“Don’t you think your mom and me are Christians?” Dad said, “We took you to church every Sunday.”
A few weeks later, dad and mom said, “We are happy for you.” It was disappointing they didn’t see the need for Christ in their lives.
About 18 years later, dad said, “You wasted your engineering degree being involved in Christian ministry.” Dad later became a financial supporter and very supported of my full-time vocational ministries.
What are some principles that contribute to answered prayer? Luke 18 says the number one principle is “don’t lose heart.” Many times, I lost heart praying for dad because he never wanted to listen about matters of faith.
1. Don’t lose heart
Christ shared a parable that at all times they should pray and not lose heart. An unrighteous judge gave legal protection to a widow because she kept coming to him. Like this judge, God will bring about justice speedily to His children who cry to Him day and night because of their faith (Luke 18:1-8). Don’t lose heart since God answers persistent prayer.
It was humbling waiting on God to answer my prayer. I kept reminding myself that He was in control and loved dad more than I did. I wasn’t superior to dad even though he didn’t believe in Christ personally.
2. Humble yourself
Jesus told a parable about a man who trusted in his righteousness and viewed others with contempt. Two men went to the temple for prayer: a Pharisee and tax-gatherer. The Pharisee boasted he wasn't like other people: swindlers, adulterers, or like this tax-gatherer. He fasted twice a week and paid tithes. The tax-gatherer said, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" This man was justified rather than the Pharisee
(Luke 18:9-14). Humble yourself to be exalted.
Would I trust Christ’s promise with child-life faith that God desires all men, including my dad, to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth?
3. Embrace a child-like faith
Let children come to Christ and don't hinder them because the kingdom of God belongs to them. One enters the kingdom like a child (Luke 18:15-17).
Embrace a child-like faith to enter God’s kingdom.
In 1985, dad asked if I would join his business and sell business forms to car dealers in eastern Nebraska. I declined, sensing God’s call to become a missionary at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This took faith like a child's to decline the opportunity that my dad was offering me.
4. Look for eternal rewards
A ruler questioned Jesus on what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said no one is good except God alone and told him to keep the Ten Commandments. After the ruler said he kept them, Jesus told him to sell all he possessed, distribute to the poor, and have treasure in heaven by following Him. As an extremely rich ruler, he went away sad. Jesus said it is hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. After Peter said he and the disciples left their home to follow Christ, He said all who left house or family for the sake of the kingdom of God will receive many times as much in this life and in the age to come, eternal life (Luke 18:18-30).
Value eternal rewards by rejecting a worldly life.
Dad strongly questioned my decision whether our young family would make it financially. I chose eternal rewards in making my decision.
5. Suffer persecution
Jesus took the twelve aside and said that in Jerusalem, He would be mocked, mistreated, scourged, and killed by the Gentiles, and rise again on the third day. What He said was hidden to the disciples since they couldn't understand
(Luke 18:31-34). Suffer persecution to follow God.
Because God is long-suffering and we should be like Him, He kept encouraging me to pray persistently, boldly and specifically for my dad’s salvation whether I felt like it or not. The evil one often whispered, “Why waste your time praying. You know it won’t make any difference!” James says to pray without doubting (James 1:6).
6. Pray persistently, boldly and specifically
While Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar learned that He was walking on the road and cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Others sternly told him to be quiet, but he kept crying out. Jesus commanded that he be brought to Him and asked, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He requested that his sight be regained. Jesus said, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." The blind man followed Him and glorified God (Luke 18:35-43). Pray persistently, boldly and specifically.
In 2006, I was driving home from our annual Lincoln leaders’ prayer summit. My cell phone rang and dad said, “I want to tell you that I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I also called your brother and sister about the news.” Several months before, dad was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
What a joy after 36 years of prayer to get that phone call! The last two months of dad’s life, I saw spiritual growth. Looking forward to seeing him in heaven.
Action Step: Review the six contributing factors to answered prayer. How can these attitudes that Jesus emphasized be yours? Ask God to strengthen that attitude in your life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
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