How many of you have ever prayed for something and not gotten what you prayed for? I’ll answer…everyone. Now there may be some out there who claim that they have gotten everything they have ever asked God for and there is a name for people like that, for lack of a better word let’s call them liars.
If we are honest we can all admit that at times it seems like God is not answering our prayers. I am not talking about the self serving, God give me a million dollars, type prayers. I am talking about the God give me protection, God give me peace, God please speak to me type prayers. The Bible says God does not leave us or forsake us, but at times we feel all alone, almost abandoned by God…don’t worry you are in good company…the “man after God’s own heart” felt that way too. Just read Psalms and see how at times David felt God wasn’t anywhere to be found.
We pray for God to grant us peace…the Bible talks of a peace that surpasses all understanding, and yet at times we feel like all Hell is breaking loose in our lives. Parents pray for their kids to follow God and love God and then watch as they make destructive choice after destructive choice and wonder where is God? We pray for security in our lives, for peace in our marriages and relationships, for comfort…and find nothing but chaos and strife.
This is a problem that has plagued Christians, probably starting minutes after Jesus ascended into Heaven and continuing right up to this present day…and unfortunately will continue until Jesus comes back (psst, if you didn’t know, He is coming back). Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
One reason that our prayers aren’t answered is because we give up too easy.
Yes, we give up way too easily.
And although we do share the majority of the blame for this lack of intestinal fortitude, we can also lay part of our lack of sticktoitiveness to society and other Christians. Yes I know an explanation is in order…so let me explain.
First, what the heck is sticktoitiveness?
Now let me get this out of the way in the beginning…yes, I am an English major and yes, I know that sticktoitiveness is not a word. I don’t know the origins of this word but I know I first heard it in 9th grade science class. My science teacher used this and many other made up word when teaching us. Sticktoitiveness was his word to describe the act of not giving up.
Man you kept working and working and working until you finished, you showed great sticktoitiveness.
He always used this word. It always got on my nerves back then, something I reminded him on various occasions, letting him know that sticktoitiveness is not a real word…and yet here I am using his word again…his word has much stickitudity. (my stupid, made up on the spot word that means it has lasting power).
Anyway, we Christians lack sticktoitiveness. Society is part of the blame. We live in an instant gratification society. We want what we want, when we want, how we want…and fast. Don’t think you have fallen prey to society. Go to Taco Bueno and order a couple of tacos…if it takes more than 2
minutes to get your order don’t you move from aggravation to anger really fast? I mean what the heck is taking them so long? Now think, in less time than it takes you to preheat your oven to simply warm up your taco shells at home… to say nothing of the slicing of the tomatoes, the preparing the lettuce, cooking the meat, etc… you are able to get a full meal, along with snacks and drinks…and if it takes more than a few minutes we start to get annoyed.
We want what we want now and if the results are delayed what do we do? Move on. How many of us have sat at a drive through waiting for an answer from the person behind the microphone and if it “takes too long” we move onto the next place, because they have better service – they are faster? I know I have.
Other Christians also do us a disservice when it comes to our lack of sticktoitiveness. I don’t believe these Christians to be devious and intentional in their actions, but even-so the results can be devastating.
Many Christians today preach the so-called “name it and claim it” gospel. You want something, name it, and claim it…ask God for it, believe you have it and it is yours. If you have prayed for it, that’s it, you are done…if you don’t get what you want it’s a lack of faith on your part. If you keep praying for something you are showing a lack of faith…
And on and on…
The name it and claim it gospel is popular because who doesn’t want things when they want them…ask once and it is yours? It fits right into the society model of instant gratification. But is it right?
I say no. One only needs to look at the Bible for examples of Christians needing to show more sticktoitiveness when it comes to their prayers.
You might not be getting answers to your prayers because you are not praying for the right things…if you are praying for a million dollars because you wanna buy cool things…uh probably not gonna happen.
You might not be getting answers to your prayers because God knows better. He knows that if you get the job you want you are not gonna be happy and the company is gonna go belly-up in 1 year and He is watching out for you.
Maybe it’s not God’s will. Just look at Jesus’ prayer in the garden. He named what He wanted, but didn’t get it because it wasn’t God’s will.
But maybe, just maybe, you are not sticking with it long enough…again because of society and confusion about how to pray. Christians pray for something and when the answer doesn’t come in the timing they want or in the way they want, they do what we do when we don’t get the right kind of taco (I wanted it without tomatoes) in the time frame we want…we give up and move on.
Luke 11:5-9 (The Message)
5-6 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
9 “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
We have often heard this story that Jesus told his disciples. There are other translations of this story that say that the man got the bread from his friend because of his insistence, because he didn’t give up…because of his sticktoitiveness. Jesus ends this story with the oft-quoted…
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
The only problem is that something, somewhere, probably a long time ago has been lost in the translation apparently. I am not a Greek speaker, although I do have Greek bloodlines, but the Greek translation of Luke 11:9 literally is translated as KEEP asking…KEEP seeking…KEEP knocking…and when taken in context of the dude asking his buddy for bread and getting it because of his tenacity it fits in context.
In order to get something, there needs to be a burning desire for it. Remember as a kid when you wanted something? You asked for it and gave up, right?
Wrong! You asked and asked and asked…and asked again…and again. You didn’t give up until you got what you wanted. The same kind of sticktoitiveness that is represented here.
And here in James…
James 5:16-18 (NIV)
16 …The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
This is often quoted too by Christians when talking about the incredible power in our prayers. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. AMEN to that brother (and sister, lest someone accuse me of chauvinism)
Let’s break this down first. “The prayer” is us talking with God usually asking him for something. “Of a righteous man” means you and me, as Christians. We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus, so if we are Christians we are righteous. “Is powerful and effective” means it is effective and powerful, not much explanation is needed.
So our prayers work. And to further illustrate the point James brings up Elijah. He says he was a man just like us…well except for the whole being taken into Heaven on a chariot thing, but who knows it might happen for you…and his prayer was able to stop rain for over 3 years and another prayer was able to bring the rain. He can do it…so can we. Our prayers after all our powerful and effective, just like Elijah’s
But Elijah’s prayer, in part, was successful because he had sticktoitiveness. Elijah had to pray SEVEN times for the rain to come. He didn’t just pray and BAM the rain came. He prayed, had someone check, prayed, had someone check, prayed, had someone check, prayed, had someone check, prayed, had
someone check, prayed, had someone check, and prayed and had someone check…and then, finally bam, it was raining.
1 Kings 18:42-44
42-43 …Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, “On your feet now! Look toward the sea.”
He went, looked, and reported back, “I don’t see a thing.”
“Keep looking,” said Elijah, “seven times if necessary.”
44 And sure enough, the seventh time he said, “Oh yes, a cloud! But very small, no bigger than someone’s hand, rising out of the sea.”
“Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, ‘Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.'”
Elijah, a man, just like us knew the deal. He wanted something from God. He knew it was part of God’s plan…and he prayed with sticktoitiveness and it worked.
Are you praying for something? Are you trying to overcome something? Does it seem like there is no hope and there is no relief in sight?
I’ll answer for us again….YES. I would say all of us need something, in some area of our life. The message is to keep with it. Keep praying, keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking…God is faithful and He will do what He said He would do.
Do you have the sticktoitiveness to keep with it?
(something else to think about… the number 7 was used by Jesus when talking about how many times to forgive someone…remember? 7 times 70…that’s 490…surely I don’t have to pray 490 times to get an answer…and if I did…would I give up? Just move onto something else? Or show, yes you guessed it…sticktoitiveness)
Oh that we would have more sticktoitiveness.