Then you would have struck until you destroyed it.
2 Kings 13-14 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu became king over Israel at Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin; he did not turn from them. 3 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael. 4 Then Jehoahaz entreated the favor of the Lord, and the Lord listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them. 5 The Lord gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Arameans; and the sons of Israel lived in their tents as formerly. 6 Nevertheless they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, with which he made Israel sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained standing in Samaria. 7 For he left to Jehoahaz of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, and all that he did and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 9 And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria; and Joash his son became king in his place.
10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years. 11 He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not turn away from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel sin, but he walked in them. 12 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did and his might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 13 So Joash slept with his fathers, and Jeroboam sat on his throne; and Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.
14 When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” 15 Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” And he put his hand on it, then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. 17 He said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.” 18 Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. 19 So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.”
20 Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet.
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a parable about persistent prayer: Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” We need to understand what it is that Jesus is saying. It is not that we need to pray persistently so that we wear out God, as the woman in the parable wore out the judge. Jesus says God will not delay, He will bring about justice quickly. Why then is it necessary that we continue and pray persistently?
Today’s text offers us some insight into the benefit of persistent. It says: When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” And he put his hand on it, then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands. He said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The Lord’s arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground,” and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.” How often do we stop with a partial victory? How often are we satisfied with a partial answer to our prayers? We pray and we see breakthrough so we stop praying. We should instead, give thanks, but continue and press the attack. In Mark 8:22-25 there is an account of Jesus healing a blind man. They came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. Jesus didn’t stop with a partial healing. He continued and pressed in until the man’s sight was fully restored. That’s something we need to understand, the finished work of the cross is not so that things might be better. The finished work of the cross provides victory, restoration, healing and abundance. We are restored not to what we were, not to what others have, but rather we are restored to what God created and intended for us. We are restored to His image and likeness. In Mark 5:34 after a woman was healed Jesus said: "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." Again in Luke 17:19, after healing a man with leprosy, Jesus said: "Stand up and go; your faith has made you well." Jesus doesn’t want us to be better. He wants us to be well.
Another reason for the need for persistent prayer is found in what Jesus said to those who were healed, “Your faith has made you well.” In Mark 11:24 Jesus says: “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” In Matthew 21:22 He says: “All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Often the reason we need to pray persistently is not about God, it is about our needing to have the faith to receive born into us. We need to pray with persistence until we believe that we will receive what it is that we are asking for. Jesus taught us to pray: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It really isn’t a question of what God’s will is. The price that Jesus paid, the finished work of the cross makes it clear that God wants us to be fully restored to all that He intends. The key is that we see it and receive it here on earth, as it is in heaven. For us to fully know the will of God, for us to have the faith to believe and receive all that is ours through the finished work of the cross, we must see it from the perspective of heaven, not earth. We must pray persistently, but not as though we are far from God, that He might not hear. Rather as Hebrews 4:16 says: Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. In John 10:28,30 it says: Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, He said, “It is finished!” Knowing all things were accomplished. The answer to our every need, the answer to every prayer is already finished and accomplished, through the cross, in heaven. We need to pray persistently until we see the finished work from the perspective of heaven. Then we can receive, by faith, all that we ask.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for the finished work of the cross. May I never stop short of all that You have for me, all that the finished work of the cross has accomplished. I choose to pray persistently until I see from the perspective of heaven, until faith is fully formed in me. I will not stop and be satisfied with a partial victory. When the enemy is at bay, I will not stop, but rather I will strike the ground repeatedly until he is defeated. In the name of Jesus. Amen.