The Privileged Life: The Importance of “Importunate” Prayer

“‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” (Luke 18:4b-5)

The best Christmas present I received this year was an answer to prayer.

When God answers our requests, sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes “no,” and sometimes “wait”—all according to His will. This was one of those “wait” answers for me, after several years of prayer.

When we see God’s response to any of our requests, we find that He truly listens and considers our petitions, especially situations over which we have no control. The COVID pandemic has reminded me to hold all things loosely in my hands, knowing that God is sovereign, that His plans are good…even when He says “no” at times.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray. On the contrary, it pleases God when we bring our burdens, needs, and wants to Him. His door is wide open. He listens to us—even when we pester Him for an answer.

One of the coolest words I’ve learned in recent years is “importunate.” According to Merriam-Webster, it means “troublesomely urgent; overly persistent in request or demand.”1

Jesus said we are to pray like the widow who took her problem to an unjust judge, relentlessly seeking justice against her adversary. For a while, the judge wouldn’t heed her…but eventually, he conceded, recognizing he would get no relief from her constant requests.

“Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.’” (Luke 18:6-8a)

For Jesus, this is an issue of faith. He wants us to ask in complete trust, complete acceptance that He is good. He does not resent our frequent, urgent, importunate prayers. He welcomes them, especially when we ask in His name.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said that we glorify God when we take Him at His word and plead His promises. “Think not that God will be troubled by your importunately reminding Him of His promises. He loves to hear the outcries of needy souls. It is His delight to bestow favours. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask.”2

Just as a loving father would give good gifts to his children, our heavenly Father will not withhold His grace and pardon to us when we ask for them. He delights in offering us His abundant life, regardless of our temporal situations. He has promised to freely give us His wisdom, to help us endure all things through His strength. 

Friend, if you are troubled today by a problem, a need, or a wish for which you need His help, do not give up praying about it…regardless of how many years it takes for Him to answer. His timing is always perfect. 

And every time you see His answer in the small things, take comfort—He will answer the bigger issues as well. Take your importunate prayers to Him. He loves you and hears you.

Good and gracious Lord, thank You for letting us bring our prayers to You, over and over. Increase our faith in You—help us to trust in Your plans for us. Let us hear Your answers, see Your hand at work in our lives, especially as we enter a new year. And please end the ravaging effects of the COVID pandemic soon. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/importunate

2Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening (Classic KJV Edition)

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