Summary: If you care deeply about somethng, keep praying and trusting.
Title: Never give up! Ever!
Text: Luke 18:1-8
Thesis: If you care deeply about something, keep praying and trusting.
Larry Crabb, writing in the November/December issue of Pray! Magazine told this story. When he was ten years old, he first heard Matthew 21:22, where Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” He said it was the “whatever” model of prayer: Believe, ask for whatever you want, and it is yours.
Crabb said, “I remember running outside, standing in the driveway, closing my eyes real tight, and praying: ‘God, I want to fly like Superman. And, I believe you can do it. So, I’ll jump, and you take it from there.
“I jumped four times and each time landed half a second later and half a foot farther down the driveway. I had believed and I had asked, but I didn’t receive. Thus began my 50-year journey of confusion about prayer.”
I confess, I identify with Larry Crabb. Over the years, I have worked at sophisticating my prayers making sure I prayed just right: I have made sure that when I pray I always end my prayers with, “in Jesus’ name. Amen” I have used the ACTS model of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
I have prayed many a safe prayer. When I pray a safe prayer, I am careful to not be very specific. That way, there was no specific “adversary” to be avenged, as in our story today or any specific person or situation for which I needed God to intervene. That kind praying prays that God will bless all the missionaries and for world peace.
I have also practiced the principle of significant praying. By that I mean, I didn’t think I should bother God with anything trivial for fear that if I asked God to help me go to sleep, I might distract him from diverting a tsunami somewhere on the other side of the world.
I confess that I have also been big into submissive prayer, which is a lot like safe prayer. In submissive prayer, you always end every prayer with, “never-the-less, not my will but, thine be done.” After all, that is how Jesus prayed and that is the model given in the Lord ’s Prayer.
Then, there was the selfless prayer period in which I never prayed for anything for myself because it says in James, “The reason you don’t have what you want is that you do not ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get because your motive is wrong, you want only what will give you pleasure.” James 4:1-3
This morning I do not anticipate that any of us will leave with all of our questions answered, but we will have been exposed to one of the texts in the Gospels in which Jesus taught specifically about prayer.
From his story about the persistent or, as some versions put it, the importunate woman, we learn that prayer is first of all, personal.
1. Prayer is Personal
There was a judge in a certain city… A widow of that city came to him, repeatedly appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. Luke 18:2-3
You have heard someone say, “Please don’t take this personally.” Or, you have heard someone say, “It isn’t personal.” Let me say, “It is always personal!” If it is about you, me, or anyone else, it is personal.
A Financial Services Technology online article reviewing, It Isn’t Just Business, It’s Personal, by Arunas Chesonis and David Dorsey refers to the PAETEC’s philosophy of doing business. The article states, “It’s the people: employees, customers, suppliers and everyone else in the communities we serve.” At PAETEC, it isn’t just business, it’s personal.
When I read the October issue of Smithsonian Magazine I found an eight page section of slick black pages with a tiny message line that ran like a continuous thread across the center of each page… on and on it read. I was so intrigued by the ad that I went online to look at the DOW Chemical web site in which DOW refers to the Periodical Chart of Elements and says that one is missing. The missing element is Hu 8, the Human Element.
Isn’t it interesting that the technical science people and the chemical science people are using terminology like “it’s personal” and “the human element”?
When we pray, we pray for situations and circumstances that affect people. We pray for people we care about. We pray for ourselves. Prayer is always personal. Intercessory prayer is about the human element.
In our story there is a judge, a widow who is a plaintiff bringing a charge against an unnamed defendant who has harmed her. The three people in our story are people and the case presented is very personal. The injured party, i.e., the widow, brought her case to the judge anticipating that he would weigh the evidence and give her justice.