would just pop into my mind that she had a spirit of anger, one of rebellion. Later Holly and I sensed that she had a religious spirit that hindered her relationship with the Lord. Several other spirits of various kinds manifested themselves over the years, and we tried to deal with each one as we became aware of it.
Our way of praying developed over a period of years - a kind of hit and miss. There are no Robert's Rules on how to pray. It's a learning experience day by day. God is a Creator God, and He is at work on your behalf to help you develop your prayer life according to your own distinctive needs and desires.
Ultimately, we came to a place where we would reach out toward Grandma, and command the demons and the evil spirits of anger and rebellion to leave her mind, her heart, her soul, her spirit, her body, and her entire being from the tip of her toes to the top of her head in the name of Jesus. We bound them up and commanded them to be cast into the outer darkness, there to meet with their destruction.
We then proceeded to command a blessing to come into her mind, her heart, her soul, her spirit, her body and her entire being from the tip of her toes to the top of her head with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control, with a full measure of forgiveness toward Richard and Holly in the name of Jesus, commanding them never more to return.
Some days we would pray a blessing of each of the fruit separately over every portion of her being. This would take longer, but we both had a very deep love for Grandma, and we desired to see her set free to enjoy her life.
Slowly but surely we began to see changes taking place in her. Over a period of months and years, I found that I was able to visit with her for longer and longer periods of time. Occasionally, this would not be possible, because there were moments when she would snap back. However, these moments would become fewer and fewer. Ultimately, there came a time when she would reach out to me and tell me how much she loved me and was so thankful for my being with her.
All of her anger was gone. Her rebellion was cleansed away. The religious spirits left her and a whole variety of such beings were cast out and never did come back. She would laugh and hug and kiss and was a real joy to be with. She came to know Jesus and her last days were a real blessing to us as well as the folks at the nursing home.
This parable (of the persistent widow) leaves no doubt that we are to come continually or incessantly to God. Such continual incessant coming and speaking is not a lack of faith. Obedience to the parable produces reward. God acts. I trust that I have been able to stimulate your insight into this parable as well as to your way of praying, giving you a new tenacity and diligence.
As we move ahead to our next lesson, we continue to follow the lead of Jesus. As you recall, the disciples of Jesus demanded that He teach them to pray. In response, Jesus laid out several steps in his method of training. He showed them that their Abba Father was deeply concerned about their needs. He then provided them with an outline of how to pray in the Lord's Prayer. Following that, Jesus began to train his disciples in the concept of asking, knocking and seeking as vital aspects of their prayer life. It is this aspect of asking, knocking and seeking that we plan to study next. A portion of asking, knocking and seeking is that of praying "without ceasing." We will open with that concept.
God love and bless you in your study of his Word.