The Secret to Persevering Prayer
My wife and I like to kick off the New Year with some extended prayer during which we ask God to lead us to Bible texts that can serve as our theme for the year. We usually come up with different texts for each of us and for me, it was Hebrews 4:11 this year: “Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest.”
“Rest” had been a persistently recurring theme through the month of December and had come up several times in personal prayer and times of listening prayer with several trusted friends.
The overall context of Hebrew 4:11 is, of course, that we may rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross and not try to achieve righteousness and salvation in our own efforts. But there is more to resting in Him than that.
In God’s kingdom, rest is not idleness or laziness or an everlasting siesta. It is the overall position and posture we have in Christ, from which all ministry, including prayer and intercession, flows.
Let me explain.
Some forty years ago, early on in my Christian walk, I read a short book by Watchman Nee entitled “Sit, Walk, Stand.” It is a summary of the entire book of Ephesians in three words. He explains that a Christian must, first of all, be seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) before we can walk the impossible walk of worthiness according to God’s standards (see Matthew 5 & 6), and stand firm against the spiritual forces of evil (see Ephesians 6:10-18).
Seated in Christ
Being seated with Him in Christ in the heavenly places is a stunning reality! Unmerited, undeserved, loaded with sin-debt, we have been forgiven, redeemed, adopted as sons and daughters of God, and sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit. As if that wasn’t enough we have been given a share in Christ’s exalted position above every name (see Philippians 2: 9).
This lofty position in Christ does not mean we can now rest on our laurels and be smug. Rather it plays itself out in our lives in a couple of ways:
- We are partakers in the authority of Christ. We pray in His Name, representing His exalted position and authority above everything else that exists. That is both a faith booster and a responsibility booster. It boosts our faith in the sense that His Name endorses every prayer we pray. It boosts our responsibility that we must pray right!“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:17)“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these he will do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)We represent Christ’s authority, power, and will in anything we ask for “in His Name.” It is tremendously freeing to know that I do not represent myself or my puny insights, and that the answers to my prayers are not based on my worthiness, and my success of failure in Christian living. They are based solely on my identification with Christ who conquered death and Satan.
- We live and pray from a position of victory. On the cross, Christ decisively defeated Satan. “Lo, his doom is sure” sang Martin Luther. Henceforth, everything on earth belongs to God. Satan is an invader and has no claim to anything. For that reason, everything you read in the New Testament about spiritual warfare is depicted as “standing.”“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemed of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)We are not attacking, invading, or seizing anything. We are reclaiming and rightfully defending what is God’s, in particular the souls of men, as well as our own.
This insight was a game-changer for me. Instead of attacking Satan, I declare God’s claim over everything that I intercede for that is under attack, and praise Him for the victory already won. It is not up to us to wage an offensive war, but simply to stand firm against his attacks on us, our fellow believers, and the souls of people God wants to be saved, resting in the victory won by Christ. It’s a battle, for sure. If we pretend it doesn’t exist and don’t fight that defensive battle, Satan wins terrain that is rightfully not his.
So whether we pray about abortion, the moral slide of our nation, social injustice, racism, violence, or revival – the position is the same. We pray seated with Christ in the heavenly places, representing His authority and , from a position of victory already won on Calvary, reclaiming what is His.
With one caveat:
- Being seated in Christ and resting in Him is a place of dependence, hearing, and receiving. This is where position turns into posture. I present myself daily to Him – not with my agenda and list of requests – but seeking His. I have learned to use the sentence, “Lord, what do you want to say to me today?” a lot. Not only does that pertain to hearing what I need to hear for my own spiritual growth, for direction, and for action throughout the day. It also pertains to prayer and intercession. Paul implies in Romans 8:26 that we do not know what we ought to pray for, and therefore the Spirit comes to help us.That is extremely relevant to intercession and spiritual battle. If we are His foot soldiers, reclaiming and defending what is rightfully His, we must receive and follow the general’s direction on what to reclaim and defend, and how. We might call it: “Prayer with insight.”And so the soldier rests in knowing that the general has the big picture of what he is supposed to do and how, that the victory is already won, and he has the job of engaging the defeated enemy to mop up.The intercessor rests in knowing that the Holy Spirit gives him what to pray, which gives him assurance that he has prayed according to the will of God and that he has been heard or answered.
And the believer who simply prays to make his concerns known before God in order not to be anxious according to the promise in Philippians 4:6 rests in knowing that his position of Christ is secure because of His finished work on the cross, and that along with Christ, God has given us everything (2 Peter 1:3,4).
Resting And Persisting In Prayer
It is important for prayer warriors and intercessors to realize that, because we are seated in Christ in the heavenly places, supplication and intercession flow out of unceasing fellowship with the Father. In other words, daily fellowship with the Father and being in a posture of receiving His mind, His heart, and His insight overflows in supplication and intercession. I think that is why Jesus taught prayer the way He did in Matthew 6. Through worship and surrender, we rest in the Father’s glory, might, and kingdom purposes, and out of that identification with His will, we petition.
That is especially relevant when it comes to persisting in prayer. Andrew Murray writes in Abide in the Secret Place:
“One of the greatest drawbacks to the life of prayer is that the answer does not come as speedily as we expect….This was a lesson our Lord taught often and urgently. If we look further into the matter, we can see that there may be a reason for the delay, and the waiting may be a blessing to our souls.”
“When we pray, our desire must grow deeper and stronger, and we must ask with the whole heart. God puts us into the school of persevering prayer so that our weak faith may be strengthened….Above all, God wants to draw us into closer fellowship with Himself. When our prayers are not answered, we learn to realize that the fellowship, nearness, and love of God are more to us than the answers to our petitions, and we continue in prayer.”
Just like in other kinds of ministry, intercessors can fall into the trap of making their prayer life all about their petitions and warfare. When we do, we wear out, because we have forgotten we must sit before we can stand. We cut ourselves off from the flow of energy, power, faith, and insight when we do not put our friendship with the Father first and learn to rest in Him. All a branch knows to do is to receive from the Vine to produce its fruit. All a Christian, especially one who has taken on the mantle of priestly intercession, needs to know is to be in a posture of constant receiving from the Father and let it overflow in urgent, wholehearted, faith-filled intercession.
If we only seek the hand of God, we miss the glory of His face. If we seek the face of God, we will will not only experience that glory, but receive His hand also.
Are you weary sometimes? Discouraged that prayers have not been answered? Battle fatigued?
Could it be that you put the cart before the horse and stormed the gates of heaven in your own strength and with your own ideas, rather than to come in a posture of resting in Christ?
Be encouraged. Learn to come each day seated in Christ, empty and ready to receive, resting in His promises that in Christ God gives us everything we need, for literally every aspect of our lives, including – and especially – prayer according to His will. Don’t for a moment heed Satan’s voice that would call you lazy. You are not lazy, you are empty. And you’re supposed to be so that God can fill you with Himself to overflowing.
That’s ministry in Christ – a whole different, and much better, ballgame than doing things for Christ. That’s also praying in Christ, and also different that praying to Christ.
Think about it. Then rest in prayer.
Remco Brommet is a pastor, spiritual growth teacher, and prayer leader with over 40 years’ experience in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the US. Born and raised in the Netherlands and pastoring his first church in Amsterdam, he moved to the US in 1986. He and his wife Jennifer currently live north of Atlanta, GA When not writing books, he blogs and assists his wife as content developer and prayer coordinator for True Identity Ministries. Jennifer and Remco are passionate about bringing people into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Join Remco on Pray with Others Live on Tuesday, February 1 at 12:15 pm. Call (667) 771-7910, access code 2452# or watch anytime at IFApray.org/watch.
Partner with Us
Intercessors for America is the trusted resource for millions of people across the United States committed to praying for our nation. If you have benefited from IFA's resources and community, please consider joining us as a monthly support partner. As a 501(c)3 organization, it's through your support that all this possible.
Thanks for Praying!