Summary: How we pray and what we pray have a big connection. Jesus’ gives us great insight into what God wants in a good prayer.
Praying Outside the Box
Do you remember your first prayers? As a child, learning to pray, I never remember having a class or hearing a list of instructions about prayer, do you? I do remember being told to say, “In Jesus Name, Amen.” But most of what I learned about praying as a child came from hearing the prayers of others.
What would you think if God took some prayers that others had prayed and laid them out before us with comments to show what he wanted and didn’t want. Would that be helpful? Well, today, we will look at just that. In God’s word we will hear some prayers with comments from God himself to instruct us in our own prayer lives to help us pray.
Now I know that Jesus also gave us a model prayer called the “Lord’s Prayer” that is a wonderful example of how we ought to pray. We’ll study that at some other time. Today, lets look at some instruction on prayer that Jesus gives us as well as a critique of two prayers.
I’m really excited about today’s study and these scriptures. Luke 18 gives us two parables of Jesus specifically about prayer and these are probably the most powerful parables on prayer in the Bible. In them we see the positives of persistence and the perils of pride. Look at them with me. They are very familiar.
18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,
2 saying, "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man.
3 "And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ’Give me legal protection from my opponent.’
4 "And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ’Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,
5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’"
6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said;
7 now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?
8 "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
This is about at direct as you can get. Look at verse one again. What does Jesus want them to do? Pray at all times and not lose heart. KJV says, “faint not.” Don’t get weak and pass out on your prayer life. Keep it up! Why?
Look at this story. There are two characters here. One is a judge. Now listen to me here. A judge has a lot of power and authority. In fact, we understand that well, don’t we? When a judge comes into the room in his robes and walks to his seat, what is the command for all present? All rise! Why? Here comes the judge! A judge is a powerful person! When the Bible describes God in the final day, he is called the Judge! He sits on the throne and judges. Many of the judges in the Bible were also rulers of the people. I’m here to tell you that a judge has power and influence. But look at this judge that Jesus describes. Is he a judge you’d want to face? This guy is a judge who has no respect for God or man! He could care less what happens to you! Since he doesn’t fear God, he doesn’t care about justice according to the truth, and since he has no respect for man, he doesn’t care about what happens to those he rules over.
There’s another character in this parable. This one is a widow. Now in those days a widow had very little power or influence. God’s word protected the widow and orphan because they were the members of society that were the most needy. They were also the most vulnerable. This widow has enemies and she needs protection or someone to be the avenger against her adversaries. So what does she do? She goes to the judge and states her need. And what does the judge do? Nothing, at least at first.
Now what would you have done if you were that widow? She has nowhere else to go. She has no power to deal with her opponents, and the judge doesn’t listen to her case. He keeps throwing it out of court. Well, in those days, the judge used to sit at certain stations for judging. This widow won’t leave! She just keeps coming back and stating her case! He doesn’t throw her out, but he doesn’t help her with her need until finally he realizes that she’s not going to give up!