Summary: An encouragement to pray consistently and never quit.

Persistent Prayer Provides Hope

Part 1 of 4 in the series "A Time for Hope! Real Issues, Real Hope, Real Help!"

We’re beginning a new series today that deals with hope.

Hope is one of life’s most important possessions. Every one of us needs hope. Hope is what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. Have you found yourself needing more motivation lately? Then hope is exactly what you need! Hope enables you to put one foot in front of another in the rough times and in the routine times of life.

The problem is, we don’t always find the hope we need because we’re often looking in the wrong places. We look to other people for hope or we look to material things for hope. Sometimes we think that if we can just arrive at a certain level of enjoyment in life then we’ll have hope. Some people believe that with more involvement in politics and social reform there will be more hope. Others believe that if they work hard enough in life they can manufacture their own hope.

But this month we’re going to see where real hope comes from and how we can gain access to it.

Today we begin our journey of hope with one of the primary resources of hope – persistent prayer. Not the weak, inconsistent, “every so often” kind of praying that we often practice. Not the kind of prayer life that “uses” God – where you just call on Him when you get in trouble, (and we’ve all probably been guilty of that) but a prayer pattern that exhibits an ongoing conversation with God as with your closest friend.

We’re talking about a prayer life where you don’t stop talking to God because you get too busy or because you give up praying due to your impatience or your discouragement.

The idea of persistent prayer providing hope comes from Jesus’ teaching to His disciples. The Bible says,

1-3Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. (Circle that phrase, “pray consistently and never quit.” That is the theme of this story.) He said, "There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ’My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

4-5"He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on (Circle that phrase “on and on.”) he said to himself, ’I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’"

6-8Then the Master said, "Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?" Luke 18:1-8 (Msg)

What a great story! No one can tell a story like Jesus! And this story ought to really hit home with each of us.

Sooner or later life gets you down. Life is rough like a boxing match. It’s not a question of you getting hit hard or even getting knocked down. The question is “are you going to stay down?”

I remember Mike Tyson’s first fight after he got out of prison. It was with a little-known boxer named Peter McNeeley. That fight was like Rocky Balboa stepping into the ring with Apollo Creed – the proven champion vs. the underdog.

As usual, before this big boxing event the two opponents promoted the fight by staring each other down eyeball to eyeball and it looked like McNeeley was saying to Tyson, “I’m going to let everyone see how tough I am.” But only 1 minute and 44 seconds into the first round McNeeley was knocked out by a punch he didn’t see coming and the fight was quickly over.

That’s the way life is sometimes. It might not be like Mike Tyson’s left, but it has a lot of similarities. 1) You don’t know what hit you. 2) You can’t believe how much it hurts. 3) And you don’t know if you are ever going to be able to get up again.

That’s why Jesus tells a story to all who might be rubbing their jaw today, to all who might be finding it very difficult to figure out whether they want to keep going.

The woman in Jesus’ parable apparently had taken one on the chin. We don’t know what her problem was. We are not given the details. But that’s because it’s not important what her exact problem was. What is important is Christ’s encouragement to pray consistently and never quit.

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