Read Luke 9:51
When Jesus tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God,” the very word “seek” implies a strong-minded pursuit. J. B. Phillips paraphrases the idea with “set your heart on.” The Amplified Bible says, “Aim at and strive after.” The Greek text of Matthew’s Gospel states a continual command: “Keep on continually seeking. . . .” The thought is determination, which I define as “deciding to hang tough, regardless.”
We need to keep in mind the difference between natural sight and supernatural vision. When we look at life with vision, we perceive events and circumstances with God’s thoughts. And because His thoughts are higher and more profound than mere horizontal thinking, they have a way of softening the blows of calamity and giving us hope through tragedy and loss. It also enables us to handle times of prosperity and popularity with wisdom.
I’ll be frank with you. I know of no more valuable technique in the pursuit of successful living than sheer, dogged determination. Nothing works in ministry better than persistence—persistence in godliness, determination to stay diligent in study, persistence in commitment to the priorities of ministry, determination in working with people. I often remind myself of those familiar words in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” That’s a nice way of saying, “Hang tough! Do it when it comes naturally and when it is hard to come by. Do it when you’re up, do it when you’re down. Do it when you feel like it, do it when you don’t feel like it. Do it when it’s hot, do it when it’s cold. Keep on doing it. Don’t give up.”
That is persistence and determination. Staying at it. Hanging tough with dogged discipline. When you get whipped or when you win, the secret is staying at it.
“By running and exercising every day, you are the fitter to run in a race. Just so, the oftener you come into God’s presence–the greater confidence, and freedom, and enlargement it will bring to your soul.”
No doubt by praying we learn to pray; and the more we pray–the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays by fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which avails much.
Prayer is good,
the habit of prayer is better,
but the spirit of prayer is the best of all.
It is in the spirit of prayer, that we pray without ceasing.
It is astonishing what distances men can run, who have long practiced; and it is equally marvelous for what a length of time they can maintain a high speed after they have once acquired stamina and skill in using their muscles.
Just so, great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom, if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob’s all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord’s most choice and wonderful prayer with His disciples before His Passion, as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.
A man who becomes a great runner has to put himself in training, and to keep himself in it; and that training consists very much of the exercise of running. Those who have distinguished themselves for speed have not suddenly leaped into eminence, but have long been runners.
Just so, if a man dreams that he can become mighty in prayer just when he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elijah, which shut up Heaven and afterward opened its floodgates–was one of a long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh that Christian men would remember this!
Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer!
Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the church. But it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat, that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men.
O Jesus, by whom we come to God, seeing You have Yourself trodden the way of prayer, and never turned from it–teach me to remain a suppliant as long as I remain a sinner, and to wrestle in prayer so long as I have to wrestle with the powers of evil. Whatever else I may outgrow, may I never dream that I may relax my supplications.
All of us make tracks through the valley of failure. Then the key question is, What we will do next? Sadly, many believers who stumble give up a vibrant kingdom-serving life for a defeated existence. But failure can also be a chance for a new beginning of living in Christ’s strength.
In pride, Peter thought his faith was the strongest of all the disciples’ and swore that even if the others left Jesus, he never would (Mark 14:29). Yet when the time of testing came, he denied even knowing Christ–and did so three times (Matt. 26:69-75). Satan hoped the disciple would be so wounded by his own disloyalty that his faith would be undermined by shame, condemnation, and despair.
Likewise, when the Enemy sifts believers today, his goal is for us to become shelved and ineffective for God’s kingdom. That’s why he goes after our strengths, especially the areas in which we proudly consider ourselves invincible. But if we’re willing, the Lord can use our failures to do spiritual housecleaning, as He did in Peter’s life. After the resurrection, Jesus met with the disciple personally and restored him, preparing him to become a great leader in the early church. He made it clear that Peter’s potential to serve was defined, not by failure, but by his unwavering love for Christ.
Peter laid down his pride, received the healing Jesus offered, and put on courage with the Holy Spirit’s help. He then risked his life fearlessly to further the gospel, and many came to Christ through his example. Failure was the catalyst that grew in him a stronger, more authentic faith.