Five Minutes Longer

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God bless you, and again we say, the Lord make you a blessing. We’re so glad to be with you again on Meditation Moments.

We love to talk to you from God’s precious Word, and today we’re taking a scripture from Hebrews 12:12–13: “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

You’ve often heard us say that prayer changes things, but someone has been writing that prayer didn’t change things for them. They said they tried it a few times and then they gave up. Well, later I learned that this one didn’t give God time to answer prayer; she didn’t hold on for the answer.

Time is sometimes a very important element in getting answers to prayer. Someone has wisely said it takes God time to grow an oak, or even to make a rose. Sometimes it takes time for God to answer. That I want to impress, for there are many reasons why prayer cannot be immediately answered.

I know it’s hard to understand, but someday we’ll understand many of the laws and principles of prayer and much of why we didn’t get some of our answers. But this I certainly do know, that many times prayer would have been answered had we held on just a little longer, if we hadn’t let discouragement make us give up before we had prayed through to victory. It is not that God refused us the answer, but we gave up before the answer came.

There is a fixed determination in real faith that stands this test of waiting. There are those like Jacob of old who say, “I’ll not let thee go unless thou dost bless me, Lord” (Genesis 32:26). They get down to wrestling in prayer, and search their hearts to see if they’re meeting God’s conditions. They search God’s written Word until their faith is strengthened, and they hold on and press on, regardless of every obstacle, with a dogged determination that won’t be denied. They don’t heed discouragement and weariness, but they just fight a little longer and just hold on a little longer.

It’s this “holding on a little longer” that makes the difference in how some people get answers to prayer and some do not. It’s this “a little longer” spirit, that fights on regardless of appearances or discouraging words. It isn’t that their battle is any less severe than ours, but they wouldn’t stop fighting. They just would not give up or give in to the enemy.

The Duke of Wellington, who conquered Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, said that it wasn’t that British soldiers were braver than French soldiers, but that they could be brave five minutes longer. The victory was determined by holding on a little longer.

Anything wonderful could happen in that little margin of time when you don’t give up but keep on believing and keep on praying. Robert Browning said as he faced death, “One fight more, the best and the last!”

Sometimes we just need to put up one fight more against the Enemy who’s trying to defeat us and discourage us, and just hold on the five minutes longer. Dr. Frederick Harris described this spirit in these words: “Often the deciding issue in any contest is not when one is outnumbered, but where and when one stops fighting. The final score is determined by a struggle that is pushed for just five minutes longer, to be sure in that five minutes you give God a chance rather than accept defeat. It’s a decision, just a venture to hold on in spite of appearances and consequences.”

George MacDonald declares: “The sight of a man’s back is sometimes one of the most pathetic things. It often means that someone was within sight of victory when he turned around.” Like the old hymn we sang so much, “Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail.”1

Christ’s greatest victory, as you know, was in Gethsemane. God’s Word says that in that scene He “went a little farther.”2 I wonder if we couldn’t go a little further in prayer, hold on a little longer, and be a little more determined about it.

The question is: where was it that you gave up in discouragement? When was it that you quit, you quit expecting the answer and you settled down to defeat?

A. B. Simpson, my favorite writer, says this about this verse of scripture that I read you, Hebrews 12:12–13. “This describes the fixed determination that every life must have if it’s going to be victorious and successful. We are too easily turned out of the way; we become spiritually lazy. We want something very much, but we don’t want it enough to get right down to desperate, wrestling in prayer, or in earnest continuous searching of God’s Word.”

The Lord has said, “No man stirreth himself to call upon me” (Isaiah 64:7), and God is not stirred because we are not stirred. In Christ’s story of the importunate prayer, you remember it was the lengths to which the man outside was willing to go that made the man inside open the window and give him the bread that he asked for.3 And so this scripture says, “Lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees, lest they be turned out of the way, but rather let them be healed.”

This is God’s word of encouragement to lift up the hands of faith and confirm the knees of prayer. Oh, is your faith tired and relaxed, and have your prayers lost their force and effectiveness?

The figure in this scripture is a very striking one, because we do become timid at every little obstacle, and we are tempted to walk around and not face it. We take the easy way. I don’t know what it might be in your case—some physical trouble, it might be something financial—but God is ready to meet you and God is ready to heal.

Don’t walk around it some other way. There are many ways of walking around emergencies instead of praying straight through them. There is some sacrifice to be made, some obedience demanded, some Jericho to be taken, some prayer that is hung up. Perhaps it is a physical trouble that’s only half healed, and you’re just walking around it and not facing it at all, so far as prayer and God’s Spirit is concerned.

So God’s Word says, “Lift up the hands that hang down.” Oh, my friend, march straight through the flood. The waters will divide, the Red Sea will open, the Jordan will part, and the Lord will lead you through. He can’t fail His Word. God is God and He’s true to His Word.

He’s still on the throne, and I assure you that prayer does change things. Amen.

  1. From “Almost Persuaded,” by Philip Paul Bliss (1838–1876).
  2. Matthew 26:39.
  3. Luke 11:5–8.