I believe that God is speaking to us as a church just now about corporate prayer. Without realising it, I think we can subconsciously start to question whether our prayers are really making a difference, especially for the big things where we want to see breakthrough. I’m sure this probably comes from times when we have prayed before and not see the answers for which we had hoped.
I think this is why the main thing Jesus seems to teach his disciples about prayer is that they should always pray and never give up. He says these very words at the start of the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1. The same message comes through clearly in the parable of the friend who arrives at midnight in Luke 11:5-13, which follows the Lord’s prayer. The point of that story is that we would persistently petition God with shameless audacity, knowing that our loving Father wants to give us good things. But we are not just to ask, we are to ask and ask and then ask again!
This reminds me of the story of Elijah praying for rain after the drought in 1 Kings 18. God tells his prophet Elijah that he is about to send the rain. God has spoken – surely that’s enough? It is for King Ahab, who goes off to have his dinner! But Elijah knows that he needs to partner with God in praying for His will to be done on the earth as it has been expressed from heaven. And so we see Elijah bowing down in prayer over and over until that small rain cloud appears over the sea.
In seeking to call our city to life, we can’t do God’s part, and he won’t do our part (Ps 115:16). As his delegated authority on the earth, God has given his church the glorious task of shaping the destiny of cities and nations through our prayers.
So let’s choose to believe in prayer again, and let’s ask and ask and ask until we see the kingdom breakthrough for which we are all longing.
Lynne Paterson has been a member of QP for six years and has also led Tearfund in Scotland since 2009.