The word “importunity” in the original signifies impudence or want of shame. It is a metaphor taken from beggars who are impudently importunate and take no denial. If you deny them once, they will ask you again, and again, and never leave till they get what they desire. Importunity is a gathering together of all the affections of the soul, a stirring them all up in prayer, whereby the soul is so earnestly desirous of the good it wants that it will not rest nor leave off the duty until it finds some return or answer to prayer. This is meant in Rom. 12:12, “continuing instant in prayer.” The original word is very emphatic—it notes not only to persevere, but to persevere and continue with utmost strength; to engage all of a man’s possibility in the work. It notes urgency and fervency. It is a phrase borrowed from dogs who are on a hunt and will not cease following the game till they get it…. So you are to hunger after God, and after mercy, and not rest satisfied till God grants the mercy you stand in need of.
The foundation of importunity proceeds from the largeness and greatness of God’s power, and the riches and freeness of His grace towards us. A man may ask of another man, and it may be received, but then he must not ask again. But herein appears the power, the ability, the goodness, and the bounty of God: If we ask Him once or twice, He is a God that is able to give, not according to our asking only, but above what we ask; and not only above what we can ask, but above what we can ask or think. The words are so full that they cannot well be expressed, “God does more than excessively.” God has not only a fullness of abundance, but of redundancy; not only of plenty, but bounty. He is better than our prayers.
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