In prayer, sometimes you need to surrender, sometimes you need to persist.
In July 2005, we had a class with Drs. Jim & Molly Scott called, “The Transformation of the Church.” It was a very dynamic and incredible experience. One of the things that I remember most was a statement about prayer. Molly said that when we pray about a particular thing, we either need to surrender or persist.
In Scripture, there are people who surrendered regarding an issue/need: Paul, who prayed for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” finally had to surrender. The ultimate example was Jesus, who surrendered to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed, “not my will, but yours be done.”
There were also other people who persisted. Several women in the Old Testament were barren. They persisted in their prayers, and God eventually provided answers to their requests. In the New Testament, Jesus tells a story about a woman who pestered an “unjust judge” until she received her request.
Truth is, both surrender and persistence are part of the Christ-following journey. We must do both. The art is knowing which one is right/best for a given circumstance. Unfortunately, there’s no formula, but here’s what I try to do: unless and until I have a strong sense that God is leading me to surrender about a request or issue, I am going to be persistent!
Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks” (Matthew 7.7-8).
Think about the things you are praying about currently. What areas might you need to fully surrender to God? In what areas might you just need to persist?