Jesus told his disciples this parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Lk 18:1
I am reading an excellent book at the moment by Pete Greig called God on Mute
As the title suggests, it's about how we deal with life when the Lord seems to be silent.
Greig cites the example of DL Moody who is said to have had a list of 100 non-Christians for whom he prayed throughout his life. Imagine doing that. Imagine daily bringing the same string of names before God. But Moody's perseverance in prayer was rewarded. As each person was saved he crossed them off the list. 96 of those names had been crossed out before Moody died. The remaining 4 were converted at his funeral.
Moody had made a time consuming commitment to intercessory prayer. The thought of daily praying for so many people is daunting to me. Being in a pastoral role I'm committed to praying regularly and consistently for those in my care. I try to keep up to date with what's going on in their lives so that I am praying informed prayers. Sometimes those prayers are answered quickly, or even suddenly. More often than not they are answered in stages over a period of time. Frequently it's tempting to think the prayers will never be answered.
Keep a Record
I don't know if Moody ever doubted God would answer his prayers for each individual on his list. What did he think about the ones he had to keep praying for when others on the list had turned to Christ? Personally, I think it was probably faith building for Moody to keep that list with the names crossed off. He could have made a new list each time a prayer was answered and someone saved. But having the original list with all those names with lines through them surely increased his faith that even the most hard hearted souls he was praying for would come to find faith in Christ. Surely it was easier to have faith for the last 10 than the first 10.
Keeping a prayer list, together with a record of the answers when they come is an invaluable tool for prayer. It helps us to remember who to pray for. It also helps us to remember the answers God has given.
Prayer College Assignment
If you don't keep a prayer list, start one today. It doesn't have to have 100 names on it, and it doesn't have to consist solely of unsaved people. Think of a few friends or family members with specific needs and begin your list with them. Then as other needs come to your attention they can be added.
If you already keep a prayer list, encourage yourself by looking back over it and reminding yourself of all the answers to prayer you've seen.