Luke 18:1-8 — This parable shows the importance of being persistently prayerful! The judge is very arrogant…not sympathetic or moved easily. What chance does the poor widow have? Her persistence gave her a degree of power, or strength. She moved a man who had no reason to move!
I. Pray Always
A. Jesus’ Example
Jesus did not just give commandments about prayer in passages like Luke 18:1. He set an example. In Luke 3:21-22 Jesus was moved by his experience of baptism to pray. In Luke 5:16 some translations say that Jesus often withdrew to pray. Jesus did not seem to treat prayer as an obligation only done when considered absolutely necessary. According to Luke 9:28-29, Jesus went up the mountain to pray. Would we make the effort to travel to a place for the purpose of prayer? We need to pray expectantly. In Luke 11:1-13 Jesus taught about prayer. These passages together show that prayer must be a consistent part of our lives. We should pray always. Do not stop!
B. Paul’s Instruction
The apostle Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should pray constantly. Prayer is like a medicine that must be taken regularly to be effective. Some diseases will build up an immunity to medicines if not taken consistently, thus rendering the drugs ineffective.
II. God Is For Us
Luke 18:1-8 is about consistency in prayer, but we must not allow this parable to give us a wrong view of God. God is not like the judge in this story. God’s character is very different from the arrogant judge.
A. Matthew 6:7-8, 25-34 – Do not be worried about your life…
t is important to note Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:7-8 that when praying we are not informing God of something that he does not know. It is easy to fall into this kind of thinking because we do have to inform others in our human relationships. Other people often do not have clear insights about us. Not only does God know our needs, but he cares about us. Matthew 6:25-34 clearly teaches that in prayer we are not pushing a stubborn God to give us what we need (as the poor widow had to do). Jesus says that God provides for the birds and the lilies…how much more us!? We may question if God really cares for us, wondering if we are on God’s “good list.” Maybe we need to ask ourselves if we have been guilty of thinking that our prayers need to make up for the false belief that 1) God does not really know what we need, and 2) God does not truly care for us.
B. Romans 8:31-32 – If God is for us, who is against us?
This passage speaks of what a free giver God is. Our prayers are not an effort to pry open a stingy God!
In view of these last thoughts, why would we need to be persistent in prayer? I do not know all the answers to that question. But from experience I can draw a conclusion from psychological science. When obtaining emotional therapy, it is the one needing help or seeking change that does most of the talking. It has been shown that in many, if not most cases, talking can improve whatever situation we are in. If talking to a psychological professional, or even a good friend, can make things better, how much more can we be helped by sincerely and faithfully talking to God! How much have I cheated myself by not opening up to God more? Prayer truly can, and should, make us much different people.
III. God’s Timing
In Luke 18:7-8 Jesus speaks of God acting “quickly.” God surely does not seem to act quickly at all sometimes. How do we account for this?
2 Peter 3:3-13 – With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand
years like one day.
God’s timing is not the same as mine. I would never confuse 1,000 years with one day! Where we make a big distinction, in some sense God does not recognize the difference. God does not work on our timing, and he is never late! It is not all about us. The ultimate answers that I seek will not be provided in the here and now.
Verses 10-13 clearly show that God has the ability to do things instantly. He can make thieves look like snails! Even in human history extremely momentous events can happen very quickly. The horrors of 9/11 happened in just a few minutes, yet our country and our lives will never be the same. So when God decides to accomplish anything, he can do so “in the snap of our fingers” if he so desires. In this sense, God is very “quick.”
IV. Will We Be Faithful?
Luke 18:8 asks, ”When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” This is the important question for us! The Bible makes a strong connection between prayer and faith.
A. James 1:2-8 – Ask in faith without any doubting
Verses 5-8 refer to a change within the individual who is praying. He or she is becoming wise with God’s help. Prayer transforms us as individuals. Prayer is powerful, securing what otherwise would be bouncing around in the wind and waves!
B. Hebrews 10:35-39 – You have need of endurance
We need to have the mindset of a long distance runner. Do not stop! Baptism is a one-time event that indicates faith, taking communion is a weekly experience that shows faith, but prayer should be a daily revelator of our faith in God. A hike to the top of a tall mountain requires great persistence, but the expansive vista at the top is worth the effort. Persevering in prayer will take us to heights that make every communication with God worthwhile. What does my prayer life reveal about my heart?
—Robert Lee, 8-13-06, a.m.