What does it mean to persist in prayer?

Bible Answer

"Luke 11:5-8 "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 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."

1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."

Inspired Answer

"Many are impatient if they do not at once receive special evidences that God has heard their prayers. They will manifest gratitude if all their expectations are met immediately; but they repine and become fretful if they have to wait, and trust in God. The Lord Jesus is the great Teacher, and it is His providence to teach us lessons of patient trust. He does not propose to indulge us as some parents indulge spoiled children. The promises of God are sure, and they act an important part in our spiritual training; but if the promise should be fulfilled in the very way that we had marked out, it might work our ruin. The promise which, if fulfilled when we desired, would work us injury, waits for fulfilment until we are further disciplined, that we may appreciate the blessing when God sees best to bestow it. Special mercies are often withheld for a time, that we may more earnestly supplicate the throne of grace. We must stay ourselves upon God, and not measure the time by our own finite fancies. Our impulses must not rule over us, but we must rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him, nor let our sunshine turn to darkness, our faith to distrust. The Psalmist says, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Let not your hope languish; only believe that God is true. "The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it," and shall not we have that patience and faith that will endure the test, and wait for the harvest of God's promises?  {PrT, January 30, 1890 par. 17}   

Examples of Persistent Prayer


Genesis 32:24-28 "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

"Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God's promises as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for his blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God--how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God."  {4SP 438.2}

"Jacob's earnest, persevering wrestling with the angel, should be an example for Christians. Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. All who desire the blessing of God, as did Jacob, and will lay hold of the promises as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Why there is so little exercise of true faith, and so little of the weight of truth resting upon many professed believers, is because they are indolent in spiritual things. They are unwilling to make exertions, to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for the blessing, and therefore they do not obtain it. That faith which will live through the time of trouble must be daily in exercise now. Those who do not make strong efforts now to exercise persevering faith, will be wholly unprepared to exercise that faith which will enable them to stand in the day of trouble."  {1SP 124.1}


1 Kings 18:41-44 "And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not."

"When upon Mt. Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with a strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove His word, He will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with His interests, and then He can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God. God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon Him; for should He do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors He bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we should become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help."  {2BC 1034.7}  

"Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears prayer, for then we shall give the praise to Him. The custom of offering praise to men is one that results in great evil. One praises another, and thus men are led to feel that glory and honor belong to them. When you exalt man, you lay a snare for his soul, and do just as Satan would have you. You should praise God with all your heart, soul, might, mind, and strength; for God alone is worthy to be glorified." (RH March 27, 1913).  {2BC 1035.1}        

"The servant watched while Elijah prayed. Six times he returned from the watch, saying, There is nothing, no cloud, no sign of rain. But the prophet did not give up in discouragement. He kept reviewing his life, to see where he had failed to honor God, he confessed his sins, and thus continued to afflict his soul before God, while watching for a token that his prayer was answered. As he searched his heart, he seemed to be less and less, both in his own estimation and in the sight of God. It seemed to him that he was nothing, and that God was everything; and when he reached the point of renouncing self, while he clung to the Saviour as his only strength and righteousness, the answer came. The servant appeared, and said, "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." {RH May 26, 1891}


2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV) 7 "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

"It is not best to mark out some special way in which God must work to fulfil your desires. Your ways, your plans, may not be God's ways or God's plans. The promise that you have thought suited to your need will be fulfilled in unlooked-for blessings, greater than you have asked or thought. Remember that you are not to doubt because you do not receive the very thing for which you asked. Paul requested that the troublesome thorn in the flesh might be removed, but the Lord gave that which was more valuable,--grace to endure it patiently. The strength of Jesus was made perfect in weakness, and Paul was able through Christ to bear about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Jesus prayed that if it were possible, the bitter cup might be removed, but He was not released from the obligation of drinking it. Strength was imparted to Him to drain its bitterest dregs. Jesus said, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." With these precious examples before us, let us trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon our God." {PrT, January 30, 1890 par. 18}

Children Of Israel

Deuteronomy 8:2-4 (NKJV) 2 "And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years."

"Christ desires nothing so much as to redeem His heritage from the dominion of Satan. But before we are delivered from Satan's power without, we must be delivered from his power within. The Lord permits trials in order that we may be cleansed from earthliness, from selfishness, from harsh, unchristlike traits of character. He suffers the deep waters of affliction to go over our souls in order that we may know Him and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, in order that we may have deep heart longings to be cleansed from defilement, and may come forth from the trial purer, holier, happier. Often we enter the furnace of trial with our souls darkened with selfishness; but if patient under the crucial test, we shall come forth reflecting the divine character. When His purpose in the affliction is accomplished, "He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." Psalm 37:6.  {COL 174.3}  There is no danger that the Lord will neglect the prayers of His people. The danger is that in temptation and trial they will become discouraged, and fail to persevere in prayer."  {COL 175.1}  

Further Instruction

Does Persisting In Prayer Mean We Are Constantly Praying?

"Christ has urged that His people pray without ceasing. This does not mean that we should always be upon our knees; but that prayer is to be as the breath of the soul. Our silent requests, wherever we may be, are to be ascending unto God, and Jesus our Advocate pleads in our behalf, bearing up with the incense of his righteousness our requests to the Father. {Lt13-1894.15}

Does Persisting Automatically Bring Desired Answer?

No. Notice Paul's experience.