productive patient prayer

The Philokalia has become a staple of daily reading for me.  It is what I read alongside the lucy prayingBible. The Philokalia is a collection of writings by the solitary dessert fathers.   The wisdom of the early dessert fathers is immense.  The way that they look at life in God’s presence is truly awe-inspiring.  I have learned so much from them but this morning I was reflecting on what was the best nugget of truth that I have learned that has made an impact on my life.

Evagrios the solitary said: “If you patiently accept what comes, you will always pray with joy.”

Out of all of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve read, this line it swirled around in my head for days.  Why will you always pray with Joy if you are a patient person?  When I read this originally I had just read one of the teachings of Jesus on how often to pray.

Luke 11:5-8

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

What struck me is that patience and persistence go together.  In having an attitude of persistence, you will grow in patience.

Prayer is not about getting what you want.  In spending abundant time with God you become the kind of person that asks for things that He desires for you.  What Evagrios the Solitary taught me is that without patience, your prayer life will not be productive.  Jesus seems to want us to continue to ask of Him with shameless audacity.  If we are not a people of patience how can we ever wait with the kind of shameless audacity that God desires of us?

Imagine of the man in the story was not patient.  He would have asked, and then after immediately not getting what he wanted, he would leave empty-handed.  How many times have you thought that prayer doesn’t work?

Here is what I am learning and only after 10 years of being a pastor and 16 years of becoming a Christian.  Write out what you are praying for, and stick with it.  When you don’t know what to say, silence will do for the one who knows you intimately.

To get to patience, I am learning to ruthlessly eliminate hurry.  Although, this is tough it helps to remind me of what is truly important in life.  Without patience your prayer life will not be productive. But once you learn patience, your prayer life will seem more than incredible, it will be joyful.

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  • Josh Cochran

    Pastor Dave this is so true. I often struggle with the concept of being persistent or just a bother. So many of the parables show a little of both which to me is interesting. I guess we’re not a bother to the perfect one because he truly cares but to grasp that internally is a different issue altogether.
    Keep sharing and stay faithful in your prayers, may we both do so joyfully.