Persistent Prayers

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Episode Synopsis

A look at Isaiah 62:6-7, where God invites us to pray persistently, almost rudely.

Audio Transcript

Jani Ortlund: Hello everyone. We’re so glad to welcome you today. My name is Jani Ortlund and I’m here with my friend, Heidi Howerton.

Heidi Howerton: Hello guys. It’s good to see you. Well, I guess I’m not seeing you today. It’s good to be here with you today.

Jani: We love these times of recording, don’t we, Heidi?

Heidi: Yes. I only wish everybody else was here in the room with us and we could have one big group together and talk about all these things.

Jani: We thank you for how so many of you are responding to us at our website and we love the interaction we’re getting. Thank you for that. We wish we could sit face-to-face as Heidi has said. Someday, someday we will around the Throne.

Our Talks on Prayer (A quick Review) 00:54

Jani: But for today we want to continue in our season of talking about going deeper with God. We’ve been talking about prayer, haven’t we, Heidi.

Heidi: We have been—so many different aspects of prayer, Jani. We’ve talked about praying Scripture. We’ve talked about using prayer journals and prayer notebooks. Tell me what you have in mind for today?

Jani: Well, we’ve been talking about Mary Kassian’s idea of some prayer CPR, haven’t we? We’ve talked about the “C” standing for commit. That means committing to a daily time of prayer. And Heidi, you and I have talked about how we even want to spend a certain amount of time in prayer.

Heidi: Yes, if I don’t sit down and think, okay, I want to spend a certain amount of time and this is when I’m going to do it, my prayers will often be brief little messages to God throughout the day, which isn’t wrong, but it’s so sweet to spend a solid chunk of time with him.

Jani: Yes. So we want to commit to a specific time each day, not being legalistic but being encouraging, helping each other. It’s motivating. So the “C” stands for commitment. The “P” stands for plan – planning out your prayer life. Heidi, how have we been talking about that?

Heidi: We’ve talked about using a prayer notebook, Jani, like you’ve mentioned, which is just a three ring binder with different sections and we’ve talked about using the prayer journal that I developed based off of your prayer systems. Having a plan, going to God with the thought in mind, “God, how do I adore you? Lord, let me confess my sins to you. God, here are all the things you’ve blessed me with that I’m so thankful for. And Lord, here are the requests that are on my heart for today.”

Jani: Yes, that wonderful way we use the word A.C.T.S. to help us pray.

Jani: And now we’re on the “R”, which stands for relying on God’s word, his Spirit, his promises. We’ve been saying that prayer is different from everything else in our life. It’s just raw spirituality. It’s our conscious, verbal dependence on the God of the universe. And we’re going to look today at prayers that are a little bit rude, a little bit pushy.

Lessons on Prayer from Isaiah 62:6-7 3:13

Jani: Now from the time our kids are little, we want them to learn to be courteous, don’t we? So our listeners…you may be wondering, “What are Jani and Heidi going to talk about today about being rude to God?” Heidi, one of the things I love when I spend time with you and your family is that you like to teach your kids to be courteous.

Heidi: The Lord helps me day by day. Some days I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job at it.

Jani: Well, this week we were at Costco together. You very kindly offered to help me when I had a big load to get there and you brought your three kids along and I was so impressed. You were teaching them to help me lift the heavy boxes of canned goods and the heavy container of laundry detergent.

Heidi: What you’re missing there is that James was climbing on the side of the refrigerator and Gideon wanted to touch everything, and, you’re so kind, Jani.

Jani: Well, but one thing I noticed was when we were at the bakery section, we asked for a cookie and the lady who gave them to your children was so impressed because you made sure they said “Thank you” and you also required that they look her in the eyes.

Heidi: Yes, I think eye contact is something that’s hard and so my hope is that if I teach them to do it when they’re little, it won’t be so intimidating if they get older. But that’s so kind of you. I try to teach them to be courteous. It’s a constant struggle.

Jani: Yes, we do want to be courteous. God is all for courtesy, but he says some surprising things about prayer in the Bible and I want us to look at those today. So Heidi, let’s start by looking at Isaiah 62:6-7. Will you read those for us?

Heidi: I’d love to, Jani. We’ve talked about these verses a few times over the last few podcasts and I’m excited to dive deeper into it today. Isaiah 62:6-7:

“On your walls, O Jerusalem,
    I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
    they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance,
    take no rest,
and give him no rest
    until he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes it a praise in the earth.”

Isaiah 62:6-7

Jani: Thank you, Heidi. We’re going to just walk through those verses and see what prayer is.

Prayer is Divinely Appointed 5:35

Jani: The first thing we can see is that prayer is divinely appointed. It comes from God. He is the one who ordains it. God is the one who calls us to pray. He invites us to talk with him. He is the one who answers those prayers that he encourages us to pray. The Bible says in Romans 8:27 that he even sends his Spirit to intercede for us according to his own will. Oh, prayer is divinely appointed. I love that.

Prayer is of God, and we see in our passage here that God appoints prophetic intercessors. Listen to that very first phrase, “On your walls, O, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen.” This is God talking.

Now this Jerusalem, “on your walls, O Jerusalem” is the center of spiritual life and activity. On the walls of all the spiritual activity around us, God sets watchmen, prophetic guardians like, oh, I like to think of them as sentries on a city wall to watch and to pray.

Dear Listener, you and I and Heidi, since we know Jesus as our Lord, we are his watchmen set on the walls of the spiritual Jerusalem of this generation. God has set us there. He has appointed us for this job. God is the one calling us to pray. Prayer is divinely appointed.

Prayer is Prophetic (like a security system) 7:16

Jani: Now we also can see that it’s prophetic. God says in this verse, “I have set watchmen.” Watchmen. What are they? They’re like sentries, like a security system. Heidi, do you have a security system here at the farmhouse?

Heidi: We do, Jani. Do you?

Jani: I do. Yes. Ray and I have a security system. You know, we wouldn’t need one if there weren’t people who are evil out there wanting to get in. You don’t need a watchman if you don’t fear an enemy attack. But God is saying there is an enemy out there and he wants us to be his watchmen. We, our children, our families, our churches, our Christian schools, our para-church ministries, this podcast, our mission organizations, radio programs, blogs…we, we as Christians are involved in the greatest and most significant battle of all time: the consummation of God’s kingdom on Earth. We are here for a mighty purpose, and God is asking us to be watchmen. He’s setting us as watchmen over the mighty purpose to which he has called us, and he calls us to pray as those watchmen. So in our day-to-day tasks…what are you going to do today after we record, Heidi?

Heidi: I’m going to make my littles lunch, put them down for naps.

Jani: And then you’ll probably be on your computer doing Renewal Ministries work …

Heidi: A little bit later in the afternoon, yes.

Jani: Yes.

Heidi: Just simple, mundane things.

Jani: Yes. So we in our laundry, our housework, our shopping or bill writing or play practice or music lessons or birthday parties or emails or gardening—it may not feel like it, but we are involved in a world wide kingdom advancing movement, and God has set us as watchmen over that.

Heidi: I love that, Jani, to think of the simple things that we do day in and day out that nobody but our families might notice (laundry, dishes driving), that it’s there for a significant purpose for God.

Jani: Yes, yes. Sometimes we’re aware of that, aren’t we? But other times we’re not. So let’s remind each other. There is a great spiritual conflict being waged between ultimate good, which is God himself, and all those who hate him and his ways. We are the watchmen, the sentries God has placed in our generation on the walls of our Jerusalem. We need a sense of our times. We’re warriors, so let’s develop a watchman mentality.

Heidi: That’s so helpful, Jani. This specific podcast isn’t about spiritual warfare, but it’s good for me to remember that we are in a battle. It reminds me of 1 Peter 5:8,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

Jani: Hmm. That’s good. And hard, but it’s good to remember that that’s who we’re fighting against. So we want to be watchmen, guardians, custodians, caretakers.

Jani: There’s a very interesting verse in Isaiah 56:10 where Isaiah says that God’s watchmen are sometimes blind. He calls them watchmen “without knowledge”. He says they’re all silent. They cannot bark. It’s kind of like a silent dog. They cannot bark. They’re dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. We have a dog and one of the reasons we have her is as a watchdog. When Ray is gone late into the evening, he likes it that there’s a dog there to help guard me. What good would a silent watchdog be? Oh my goodness.

Heidi: That’s so convicting, Jani, because so many times I feel like a silent watchdog. I don’t feel like I take my stand to be a watchman like the Lord calls me to.

Jani: Yes, let’s not be silent. Oh dear listener, who is watching over your family in prayer? Who is the watchman on the wall of your home, your school, your neighborhood, your church, your leaders in your church, your pastor and elders and deacons, and Sunday school teachers? Who cares through prayer for the people God has brought into your life? This passage in Isaiah 62 tells us that we are set on the walls of our Jerusalem by God himself as watchmen, as alert, praying, involved guardians over those in our own spiritual community.

Prayer is Persistent 12:20

Jani: Well, I find the next phrase in our verse really interesting. It says this, “All the day and all the night they shall never be silent.” These watchmen, they shall never be silent. So what Isaiah is telling us here is this is not just a prayer meeting. It’s a prayer mentality, a mode of operation. I should always be ready to pray. Living in an attitude of continual open communion with God Almighty. So we’re watching TV as a family and an advertisement comes on and I pray for my sons to remain pure. Or a phone call comes in and I stop after I’ve finished and talk to God about it. Or I’m in the middle of a difficult meeting and I, I keep a silent conversation going on with God while I’m still involved and engaged with others. I’m saying, “Help me Lord, calm me, give me wisdom. Oh, give me openness to that idea.”

Heidi: I love how Pastor Ray describes it. He talks about that while we’re having a horizontal conversation with somebody across from us, we’re also always in a vertical conversation with the Lord above.

Jani: Yes, that’s exactly the point here, Heidi. Thank you. Persistent prayer that “all the day and all the night, they shall never be silent”—persistent prayer springs from an eagerness, an eagerness to protect, to be victorious, to care for others. We in a sense, are watchmen calling to one another, “Six o’clock and all is well on my part of the wall. How are things over on your part, Heidi?”

Heidi: Falling down! (laughter)

Jani: I think I see someone approaching there! Oh my goodness. Prayer is persistent. That’s what we want to see here. Now I’m a chatter box. As you know, Heidi, I love to talk!

Heidi: And I love when you talk!

Jani: Well, fortunately this is one area where God says it’s okay not to be quiet—in prayer. We’re to be persistent in it. So we’ve seen prayer is divinely appointed. It’s prophetic, we’re watchmen and it’s persistent. “All the day and all the night they shall never be silent.” Oh, that’s amazing.

Prayer is Strenuous 14:56

Jani: What else do we see in this verse? Well, it goes on to say, “You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest.” I think this means that prayer is strenuous. Prayer is hard work. Prayer is the opposite of resting, taking it easy. Brief spurts of praying activity are not necessarily faith at work. Real faith prays.

Jani: Now faith at work in prayer doesn’t mean an agitation of spirit. This isn’t a call to worry and it shouldn’t make us exhausted. Isaiah is talking about that dogged determination to remain vigilant, to pursue God with your prayers, to keep asking, to keep seeking, to keep knocking, to “pray without ceasing” as Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. To pray “at all times in the Spirit with, all prayer and supplication” as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18. I believe that the more we pray, the more we take to heart that part of the verse in Isaiah 62 that says “All the day and all the night they shall never keep silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest.” That’s part of being a watchman. You must never cease to cry out to him. Take no rest. Do not keep silent.

Jani: Whenever there is an opportunity, whenever there is a need, whenever there’s that desire in your heart, don’t keep silent. Pray. Prayer is strenuous. It’s intense, it’s vigorous, it’s energetic, it’s zealous, it’s earnest, it’s eager, it’s diligent. “Take no rest.” Now how can God tell us that? Well, he knows that someday we will enter into eternal rest and our time for prayer will be over because we will get to see him face to face in eternal communion and delight. But until then, take no rest in your prayers.

Prayer is almost Rude 17:23

Jani: Well, we’ve seen in our verse that prayer is divinely appointed, it’s prophetic, it’s persistent, it’s strenuous. And let’s just go through one more point before we close up today. I think it shows us that prayer is rude. It says this, “Take no rest and give him no rest.” Isn’t that amazing? God invites us to pester him.

Heidi: And to keep asking again and again and again and again. That encourages me. Sometimes I think I’ll pray for this and, “Oh, the Lord hasn’t answered it and maybe I should just stop. Maybe it’s bothering him.” But this, I love how this makes it sound like, “No, it’s not bothering him. Heidi, keep coming.”

Jani: Yes, I love that too, Heidi. That’s so good. “Give him no rest.” There’s a sense of urgency in these words, a pressing in, an almost oh, an unmannerliness, if I could make up that word, almost a rudeness in praying. God has a high tolerance level. Let’s ask ourselves “Are my prayers to genteel, too polite, too reserved?” Let’s be people who take risks in our prayers. Think of Jacob in Genesis 32:26 where he tells the Lord, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And then the Bible says he wrestles with God!

Heidi: I love that verse.

Jani: It’s almost like he’s trying to pin God down. Now that is a risky prayer. I would call it rude.

Jani: Or what about the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:22-28. We won’t take time today to read those, but dear listener, if you want to go to that, open up your Bibles to Matthew 15:22-28. This woman, a Canaanite, a Gentile, she’s not a Jew, she comes to Jesus because her daughter is demon possessed and she will do anything to help her daughter. And she cries out. Now her crying out bothered the disciples. They were bugged at her and they asked Jesus to send her away. She comes and she kneels at his feet, pouring out her request before him. And what is Jesus’s response? “Great is your faith.” Jesus doesn’t rebuke her. He affirms her persistence as faith. So when you feel that you might be a little bit rude in your prayers by continuing to come back to God with the same request, remember this story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman. He sees that as faith. You believe that God will ultimately answer so you are going to keep pestering him until he does.

In closing… 20:33

Jani: Well, we’ve seen today that prayer is divinely appointed. It’s prophetic, it’s persistent, it’s strenuous, it’s almost rude. Dear Listener, what are you praying for these days? Let God restore your soul with his kind invitation to take no rest and give him no rest until he answers. God bless you.

Thank You

Thank you for joining us today. To discover more about Jani and Ray, visit their webpage at renewalministries.com. If you have a question for Jani or would like to learn more about this podcast, please visit our website at herestoresmysoul.org.

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He Restores My Soul with Jani Ortlund seeks to encourage women with God’s renewing power for their busy lives. Episodes include relevant biblical teaching, stimulating gospel conversations with other Christians, and “Ask Jani” sessions where we talk about what’s on our listeners’ hearts.

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