Breakthrough . . . after twenty-five years of praying.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36).
Jason, Greg, Scott and Mike were my closest friends throughout high school. We were inseparable. We knew the intimate details of one another’s life. Then I had to go and ruin it all by “getting religious.” In December of 1971 I bowed my knee to Jesus and the partying (literally) was over for me. New friends, those who would disciple me as a baby Christian, began to emerge.
While I never condemned my close high school friends, and, I kept my friendship with them, I no longer participated in or condoned their behavior. It was a radical change for me, but I didn’t really consider how radical of a change it was for them. The first half of my senior year of high school I was living a very ungodly life-style; while the second half was filled with “Jesus freak” meetings. My friends were confused by the change in my life. They didn’t look down upon me, they simply could not comprehend why I would no longer participate in the things we once enjoyed together. I asked God for the opportunity to share my personal testimony with each one of them – individually. Jesus honored this prayer, and before we went our separate ways after graduation, I shared about the encounter I had with my new Master.
That same year, I left my home area to serve in the military. I methodically placed Jason, Greg, Scott and Mike on my weekly prayer list. I just knew it would be a very short time until they each bowed their knees to Jesus.
Twenty five years passed, and I was still waiting, still praying. The only problem now was that I was beginning to entertain thoughts like, “Just take them off your prayer list,” and “Why transfer their names to new prayer cards, move on to more important matters.” But, thank God for my wife. One day I asked her if I should keep them on my prayer cards or just remove them. Her immediate, faith-filled response was, “Don’t you dare remove them, let’s keep praying.” Okay, so maybe I/we could persevere a few more years.
Within months of that very conversation, Scott called me from Boston. He asked me if it was okay for him to be water baptized. My very first response was, “Let me find a seat.” And then, “But Scott, have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?” He told me he had through the ongoing witness of a Baptist co-worker at IBM. I revealed to him then that I had been praying for him for over 25 years. His reply? “I know.”
Jason’s mother called me several months later. Jason was depressed and without a friend, suffering from a broken marriage relationship and addictions. Jason’s mom said to me, “Steve, I believe he’ll take your call if you will call him within the next ten minutes.” I called; we met; he prayed. I then experienced the honor of water baptizing him and have an ongoing discipleship relationship with him to this day.
A few months after the encounter with Jason, Scott called to ask if I had heard from Greg. He went on to tell me that Greg had recently started participating in the worship band of his United Methodist church and that he was signed up for a summer mission team.
Have you ever felt like giving up in prayer? I have, but let me encourage your faith to continue to persevere. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36). Because… “we are not of those who shrink back…but of those who believe…” (Hebrews 10:39).