The following notes are excerpted from “How to Pray Less, Succeed More: Praying the Word of God,” a unit of Principles of Intercessory Prayer taught at Trinity EPC, 2016-18.
Do trials and temptations affect prayer? Short answer – Yes.
What is the purpose of temptations / trials? Think of it like strength training. Spiritual resistance training. Exercising our faith muscles, our trust muscles. Our prayer muscles.
The enemy uses trials and temptations to prevent us from living by faith, or from praying in faith. But God can and does use them to make us stronger, more effective.
Three particular areas of temptation can and do hinder a believer’s effectiveness to pray in faith: Patience, Perseverance, and Endurance.
Although the original Greek words have different meanings, they are sometimes used interchangeably in various translations. Lack or failure of patience, perseverance, and/or endurance can and do hinder effectiveness to pray in faith.
PATIENCE means remaining the same (keeping the same attitude), no matter what. Two main Greek words are translated patience: one means patience with people, the other means patience with circumstances.
- Patience with people: G3114 makrothyméō, to be long-spirited, meaning to keep your temper; be longsuffering, have long patience, patiently endure mistreatment by other people (without losing your temper or striking back). There’s an interesting origin of this word — it literally means to have “long feathers” like eagles and other birds that fly or soar long distances. It is translated longsuffering in some verses, patient in others.
I Corinthians 13:4, “Charity suffereth long (has patience), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (KJV)
I Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
- Patience with circumstances: G5281 hypomonḗ, cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: patient continuance during unpleasant circumstances (an attribute of God himself, available to us from the indwelling Holy Spirit):
Luke 21:19, Jesus told the disciples, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (KJV) He was referring to persecutions they would face.
Romans 15:5, Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
James 1:4, “But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Perfect here means mature, completed, finished, nothing left undone or lacking.
Hebrews 10:36, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
What will of God is he talking about? Whatever God has given YOU to do, which includes his written word and his personal assignment for you. Not everyone is called to be a pastor, or a missionary, or a school teacher, or an electrician, or a computer technician – each believer has his own assignment, God’s will for you.
What is the promise referred to, in this verse? (10:23 and 35 also refer to a promise, as do other verses in Hebrews and other NT books.) Our eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (NIV)
In Hebrews, this promised eternal inheritance is referred to in several previous verses. The kingdom of heaven / God and all that entails. Eternity. Eternal life. Ruling and reigning with Jesus.
Hebrews 10:16-17 gives us the bedrock answer to this question: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
There are necessary steps to actually receiving the new covenant, our eternal inheritance, the promise: receiving Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit, thus being inhabited by God’s spirit. The “promise of the father” that Jesus spoke of in Luke and Acts refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Several other scriptures to meditate on: 2 Cor. 1:20 and 7:1 (promises, plural); Hebrews 8:6 (better promises); and Hebrews 12:28 (we are receiving the kingdom, present tense.)
PERSEVERANCE means continuing an action, no matter what: G4342, proskartérēsis, persistency:—perseverance. From verb proskartereō, meaning to continue steadfastly. In the New Testament, it always refers to prayer:
Romans 12:12, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant (persevering) in prayer;”
Colossians 4:2, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”
Ephesians 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”
ENDURANCE means remaining in place, no matter what: G5278 hypoménō, remain, undergo, have fortitude, not recede or flee; absolutely and emphatically, under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ. This word is sometimes translated longsuffering or patient.
1 Corinthians 13:7, (Love) “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
James 1:12, “Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
Note: 2 Timothy 2:3, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In this verse, “endure hardship” is one Greek word, G2553 kakopathéō, to undergo hardship, endure afflictions, suffer trouble. It is a combination of two words, kakos meaning evil, and patheo, meaning passions.
REMINDER: “But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4)
Perfect — mature, completed, finished, nothing left undone or lacking, necessary to Praying Less, Succeeding More.