"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6, NIV
What causes you to give up?
It depends on what we're talking about, right! If it's doing endless loads of washing, maybe about 3 loads and I'm started to get fed up (soft, I know!) If it's reading a good book on a rich theological, biblical, or philosophical topic, maybe a few days and I'd probably need to make contact with other human life (weird, I know!) But when it comes to prayer, what causes you to give up?
I've noticed something in my own life, and I think I'm not alone. That continuing in prayer for many of the different important things in my life is hard. Hard to keep at, before the Lord. There's many reasons we're given for why we're like this - being the microwave generation who wants everything instantly is first and often foremost among them.
BUT - I think it's deeper than what's going on around us
Whilst I do believe that what is happening around us in society and culture can influence us, get on the inside of our attitudes and mindsets, I do think there is a deeper reason why we struggle to persevere in prayer.
I think we're often tempted to believe God is other than who He says He is in His word! I say tempted, because we all have our good days, but often we also have days where we started out strong and then something happened in us or to us that causes us to all too quickly question everything. We stabilize, for sure, but our confidence, especially in God, can take a hit.
Enough of those days are had and, before you know it, we've shrunken down what we're seeking God for, or shrinking right back from being bold at all. We're praying simple prayers, generic prayers, easy prayers to pray that keep us (and God?) safe from the pain of risk and the pain of disappointment.
...Who will not be so boxed in by our expectations of Him.
God's word of declaration and promise quoted above calls us to true expectations of God. Hebrews 11:6 actually gives us a name of God. It is a noun, describing the very nature of God as a Rewarder. And the verbal structure of this whole sentence conveys the idea of continuity. God is not just an occasional rewarder; rather, it is his habit to reward those who seek him. He continually shows Himself to be the Rewarder.
Do you know how encouraging this is to you and me, who are all too quick to give up in prayer?
God's nature is not changed by our giving up. In fact, if we take God at His word here, the more we get back up and ask again, the same daring request, even though we've not seen it yet, God's nature is called into action on our behalf. As in - God is being drawn into action by our faith, and His nature is Rewarding by default.
If Craig Demartino can get back on top of some of the toughest cliffs on the planet after a near fatal 100 ft fall to the ground, how much more can we rise up again in seeking out the God who wants us to know Him as our Rewarder!
So how do you and I not give up in prayer this year?
We remember who God is. Again and again. And so we go to prayer, again and again. Seeking God. And seeking of God the big answers, to the big desires, the bold aspirations, the deep needs of our lives, the lives of those around us, and the city to which we belong;
And we remember we're not alone in this quest to know and discover God and His power on our behalf. This is why we get to know one another in church - to seek God's rewarding nature together;
And we remember that God's reward may come in many different shapes, sizes, and answers - but that God will fail to respond to us should become, as we persevere in prayer, as unlikely as the Sun falling out of the Sky (If you need some references here, try: Psalm 65; Luke 18:1-8; and, Mark 7:24-30)
I'm believing God at His word that you and I together are going to experience the nature of God on our behalf as our Rewarder. This excites me greatly, and gives me serious hope for 2020! I hope it does you too!!!