We are in chapter 8 of The Circle Maker today, and this chapter focuses on something I have been having a tough time with here lately: Persistence. I know persistence is the key to accomplishing most things, but if I am totally honest with you (which I really want to be), then I have to say that I am just plain tired. It is HARD to pray for the same thing for a really long time and feel like little progress is being made. Obviously, this is why the Lord has me in this chapter right now; He is trying to teach me something. Let's see what it is.
Batterson opens this chapter talking about how Japanese students tend to score higher than American students on standardized math tests (not my favorite thing, though appropriate as my students are taking our state's standardized math tests today and tomorrow). He talked about a comparative study done between Japanese students and American students which focused more on effort than actual ability. The goal of the study was to see whether persistence had anything to do with higher success rates. First grade students were given a puzzle to solve, and the study found that American students averaged giving up after 9.47 minutes, while the Japanese students keep trying until an average time of 13.93 minutes. About 40% longer. He mentions a similar study with violinists. His point is that our persistence at a certain thing has a direct correlation to our success at that thing.
"[Prayer} is a habit to be cultivated."
It is an interesting concept. I don't think I have ever really thought about "cultivating" my prayer life. I have mostly just thought of it as something I do. But the idea of working at it to improve, to find success in it is intriguing to me.
In talking about the importance of persistence in prayer, Batterson turns to Elijah. Elijah was praying Israel out of a three year drought, and as he prayed, he would tell his servant to look out to the sea for a sign of rain.
"So Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, fell on his face and prayed for rain. Six times he told his servant to look out to the sea, but there was no sign of rain. And this is when most of us give up. We stop praying because we can't see any tangible difference with our natural eyes. We allow our circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances."
That leapt off the page and slapped me right in the face.
I do this ALL the time. I feel like I have been praying for the same thing forever, and it feels like nothing is changing. So what do I do? I give up!
I stop praying because "it's not working."
How ridiculous. How embarrassing to even be able to write that.
But Elijah stuck with it, and the rain came.
Oh, how that speaks to my soul. My rain is becoming a mother. And I will be honest, there are a lot of days when I feel like it is just never going to happen. I am years into wanting this, and there are days when I feel no closer to having children in my home. It makes me want to give up. But we see time and again in God's Word that we must be persistent.
I am working on this in my own life. Committing myself to prayer each day and spending time in God's Word. I am praying that God will help me be persistent in my praying! How clear is the weakness of mankind in that one statement alone! But God can do it, and I believe He will do it. I believe He will strengthen my prayer life and help me to be persistent so that He can watch me bask in the joy of all of His kept promises.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for He who promised is faithful."
"He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it."
I Thessalonians 5:24