When it comes to playing with her ball, my little dog is determined not only to enjoy it fully, but to find innovative ways to involve everyone she encounters in this love of her life. She is the model of persistence, and she gets results.
I have a book that contains ideas that I love more than anything. One of the many good things it heralds is persistence. The book is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The author, Mary Baker Eddy, who also established this newspaper, wrote in a discussion of what is required to accomplish spiritual healing: "There is nothing difficult nor toilsome in this task, when the way is pointed out; but self-denial, sincerity, Christianity, and persistence alone win the prize, as they usually do in every department of life" (p. 462).
Ideas such as this one are not new, and through her life and teaching, Mrs. Eddy discovered, articulated, and revived the healing teachings of Jesus. He taught the lesson of persistence in different ways – through parables, and through the healing work he did.
In the parable of an importunate man, the Master instructed his followers to ask until they received, and punctuated it with this verse: "For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Luke 11:5-10).
In his ministry in which he healed multitudes, Jesus requested so many times in various settings, under all kinds of conditions, that God's presence be made known palpably. And it was. This changed the world.
When I've prayed for healing for myself and others, I've grown to appreciate the persistence that's required at times. I've also come to see something about persistence itself. I once considered it to be a human quality – that one individual might be persistent and another might not. But I'm realizing that as His children, we really don't do anything good independently from God. He is the source of all goodness, and He impels all good activity.
Persistence, just as other qualities, such as joy, tenderness, and strength, is God-derived. The divinity we express is not the result of human effort; it's what God is causing in us. Persistence is the reflection of the consistent nature of God. Persistent prayer then isn't asking God repeatedly for something we don't have, but aligning our thought perpetually to what God knows He has made us to be.
Persistence is ours because God is unchanging good. God, divine Love, is immovable, unerring Principle. Another synonym for God, Truth, shows He is steady, unalterable, and enduring. We could say that since God is always present and always available, and because we are inseparable from Him, we are ever with Him, appealing to Him. The Psalmist said, "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God" (Ps. 62:11). Never is it more practical to know this spiritual fact than when a challenge of some kind is repetitious.
One time I was plagued by asthma that was tenacious and extreme. This sentence in Science and Health encouraged me: " 'The darkest hour precedes the dawn' " (p. 96).
In prayer I realized that it is actually God who endures. God is eternal, forever, and this problem that had drifted into my life was nothing compared to the lasting ability, the ever goodness of God. The fact that God dwells in eternity, while sickness is part of time, was an idea that supported me, literally, when I couldn't manage myself.
"God endures" was the message that came to me in prayer, repeatedly, and I held to it tenaciously, anticipating the dawn in my thought. Once this idea really took hold, I was healed. While it took diligence, learning the lesson of persistence has blessed me and others in countless ways.
The understanding that God is in fact all, and that nothing we do is without Him, is invaluable. And it brings results.