Summary: Prayer is a sign of a relationship and trust in the Lord's love
This week we begin a summer series entitled, Tell Me A Story. “Tell me a Story” is a simple and shorter way to reference Jesus' use of parables. A parable is a relatable way to share a moral or spiritual lesson.
Storytelling forges connections among people, between people and ideas, and they convey the culture, history, and values. You just have to love a well thought out short story. Jesus told 36 different short stories in the gospels.
Recently, I heard a story of George Mueller, a christian reformer who lived in the mid 1800’s. He wrote down five people he would pray came to know Jesus and submit their lives. He prayed for eighteen months when the first one came to know Jesus. George said thank you to the Lord and continued to pray. After five years a second would come. He would thank the Lord and continue on. After six years a third would come to know Jesus. He would thank the Lord. He would continue to pray for the two remaining for the rest of His life. After he died, fifty two years later, the men both would come to know the Lord. Talk about a story of persistence.
Today, I would like to relay two stories told by Jesus about prayer. They both are present in the book of Luke. Luke was probably the best re-teller of stories of all of the gospel writers. He wrote about widows and politicians, pharisees and publicans, little children and adults, rich men and beggars. Luke mentions widows more than all the other gospel writers combined.
Windows especially had a hard time making ends meet in the time of Jesus in spite of the care God instructed His people to give them. The world was focused on survival and production. As such the older the widow, the less productive she became, the less valuable she was. By using a story of a widow as the main character, Jesus would have been using a story teller's method of using a counter cultural idea to teach a valuable lesson. In this case, Jesus was lifting the less important to point to an idea of more importance.
The widows of Jesus’ day had three obstacles to overcome:
No standing before the law. They had no rights.
Only a man could lodge a complaint. Women normally could not go before the court for justice. However, money and reputation could produce exceptions.
She was poor. Unlike in America, A judge sets his own agenda. He had assistants who took the “court costs” (bribe really) and depending on the amount given, they would determine, if and when, the case was heard.
Now that you have the background and want to follow along, open your bible to the beginning of Luke 18 beginning in the second verse:
2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
Many people read this and wonder, ‘so is this suggesting we are supposed to “nag” God? Is that how justice comes about?’ Just keep praying the same request over and over again until you wear God down and get what you want.
The answer is simply, NO! It’s a form of spiritual pride to believe you know what God needs to do. Prayer changes us.
Yes. As Christians steeped in His word and deed, we can see injustice, situations that need to change and crying out to God for intervention is time well spent for both this life and eternity.
Our prayers are an indicator of the status of our relationship. The more frequent, the closer the connection. The less selfish, the more inline with God's nature.
BUT only God knows what is ultimately right and wrong so by thinking we can badger Him into doing what we want or think is right, we minimize God. We also are showing the status of our relationship and our lack of faith in His good and perfect will.
As if God would hear our question about nagging prayer,
Jesus goes on to say...
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”