Summary: The sermon is based on one of Jesus’ parables that teaches some important aspects on prayer.
From Roman history comes the story of a Roman emperor in his chariot as a part of a parade. Cheering people lined the streets while legionaries were stationed to keep the people at a safe distance. The emperor’s family sat on a platform to watch him go by in all the pride of his position. As the emperor came near the place where his family was stationed, a young boy jumped from the platform, burrowed through the crowd, and tried to dodge a legionnaire so he could run to the emperor’s chariot. The soldier stopped him and said; "You cannot go out there, boy. Do you know who is in that chariot? That is the emperor. You cannot go near him." The little boy laughed, then said; "He may be your emperor, but he is my father." Then he ran to his father’s open arms.
There is a beautiful song that emphasizes our position as God’s children. It is entitled, "A Child of the King."
I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, and an alien by birth,
But I’ve been adopted, my name’s written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe, and a crown.
I’m a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I’m a child of the King."
The child of God is a child of the King and can approach him with as much pride and confidence as the young lad did the emperor. The means by which we do so is prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to God. It is one of the means by which we search for his will and by which he reveals his will to us. It is our source of comfort and strength for our journey through the trials and tribulations of life. It is an attitude that we are to be in throughout the day. Without it, a Christian can never be all God wants him or her to be.
Now, if prayer is so vitally important, why do surveys show the majority of Christians spend so little time in it? It does require effort. It requires some planning. It may mean getting up a little earlier or going to bed a little later. Since prayer is so important, it behooves us to find time to consult God through it. The Bible says we can come boldly before his throne of grace. If we are his children, we should want to talk to him as our heavenly Father just as we want to communicate with our earthly parents or other relatives. Jesus himself gives us an example in the need of prayer. Luke details the prayer life of Jesus more than any of the other gospel writers. He is also the author that details the prayer life of the early church in the Book of Acts. Not only must we pray often, but we should pray persistently.
Persistence in prayer is what Jesus teaches through the parables of the persistent widow and the friend at midnight. Prayer was a normal part of Jewish life. Christianity also emphasized the importance of private prayer as over against ceremonial prayer.
Jesus was nearing the end of his public ministry and moving toward Jerusalem as he told the parable of the persistent widow. He told the parable so his followers would always pray and not give up. His early followers must have been much like some Christians today. They needed encouragement in their prayer life. It is tempting to give up in our prayer life if it appears God is not listening or if it is infringing on the time we need for doing something else.
It seems that in a certain town there was a judge that feared neither God nor cared about people. In this, he laced the two most important characteristics a judge should have. Also in that town was a widow who kept coming to the judge to grant her justice with her adversary. Widows in biblical times were especially vulnerable to such people. They were unprotected, and men often took legal or financial advantage of them. Jesus does not name the offense her adversary was committing, but it probably involved some type of monetary settlement. By going to the judge, she went to the only source of help available to her.
For some reason, the judge refused to help her. Maybe the adversary of the widow was his friend. Perhaps, he was just lazy. Finally, her persistence won his aid. Perhaps, he thought she would damage his reputation if he did not help. Though he did not care about people or fear God, the persistence of the widow wore him down. Meeting her demand seemed the only way to get rid of her.
Then Jesus makes the application. We can couch it in an if then statement. If the judge, who was unjust, answered the cries of the widow, who was a stranger to him, then God, who is just and loving, will much more answer his children whom he has chosen.