Persistence In Prayer 1 — The Devil Hates It
Updated: Jul 21
Chan Gin Kai
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1)
Does prayer come naturally for you?
I wish it comes naturally for me, but it doesn’t. Even though I’ve prayed for decades, I still find it easier talking to someone I can see than someone I can’t. I still get distracted by the many things around me. But Jesus taught that we “should always pray”.
Nothing Should Stop Us
Paul exhorted the same, calling us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Knowing our natural tendency to struggle in prayer, Jesus taught that we should “not give up” (ESV translates “not lose heart”).
There are many reasons why we give up praying.
Some of us are self-reliant. This is a double-edged sword. While it is good that we take ownership of our lives and don’t become dependent on others for solutions, we get so used to solving our own problems that we hardly turn to anyone else. Whether it is because we feel bad about troubling others, or become too confident in our abilities, the concept of turning to God doesn’t come naturally. We know we should always pray, but we easily revert to our self-reliant nature and give up.
Some of us lose patience and get angry with God. We live in a world that moves at breakneck speed. We get information with a few clicks on the Internet. We communicate real time through a variety of platforms and devices. Fast service has become as important as good products and we are ready to turn to other vendors if we don’t get what we want quickly. Sadly, we do the same to God. We want God to move according to our timing instead of His. And when He doesn’t, we give up praying.
Some of us get discouraged and lose trust in God. We may be strong and not easily disheartened, but a series of defeats can eventually wear us down. We may have done our best but things still go wrong through no fault of ours. We may have poured our hearts into loving someone only to get stabbed in the back later. We may even be making sacrifices for God’s glory, and yet face failures despite our best intentions. We question God’s fairness, doubt if He cares, and lose trust in Him.
There are many more reasons of course, for the Devil can get really creative when he sets his heart on something. He doesn’t want us talking to our Father as that’ll get us closer to God. He hates it when we pray as that’ll stop us listening to him.
But none of these reasons should stop us. Why should we let the Devil drive a wedge between God and us? We must not give up praying.
Nothing To Lose
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” (Luke 18:2-5)
In olden days, especially in patriarchal worlds, widowhood presented a lot of difficulties to a woman. It wasn’t merely a loss of someone they loved. For many, it meant financial difficulties and the loss of protection too. Because the mistreatment of widows was common, the Bible repeatedly warned against that (Exodus 22:22-23, Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 94:6, Zechariah 7:10).
To further explain persistence in prayer, Jesus told a parable about a widow. She was already disadvantaged emotionally and financially from her widowhood, but she suffered an injustice from an adversary too. And to add insult to injury, she met a judge who wasn’t concerned about justice or cared for people.
It would have been tempting for the widow to give up. After all, mistreatment of widows was common and lackadaisical judges were not unusual too. But she persisted with her case because she had nothing to lose. She had already lost her husband, life was already hard, she had already been mistreated, and she wasn’t getting justice. What else was there for her to lose?
We may not be in the same state as the widow, but we really have nothing to lose either.
We should have learnt by now that our earthly pursuits are futile. Our defeats disappoint us, and our victories leave us feeling empty. We try even harder to chase an elusive happiness only to find that the void grows bigger. Isn’t it time to turn to God?
Have you looked at the affairs of the world and felt disappointed? Have you been let down by your family and friends? Have you been betrayed by people you love? Have you tried your best but still failed miserably? Or gotten the objects and successes you desire but still find life meaningless?
Of course life it not all miserable and there are certainly some high points too. But we know that our life, as a whole, is actually meaningless. We’ve listened to the Devil’s lies. We’ve gotten distracted by worthless quests and turned away from our true purpose — our relationship with God.
We do not need to be hungry or homeless to realise that we are in dire straits… our life is empty and we’ve got a one-way ticket to hell. We really have nothing to lose. Only God can fill our hearts. And only He can bring us salvation. We need to turn to God in prayer.
The Devil hates it when we pray, but God loves it. Who are we going to listen to? Nothing should stop us from praying. Let’s not give up.
Read more about ‘Persistence In Prayer’:
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.