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Entries in Persistence (1)


Praying Without Losing Heart

June 14, 2015-Luke 18:1-8

After warning about the Kingdom of God and the judgment that will initiate it, Jesus then speaks to his disciples about prayer.  Perhaps the logical connection is the reality that living in a world that is coming under the judgment of God is not easy.  Even in “easy times” the disciples of Jesus should pray in asking for wisdom and care, and giving thanks to God for His blessings.  However, difficult times would lead to an even greater need for prayer.  We will see today that prayer is an expression of our faith in God.

We Ought To Pray

Jesus establishes our need to pray by using a parable of a woman in need.  Normally a parable is explained by Jesus after the fact.  However here, Luke precedes the parable with a clear statement of what it teaches.  The first aspect of this statement is that prayer is something we “ought” to do.  There is a part of any follower of Christ that knows they “ought” to pray.  In fact, for new believers, praying can feel strange and be something that they neglect to do.  Typically a feeling of guilt will accompany this as we know we should be doing it.  It is also possible for those who have been believers for a long time to let a habit of prayer slip into neglect.  We can let the busyness of life and distractions take the place of prayer.  Yet, the oughtness of prayer is more than a duty or command. 

The woman in the prayer has an adversary who has done an injustice towards her.  She is also without the power to rectify this situation herself.  She is a woman and widowed, and both things would make it difficult for her to confront her adversary.  Thus it is necessary for her to turn to the courts for justice.  It is in a similar vein that the disciples of Jesus ought to pray.  We too have an adversary that is far greater than us.  The devil is a real being who works night and day to destroy our faith in Christ.  Injustice is one of his main tool to turn our hearts away from Jesus.  We ought to pray because we can’t fix things on our own.  We need God’s help.  1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  We are in a darkened world that is under the sway of the devil.  We are also surrounded by temptations on every hand.  Lastly, we are filled with fleshly desires that make us an easy target.  We are not enough for every situation in and of ourselves.  We need the help of our Lord and should ask for it in prayer.

It is also important to see that the end we desire calls for prayer.  If we desire to participate in the Kingdom of God then it is necessary that we pray.  Prayer is the means by which we wrestle with God over our situation in life.  Without prayer our faith will quickly perish under the barrage of questions and doubts.

Lastly we ought to pray because it is only right and proper that we do so.  As children of God we should call upon our Heavenly Father for wisdom, aid, and benefit.  To not call upon Him and rely upon Him is not just independence.  It is a rejection.  Just picture a young toddler who will not allow a parent to help and stubbornly insists on doing everything themselves.  How about a young teenager?  Even as adults we need others to help us in life.  Thus it becomes a sin to have a loving Father and yet reject Him at every hand.  In the parable the woman approaches a judge who couldn’t care any less about her.  Yet, she still approaches him.  What a contrast to our Father in heaven.

We Ought To Pray Always

Luke adds the word “always” to this spiritual truth.  In the parable we are told that the woman troubles the judge.  He doesn’t want to help her, but she keeps bothering him, or dare we say nagging.  The word translated “always” could also be translated, “at all times.”  She has a particular problem that she wants fixed.  But because the judge isn’t doing anything about it, she continues to badger him for help.  Now the judge in the story is not helping because he doesn’t care about her.  But God does care about us.  We might think this means God will answer us immediately.  However, prayer is not about us telling God what we want and Him doing it in a knee-jerk reaction.  Prayer is not just a request.  It is a relationship.  Thus the believer will find themselves continually coming back to God for particular things and for the never ending parade of new things to pray for.  Prayer is not something we can “finish.”  It is a daily conversation with God regarding our life and His hand in it.  In life we will receive many injustices and situations that are worthy of much prayer.  Thus we should persist in our prayers instead of quickly giving up.  God loves us and cares for us.  Yet, He is wiser than we are.  Prayer helps us to understand God’s plan in our lives.

We see the phrase, “praying at all times” in Ephesians 6:18.  This is right at the end of the passage about putting on the armor of God.  It is then that we are told to pray.  “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.”  Thus prayer is part of the work of the soldier of God.  We are in a battle against spiritual forces.  We must be armored up and we must be praying at all times and in all ways.  At all times is not just about persistence in prayer, but it is also about the many different things we encounter in life.  Everything that we encounter in life will call for some kind of prayer.  Some things will call for praises and thanksgiving.  Others may call for confession and repentance.  We will often have need to petition God on our own behalf and on behalf of others.  Everything we encounter should be bathed in prayer and petition of some sort.  When our life falls short of this we begin to affect our discipleship in Christ.

Now the woman’s persistence and “always” bothering the judge gets her what she wants.  We cannot say that such persistence will always work with God.  However, such persistence will help us to grow and become more like Christ, as well as help us to receive things from God that we would not have received without asking.

We Ought To Pray Without Losing Heart

There were many things that could have made the widow lose heart.  Now the word “to lose heart” is defined as follows: to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.  This woman is coming before a judge who does not fear God and thus is not concerned about justice.  Neither does he care about the woman to give her help.  These things alone could cause her to lose heart and give up.  Even if she had enough strength to ask several times, she could have wearied out too quickly.  It is important that we do not become exhausted in our prayers with God.  Too many people get offended or tell themselves that it doesn’t work and they quit praying.  Don’t do this.  Often God is simply testing our faith to see if we really do believe that He loves us and will help us in life.  There are also some things that He has purposed to only give in answer to persistent, faithful prayer.  So the next time you are tempted to give up on prayer, you might ask yourself just who has a vested interest in you ceasing your prayers.

Persistence in prayer is ultimately about faith in God, which is why Jesus ends with a question about whether or not he will find faith when he returns.  Jesus tells us that God has a speedy judgment planned to avenge the righteous of all the injustices they have experienced.  This speedy judgment is clearly linked to the coming of the son of man, aka Jesus.  Jesus is coming back to give a judgment on behalf of the saints.  However, how many believing people will he find when he returns?  I don’t think Jesus asks this to imply he won’t find any.  But, rather, it seems to function more as a personal challenge to those who hear it.  Will he find faith, in me?  This question has a tendency to give life to those who are weary and stir up the faith of those who are spiritually fainting.  Thus persistence in prayer not only comes from faith, but it also strengthens our faith as well.  The enemy is daily working to chip away at our ability to trust the way of the master, Jesus.  As we lose faith in Jesus, we will let down in prayer and that prayerlessness will precipitate defeat in our life.  Don’t let the enemy steal the victory that God has reserved for you.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and daily approach him in prayer for the needs and praises of that day.

Praying Without Losing Heart mp3