Summary: This message is based on the parable of the persistent widow. It’s a call to prayer. It was written as the Iraqi crisis completed the first week. It concludes with directives on how to pray for our troops and our nation.
Living on a Prayer
Dr. Marty Baker / Luke 18:1-8 / March 23, 2003
Sometimes I struggle with prayer. I wonder if God can really hear me? Am I getting through? In my mind I know that prayer is the a direct line to God and that with God all things are possible, but does God have time to take me seriously?
This week God has had a lot of people on the prayer line. People all over the country have been calling on God; they have been praying for the troops in the Middle East. They have asked God to protect them, guide them, and bring them home safe.
Have you ever wondered if God can really handle the sudden infusion of heavenly interest? Is He capable of processing the important from the unimportant? Does He know who has a security clearance and who does not? At times I wonder ... I wonder if God really has time. Does he really care about my life?
If we are honest enough to admit it, most of us live as though God does not have the time to care. Because if we really believed that God listened to our prayers, we would take prayer more seriously.
As it is, most of us only get serious about prayer when times get tough. We take prayer more seriously when terrorists invade our shores or when our troops go off to war. Closer to home, we take prayer more seriously when we find ourselves in a desperate situation: maybe our spouse leaves, our child gets sick, we lose our job, or our future becomes uncertain.
In my own life, a jolt of reality has a way of waking up my prayer life. My life gets out of control and I am backed into a corner. I have no other option than to call on God. It is during these times that I wake up to the fact that God has never left me, but I am the one that wandered away. I am the one that walked away from God’s purpose for my life and decided to go it on my own. As a result of my decisions, I walk further and further away from God, away from His concern, and into the land of desperation.
Today we are going to talk about a person in the Bible who has walked a similar path. Her story is found in Luke 18 and it is one of the parables of Jesus. Over the last several weeks, we have been in a series of messages called A Jesus Story. This series is based on the parables that Jesus taught. As you may know, parables are fictional stories that feature real-life characters. Jesus used these stories to reveal the true heart of his audience. Let’s look at Luke 18.
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ’Grant me justice against my adversary.’
In this parable, Jesus is talking about a woman who was in a desperate situation. She was a widow and was being sued by an enemy. To make matters worse, she apparently does not have any support from family or friends and her opponent was demanding an unjust settlement. It appears that the facts of the case were on her side, so she went to the court system and got permission to approach a judge. The judge assigned to her case was a wicked and merciless judge and he refused to grant her the protection that she was entitled to.
4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ’Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,
5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’"
She did not have any recourse, so she returned day after day to pester the Judge with her presence. The Judge did not respect her or her faith, but he was concerned about his own political reputation. If he failed to take care of a widow’s case, his friends may look down on him. He finally agreed to help.
... I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’"
The widow was persistent and wore the Judge out. She gave him no rest day and night. She was continually before his court, hounding him, harassing him, plaguing him until finally the judge was forced to act. He granted her request and she got what she needed! Right here lies the whole point of the story.