Summary: In this parable, we learn the value of positive, persistent prayer and the need for prayer in our lives.
P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens!
By Dr. David O. Dykes
A young man went into a drugstore to buy 3 boxes of chocolate: small, medium, and large. When the pharmacist asked him about the three boxes, he said, “Well, I’m going over to a new girlfriend’s house for supper. Then we’re going out. If she only lets me hold her hand, then I’ll give her the small box. If she lets me kiss her on the cheek, then I’ll give her the medium box. But if she really lets me smooch seriously, I’ll give her the big box.” He made his purchase and left.
That evening as he sat down at dinner with his girlfriend’s family, he asked if he could say the prayer before the meal. He began to pray, and he prayed an earnest, intense prayer that lasted for almost five minutes. When he finished his girlfriend said, “You never told me you were such a religious person.” He said, “And you never told me your dad was a pharmacist!”
It’s a good thing to pray–whatever the circumstances! According to many public opinion polls, prayer is very important to Americans. In 2000 the Gallup organization found 90 percent of Americans pray. 86 percent said they believed in God–isn’t it interesting more people pray than claim to believe in God? 83 percent said they favor prayer at graduation exercises. 70 percent favor Christian prayers spoken in school.
The title of this message is “P.U.S.H.,” an acronym for Pray Until Something Happens! Jesus had a great deal to say about prayer. His disciples watched Him, and they said, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” They never said, “Teach us how to do miracles, or to teach, or to love people.” The one thing about His life that was so fascinating that they wanted to imitate Him was His prayer life. In Luke 18:1-8 He shared a parable about prayer: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and not give up. You don’t have to wonder about the meaning of this parable because the interpretation is given in the first verse.
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 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!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the son of man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
The story begins with a widow who had an adversary who was trying to take advantage of her. It’s likely someone was trying to cheat her out of money or land her husband left her. This was prevalent in Bible times, because women had few legal rights. In the wonderful Old Testament story of Ruth, she and Naomi returned to Bethlehem as widows. They had no legal right to claim the land had belonged to their husbands. Fortunately Boaz married Ruth and he became her kinsman/redeemer.
In Jesus’ parable this widow not only had the hurdle of being a female, she faced a terrible judge. He didn’t have any fear of God, nor did he care what other people thought about him. He was probably a Gentile judge designated by the Roman authorities. Judgeships were sold and bought, and a judge could make a good living from the bribes that were common. Our widow had no money to bribe this wicked judge, so her only recourse was to come before him repeatedly crying, “Grant me justice against my adversary! Grant me justice against my adversary!” He dismissed her claim, but she kept coming back, constantly begging him for justice. He must have thought, “Oh, no, not HER again!” In verse 5, he admits she bothered him. The word translated “bothering” literally means to “poke in the eye.” He was upset because she was constantly in his face. This constant begging and nagging finally paid off–he ruled in her favor. There are at least three important prayer principles Jesus taught in the parable. They are:
1. DON’T WORRY–PRAY!
In the parable, the widow didn’t sit at home wringing her hands about her problem. Instead of worrying, she got up and approached the only person who could help her–the judge. In verse one Jesus said we ought always to pray and not to give up. The NASB says, “Pray and do not lose heart.” The Greek word translated “give up” is enkenkao. It literally means to “be filled with bad thoughts.” Worry is filling your mind with bad thoughts of the worst that could happen. Worry is like water. It begins as a trickle of doubt that creeps into your mind. If it isn’t stopped, it soon becomes a stream of fear which creates a pond of paranoia which overflows into a river of distress which develops into a raging torrent of tension. And before you know it, the flood of worry has carved a Grand Canyon of anxiety in your mind!