Leonard Ravenhill once said, "God does not answer many prayers - they are too locked up in self-pity or aimed at personal benefit. He does answer desperate prayer." And until we get desperate for souls, our prayers for them may remain unanswered. For just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, so should we weep over our lost loved ones if we really want to see them saved.
It was seven years before Carey baptized his first convert in India; it was seven years before Judson won his first disciple in Burmah; Morrison toiled seven years before the first Chinaman was brought to Christ; Moffat declares that he waited seven years to see the evident moving of the Holy Spirit upon the Bechuanas of Africa; Henry Richards wrought seven years in the Congo before his first convert was gained at Benza Mantaka. (A. J. Gordon, The Holy Spirit in Missions)
The most incredible case of persistence is found in the life of George Muller. Because he had much success early in his ministry in seeing the immediate conversion of many for whom he had just prayed, he got the impression that it would always be that way. But listen to his testimony concerning this, "If I say that during the fifty-four years and nine months that I have been a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I have had thirty thousand answers to prayer, either in the same hour or the same day that the requests were made, I should not go a particle too far... But one or the other might suppose all my prayers have been thus promptly answered. No, not all of them. Sometimes I have had to wait weeks, months, or years; sometimes many years....
In November 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without one single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea. and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six more years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remain unconverted. The man to whom the riches of His grace has been given tens of thousands of answers to prayer, in the self-same hour or day on which they have been offered, has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these two individuals, and yet they remain unconverted." (George Muller: Delighted in God by Roger Steer)
But this is not the end of the story. He kept on praying day after day, year after year and then he said, "The great point is never to give up till the answer comes. I have been praying sixty-three years and eight months for one man's conversion. He not saved yet but he will be. How can it be otherwise...I am praying."
The day came when Muller's friend received Christ. It did not come until Muller's casket was lowered into the ground. There, near an open grave, this friend gave his heart to God. Prayers of perserverance had won another battle. Muller's success may be summarized in four powerful words: "He did not quit." (No Easy Road, by Dick Eastman)
-- Taken from a little booklet our church as been going through during our Thursday night prayer meetings: Praying Effectively for the Lost, by Lee E. Thomas
I've been convicted and re-inspired to keep praying fervently for certain lost souls who have burdened my heart for a long time. I may never see the results, but I am called to be faithful and to interceed on their behalf. I hope you will be re-inspired to keep praying for the lost people in your life, too!