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A Parable on Prayer

ThinkstockPhotos-185907199We won’t always see our prayers answered. If there is no guarantee for answered prayer, why should we persist in prayer?

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus addressed this issue head-on:

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

Luke 18:1-8 provides three reasons to persist in prayer:

1.              The Goodness of God (v.7)

2.              The Greatness of God (v.8a)

3.              The Glory of God (v.8b)

First, we should remain steadfast in our prayer life because the God whom we serve is truly good. I remember the day when this concept became a vivid reality for me: After a long walk, my wife and children arrived back on our street. As they approached our house, our son, with great excitement and zeal, dashed home to do his favorite thing in the world—ring the doorbell. My wife knew what he was doing; however, she also knew that I was not home. She slowed her pace and watched. To her surprise, he was not deterred when there was no answer. Instead, he rang the doorbell with greater resolve. As my wife retold this story to me, the Lord whispered into my mind: “This is how you should pursue me in prayer.” But why did my son continue to ring the doorbell, despite getting no answer? It’s simple: he perceived me as being a good father. He believed, if he continued to ring, he would 1) eventually get my attention and, if I was home, 2) I would happily receive him. I would not leave him behind a locked door. If he did not believe those things he would not continue to ring the bell. In the same way, persistent prayer is resolving to believe and act upon God’s goodness.

In our text, the goodness of God is most clearly seen in a question: “And will not God…” (v7). Notice, the two false assumptions we fight: God is not fair. And God does not care. Is your “god” a good God? If He is truly good, then keep ringing the doorbell of prayer. He’s worthy of your persistence.

Second, we should remain steadfast in our prayer life because the God whom we serve is great. In verse 8, Jesus refers to Himself by His favorite title: “The Son of Man.” Jesus’ authority extends beyond every ruler, king, or judge; He is the sovereign who has no equal (Daniel 7:14). So, here’s the logic: If an earthly judge, who neither fears God nor respects man, can change his mind because of a widow’s persistence, how much more will the sovereign and majestic creator answer the prayers of his children? Persistent prayer is not begging God for His blessing; persistent prayer is knowing that God is the blessing—He is not only able to provide but also He desires to do so in His own timing.

Third, we should remain steadfast in our prayer life because the God whom we serve deserves all the glory. In verse 8, Jesus answers the question: why should we pray and not become discouraged? In one word: faith. He says: “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Faith is the manifestation of what we believe to be true. Moreover, Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who [diligently] seek him.” In other words, persistent prayer manifests one’s faith in God, which gives God glory.

What will be your response? As you continue to pray, I encourage you to keep ringing the doorbell of prayer. In His own timing, He will answer your request. Remember, His timing is always best. 

James Fields
Lead Pastor of Sojourn Church Carlisle
Louisville, KY
Former Christian Union Ministry Director at Princeton