“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Keep on Knocking, by Randall D. Kittle

Once while Abraham Lincoln was president, a woman came and stood day and night in front of the White House asking to see him. It didn’t matter if it was cold or raining, day in and day out she came just the same, petitioning the guards to let her speak with the president. This was in the midst of the Civil War at a time when the war was going poorly for the North. Week after week passed and still she stood at the gate, her request unchanged and unanswered. One day a guard explained the impossibility of meeting with the president due to his hectic schedule with the war. He offered instead to arrange for her to see another official who might be able to help. Thanking him she declined, insisting that only President Lincoln himself could help her.

Although she was hard-pressed and things appeared hopeless, her vigil hadn’t gone unnoticed. President Lincoln began to inquire about this “woman at the gate.” His inquiries proved fruitless. No one knew what she wanted to speak to him about, since she insisted he was the only one who could help. Finally, President Lincoln told the guards to invite the woman into the White House. Upon meeting the president the woman fell to her knees sobbing — imploring him to pardon her youngest son. The woman’s husband and two oldest sons had already been killed fighting in the Civil War. Her youngest son had then enlisted, but when the battle began he had become frightened and ran off. They had caught him, tried him for desertion, and he was even now awaiting execution by firing squad. “He’s all I have left,” she cried, “I can’t give any more to save the Union!”

The woman’s persistence had won her an audience with the president, and her story was heard by one who cared deeply and could understand. With a tear in his eye President Lincoln responded, “I may not be able to save the hundred who fall in battle this day, but I can save this one.” And with that he wrote a letter of clemency — pardoning the woman’s son. Because of her persistence and the president’s caring heart, her son was set free.

As believers, we are called to be like this “woman at the gate.” The Bible says that God
“is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Notice this verse does not say He is a rewarder of those who seek Him, but those who diligently seek Him. God delights in those who persist in petitioning Him with their requests.

One of the most popular Bible verses on prayer is
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). This verse has been quoted so often that it might be useful for us to step back and see it in context. Jesus said this in conclusion to the parable of the friend at midnight. In that parable the Lord said if you have a friend who comes knocking on your door at midnight asking to borrow some bread because someone has stopped in for a surprise visit, you are likely to respond “Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything” (Luke 11:7). Nevertheless, if they continue to knock on your door “even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (Luke 11:8). God is saying if you knock … and knock … and knock, you will receive because of your importunity.

When we seek something in prayer, we so easily become discouraged if the answer doesn’t come right away. We might knock — and knock again, and then say, “Well, I’ve asked. Now it’s all up to God.” But the truth we need to apprehend is that it is up to us to diligently pray prayers of faith — to knock and keep on knocking. If we will, our gracious God will reward us with the answer we so diligently seek!

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