It’s pretty easy to see the value in being persistent in life. Too many people are not tenacious in the way they approach life and wonder why good things seem to never come their way. Of course, there are other factors which play into every circumstance in life but we’d all agree that if we could be a little more determined in our approach and not give up, we’d be better off. So, what is the key? Looking at several examples of persistence in the Bible you’ll notice how being consistent leads to being persistent. Here’s a prime example that Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray, He followed the lesson with the need to be persistent in prayer.
Luke 11:5–10 (ESV) — 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Look again at the man who was in need. His friend gave him what he needed, not because he was a friend but because of the man’s persistence. Wait a minute, that continual “not giving up” knocking was the result of his consistent repetition of knocking. If you want to persist in your prayer life, which Jesus is pointing out is an admirable thing to do, then you need to be consistent in your prayer life. If Jesus were to tell you that you’d be praying for something for thirty years before you’d see answer, you may be inclined not to begin because it would seem too hard to pray without an answer that long. But, if you are encouraged to pray day after day, not matter what – just being consistent in asking, seeking, and knocking as you hold on to the promise of God and relying upon His sovereignty to do what is best, then you may end up praying for something for thirty years. Consistency lead to persistence.
Another example is the apostle Paul. Consider his consistency leading to persistence.
Philippians 3:12–15 (ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
In order to be persistent in pressing to the goal, Paul showed his consistency in every day forgetting what was behind and focusing on what lie ahead. If you try to run a marathon in your mind before the race begins, the 26.2 miles looks insurmountable. If you are disciplined enough to break down the race into a consistent pace one step and one mile at a time, you’ll finish the course. This is what Paul is doing in his use of athletic example in application to spiritual disciplines. You can make great achievements if you are persistent so break the disciplines down to bite size pieces and be consistent in your approach.
1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV) — 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
The bottom line is being focused on being consistent will keep us from falling into the trap of procrastination. Procrastination starts when we think we cannot finish the task, so we figure we shouldn’t begin. The Bible calls that the thinking of a sluggard. The only way to avoid the trap of the sluggard is to be diligent in our consistency which will accomplish persistence which gets us to our goal.
Proverbs 13:4 (ESV) — 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
Are you having trouble being persistent, finding yourself not finishing things you begin, or falling short on your spiritual disciplines? Instead of beating yourself up, step back and work at being consistent one day at a time. Consistency leads to persistence which leads to the place we want to be.