When the pain hit at 3:00 a.m. I thought I was dreaming about the time this girl kicked me in the groin in 5th grade. It was during recess and… o.k. that’s another post. I was not dreaming. I was in pain. I thought this pain felt familiar but I was not sure until went through a check-list of other things : hernia (no), pulled muscle (no) appendicitis (maybe, but no) it was a kidney stone. Let me just say that, a kidney stone will test your manhood and faith. I lasted four hours before I staggered into the ER at St. Vincents hospital. I was immediately escorted to a wheelchair and all I wanted was for the pain to stop. A single request. I wanted anything that would stop the pain, drugs, a hammer, whatever. I left the E.R. with my manhood shattered and broken., but I left with my faith in tact and a new appreciation for prayer, not just any prayer, but persistent prayer.
I am a professional prayer-er. I pray with kids at the altar, I pray at weddings, baptisms, and church pot lucks. I pray all the time but they are high and lofty prayers. I pray, the moment is over , and I move on. That is not persistent prayer because none of those events involved pain in my nether regions, throwing up, or the desire to die. I did not scream out, OH God! OH God! Oh God! PLEASE BLESS THIS FOOD!! PLEASE!” I don’t think the blessing of the meal requires this kind of persistent prayer unless you’re a middle school student in the cafeteria, but there are times when we need to cry out to God and be persistent in our prayers if we are to see anything happen.
Consider the parable Jesus told about the widow and the judge.
Also [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to [a]turn coward (faint, lose heart, and give up). Luke 18:1
Nothing will turn you into a coward like a kidney stone, but nothing will make you prayer persistently like kidney stone. Metaphorically, the kidney stone is our burden. It is the thing we cannot shake. It could be
– the salvation of a loved one
– a healing, your own or someone elses
– a problem or challenge that needs to be overcome
Persistent prayer is something that you cannot let go of or it will not let go of you. The widow had a spiritual kidney stone. She wanted relief, she wanted justice and she would not back down or back away until she got it for herself or someone she knew. If I had sensed that the nurses were ignoring me, they weren’t, I would have cried out louder like the widow:
“And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary.” Luke 18:3
I understand that I cannot badger God against His will. God answers all prayers with yes, no, or wait and I am willing to accept any answer He gives, but I cannot stop praying until I sense where God is leading. I also think God looks at the passion level of my prayer.
16 Confess your trespasses[a] to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16
My wife knew I was passionate about getting rid of my kidney stone. The hospital staff could see the intensity with which I wanted relief and they wanted to give it to me or else they would see me cry and whimper for hours. Once again, I cannot cry-baby an answer out of God and I don’t have to. He wants to answer my prayer more than I want Him to answer it but I also want to show Him I am dead serious about what I am asking Him for. Persistent prayer says, “God, I am not going away until I get an answer even if the answer is no.” But, look at what the judge said,
“For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” Luke 18:4
The judge gave in because the woman was relentless and, I think, the judge found a way, a loophole within the measure of the law to grant her request. Jesus called the judge unjust. We don’t know why he was unjust but it’s possible he did the widow wrong on purpose or maybe he owed someone a favor; whatever the reason he was fearful of having any of his “business” further exposed and be embarrassed by this woman.
Jesus goes on to say,
Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. Luke 18: 7, 8
God can give us justice. God is a righteous judge, but my role is to be persistent and wait. Pray and wait. I had no control over my kidney stone. That stone had to pass and I had to wait for it to do it’s thing. If I am not passionate about what I am praying for, I don’ t know if anyone should grant my request, let alone God. Passionate, persistent prayer is what tells us our pain index is a on 1-10 scale. Passion communicated how desperately in need of relief I was to those nurses. I told the nurse I was an 8 and that told them I needed pain meds NOW! Passionate, persistent prayers let us and God know we are in serious need.
When the stone passed and my crying stopped. The pain was over and I offered God, the nurses and the makers of drugs a sincere thank you. This episode of my life showed me I need to step up my prayer life from a 1 to an 8. I want relief physically, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally. I need to pray always and not quit until “it” passes and God lays something else on my heart. I get it God. Pray like I have a kidney stone. Lesson learned.
What is the pain index of your prayer life on a scale of a 1-10? Is this reflected in your prayer life?
Would you describe your prayer life as persistent and passionate? What will it take to get it there? Hopefully not a kidney stone.
I’d love your comments, especially if you’ve had a kidney stone.