Summary: We are called to be persistent in prayer
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: In the late nineteenth Century in South Africa, an old man was digging for gold in a river bed.
He had been at it for many years.
Every now and then he found a little bit of gold, not enough to make him rich – but just enough to maintain his interest.
The part of river in which he was prospecting was quite new to him - and there were more signs than usual of the presence of gold.
He was quite excited - gripped by the gold fever, but, once again he found little of substance.
As his dig neared its end, he found himself exhausted and discouraged.
He was just about to go home one evening when he saw some pebbles.
He liked the look of them, so he slipped them into his pocket.
There were about a dozen of them.
At home he got out a tin and put the pebbles into it.
The tin was special – for it was filled with very personal items,
letters from his son,
a photo of his wife who had died some years before,
the collar from his old dog who had died 18 months earlier.
He put the tin back on the shelf in a cupboard and forgot about the pebbles he had found
Another ten years went by and he still hadn’t made that gold strike that he had so longed for.
By now he was very old, and ill, with no ready money to pay for a doctor - he died.
A few days later the police came to his house.
They looked through his belongings to see if there was anything they could sell -to pay for his funeral, but they found nothing of any value.
Even his house was just an old wooden shack falling to pieces.
And then they found THE tin.
As one of the officers looked through it, he gasped with surprise.
"Look at this" he said to his partner. He was pointing to the pebbles the old man had placed in that tin 10 years earlier.
"They`re uncut diamonds!", he said, "They`re worth a fortune"!
The old man had INDEED been very rich.
But he had died thinking that he was very poor - because he hadn’t looked closely enough at what he thought were just ordinary pebbles.
He`d spent the whole of his life searching for riches, but had missed the FACT that those pebbles were the answer to his longings.
We Christians have untold riches too, that we never tap into.
The Bible calls them “prayer”
And when we do pray, we don’t persevere with it
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 there is only one thing that we can do that will be in the throne room of God
The prayers of the saints.
That’s our prayers –not our deeds
Our prayers 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 of the parable would be that some rich person has bribed the judge not to give the widow justice – probably stopping her inheriting her husband’s estate.
Without the protection of a benefactor, the widow wouldn’t have any strings to pull. Nor could she offer any kind of bribe.
Yet, in this parable, her persistence won through.
What Jesus is saying is that : If the Unjust Judge in this parable gives justice to the woman - surely God - who wants to answer our prayers - will answer prayer.
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: