Read Genesis 32
Focus on verse 26-29
This event of Jacob wrestling with what is presumed to be the angel of the Lord, might describe how persistence in prayer can help us to find the blessing God desires to give us. Jacob refuses to let go until the man blesses him… so the Lord changes his name to Israel.
Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (v. 26-29)
It would seem that it is not uncommon for even the most devout believer to have times when prayer has seemed distant and God does not seem to hear or at least is not interested in answering with any urgency.
On the other hand, we must also remember that sometimes the answer God gives us to the requests we make in our prayers is “no”, and we must be content to accept that answer. When our persistence in seeking a positive answer becomes manipulative, there is a point at which our persistence turns into rebellion in regard to accepting the will of God.
In the gospels Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow to encourage his followers to not give up too quickly when God does not seem to answer at first, and we do well to remember that effective prayer is hard work. Unfortunately it would seem that not many of us are willing to put this kind of effort in. The result is our lives are equally powerless. The spiritual giants of previous generations were all men and women who persisted in prayer, yet their persistence was offset by a humility in spirit, and perhaps that is part of what made them so effective. Persistence without humility can become rebellion, while humility without persistence is largely ineffective. Persistence balanced with humility, however, can have world changing results.