We will continue our study of Importunity in prayer with two more holy men, Elijah and Daniel.
Elijah’s Prayer, 1 Kings 18:41- 45
Now Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth, and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times. 44 And it came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.'” 45 So it came about in a little while, that the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:41-45)
In this account, even before Elijah began to pray for rain, God gave him an assurance that it would rain. He caused him to hear the sound of a heavy downpour. With that assurance Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel, bowed his head down on the ground, put his face between his knees and began to pray for rain. But even before he started praying, he asked his servant to go and look toward the sea, to see if rain was coming. Then six more times, while he prayed, he asked his servant again and again to go and look for rain, until rain finally came.
Here is how I see importune prayer defined from this story:
Importune prayer is prayer that has an assurance of the answer. Elijah prayed for rain with importunity because God had already revealed to him that it would rain. Therefore, if God gives us a positive assurance for the answer to our prayer we will be extra motivated to pray persistently for it. I suppose it is like a runner; if he keeps his eyes on the finish line and knows that he will cross it soon, he will run with a greater energy and endurance because he knows his prize is at hand.
Importune prayer is prayer that anticipates the answer and is eager for the answer to come. When I was younger I remember going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was at least an hour-long drive, yet I remember being so excited about getting there that I kept saying to my Mom and Dad about every fifteen minutes, “Are we almost there?” That, I think, is the same type of anticipation that Elijah experienced. He kept sending out his servant to look for rain because he knew it was coming and was excited about it. This is how importune prayers are. We anticipate the answer, and we will often question others to see if our prayers have been answered yet.
Daniel’s Prayer, Daniel 10:2-3
In those days I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. 3 I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth, nor did I use any ointment at all, until the entire three weeks were completed. (Dan. 10:2-4)
Daniel was a great, holy man of prayer. On this occasion he fasted in prayer for three weeks; he was fasting and praying to gain an understanding of what would happen to Israel in the last days (Dan. 10:14). Now the length of this fast gives us enough evidence that he prayed with importunity. But what was the reason for his importunity? What motivated him to pray and fast for so long? I believe it was because he had such a heart for his people and an earnest desire to understand what God was telling him concerning his people. Here then is our last point of definition…
Those who pray with importunity have such a great desire for the object of their prayer and for understanding the will of God concerning that object that they are willing to commit to pray and fast for great lengths of time until God gives the answer.