Summary: God is looking for people who are persistent prayers; people who are prepared to be changed through prayer and people who have time for Him.
Luke 18:1-8 – Persistence in Prayer
Father, we pray this morning that you will reveal more about the nature of prayer to us. We ask this in Jesus’ Name Amen.
Story: At the turn of the century in Switzerland, a small village church had a hall that needed a new roof.
So after every Sunday service, the congregation would go over to the church hall to pray for the new roof. And at the end of the prayer meeting, there would be a collection.
One old Swiss, renown for being very tight fisted, used to come and sit at the back of the prayer meeting - so he could make a quick escape when the collection plate came around.
One Sunday just as he was going to the prayer meeting he was held up by the vicar - and so came in a little late. Unfortunately there was only room at the front. So he went to the front and sat down there.
During the prayer meeting, a piece of roof fell and hit him on the head. Feeling spoken to he stood up and said:
"Lord, I’ll give £1000”. A voice in the back rang out: "Hit him again Lord".
Is that how we think God speaks to us?
In this morning’s gospel reading Luke 18:1-8 Jesus focuses on prayer - using the parable of the Unjust Judge to encourage us to stick at prayer. We should pray so we don’t lose heart.
Prayer is very precious to God.
We read in Revelation 8: 3 and 4 that the prayers of the saints are equated with incense offered to God at the altar.
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.
The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”
What JESUS is NOT saying.
It is important to note what Jesus is NOT saying with Parable of the Unjust Judge.
He is NOT saying that God is as parsimonious in answering prayer-, as the unjust judge was frugal in dispensing justice.
Judges were notoriously corrupt in Jesus’ day and the implication in the parable would be that some rich person has bribed the judge NOT to give the widow justice – possibly to stop her inheriting her husband’s estate.
Without the protection of a benefactor, the widow would have neither strings to pull nor any bribe to offer.
Yet, in this parable, her persistence won through.
What Jesus is sayings is that : If the Unjust Judge in this parable gives justice to the woman - surely God - who wants to answer our prayers - will answer do so.
For me, there are three challenges from this passage:
1. God is looking for people who are persistent prayers.
2. He is looking for people to be changed through prayer
3. He is looking for people who have time for Him.
1. Let us look at the first of these challenges:
God is looking for people who are persistent in prayer
The Jews, in Jesus’ day, limited prayer to three times a day, so that they wouldn’t wear God out by their pestering.
Jesus taught quite the opposite. God is glad when we pray. And the real danger is that we will wear ourselves out first. That we will run out of energy and give up praying.
It is worth noting that the woman came to the judge because she EXPECTED to win.
In other words, she had faith in receiving a fair judgment from the judge EVENTUALLY.
So it should be with us in prayer
I meet people who really don’t EXPECT God to answer prayer. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There may be some of us here today who find prayer very hard.
The reason we don’t seem to get anywhere may be because our motivation is suspect:
Why do I pray?
1.1 As a Divine insurance policy.
Do we see prayer as something to do to appease an angry God. A sort of divine insurance policy.
1.2. As a religious duty.
Or do we see it as a religious duty. God wants me to pray, I’ve no idea why, but I must do it. Then I will be blessed.
1.3. Because I am a better person
Do I pray because I am a better person than others. Perhaps you recall the attitude of the Pharisee in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:11-14
2. The second challenge I found in this parable is that God is looking for people to be changed through prayer
What is real prayer?
Prayer is the turning of a person to God