The Bare Soul
December 4, 2011
Persistence in Prayer
Luke 18:1 - Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,
How do we approach prayer? Is it something we mouth to Jesus out of a sense of obligation, or is it something we believe is vitally important to both God and humanity? More importantly, do we truly believe God will answer our prayers? Or, have we "lost heart" as Jesus warns us regarding our prayer life in our lead verse? Prayer is an enigma to those who don't truly believe God answers prayer. Nonetheless, it has become something of an expected ritual within many of our churches today. Oftentimes, someone will bring a praise of an answered prayer to a prayer meeting and there is an initial shock that the Lord moved in a miraculous way! However, we should understand that the Lord desires to move ALWAYS if we will but stay persistent in our pursuit of an answer to our petitions. The question remains: How far are we willing to go to secure the answer?
The parable of the unrighteous judge and the widow is a curious story. The Lord describes an unrighteous judge who neither fears God nor respects man (Luke 18:2). He next introduces us to a widow who is seeking legal protection from her opponents (Luke 18:3). We are not given any more detail but that she comes to this judge in a continuous manner. Enough so, where he decides to grant her request before she unduly taxes both his time and patience (Luke 18:4-5). Jesus next tells us to learn from the unrighteous judge in the following verses: And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? (Luke 18:6-7) Unlike other parables, such as the Good Samaritan or The Prodigal Son, this is not a morality tale. In reality, it is probably the antithesis of true redemption in that it is contrived justice on behalf of a self-centered judge. However, Jesus skillfully uses even the unrighteous to make His point. The implication is not to behave in an unrighteous manner, but to understand his lack of love and patience for the widow that hounded him day after day. In so doing, Jesus juxtaposes an unjust arbiter to a loving, gracious Judge in heaven who is ready to answer expeditiously if we will but ask. Actually, Christ says that His Father will bring justice "quickly" for those who would cry out to Him day and night (Luke 18:8), promising not to "delay long over them" as previously stated. So, our time-bound mentalities will naturally want to know, "How many days and nights will I need to labor in prayer for a 'quick' answer?" I believe the answer lies in Jesus' probing question at the end of Luke 18:8: However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Beloved, faith is the key to unlock the storerooms of answered prayer. The problem is oftentimes we possess so little. From time to time, God will burden my heart for someone or some thing and there is an ease in prayer. It would seem as if I could "pray without ceasing" as faith stirs in my heart. On fewer occasions, I have experienced something I would characterize as the Spirit of Grace and Supplication from Zechariah 12:10. During these times, I would not dare to move from the place of prayer as the sweetness of God is so real and present. There is such a manifestation of God that faith naturally arises in my heart. These are special times where God finds faith on the earth---when we are able to draw close to Him as He draws close to us. It is a remarkable time that allows us direct access to the throne of grace and to His mercy seat as we beseech the Lord to answer our petitions. Unfortunately, in my case at least, these instances are far less frequent than otherwise. So often, it seems as if prayer is a battle against our opponents, much like the widows earthly oppressors. However, in our case and for our example, I believe those we battle are of a spiritual, demonic nature that will push back 24/7 until we either push through or we pass out in exhaustion. We will either persist until we have the victory, or perhaps we will expire from a lack of faith. God often encourages us with those energized, faith-filled, times of prayer when grace and supplication are pouring through us to keep us going to not give up or give in. That is what Paul speaks of when he talks about going from faith to faith, literally allowing these islands of spiritual power to grant us sustenance to continue to persist in prayer. In Romans 1:17 the apostle states: For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
We should not feel discouraged if we have never experienced great times in prayer. We need not judge ourselves by anyone else, but merely obey what God says and leave the rest to Him. Will he find faith upon the earth regarding persistent prayer? He will if we don't give up. If the answer does not come "quickly", as we understand it, I believe He will encourage our faith along the way. In so doing, He will grant us the power to continue beseeching the Righteous Judge in Glory who will indeed answer us if we persevere. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, beloved (Romans 10:17). Continue to pour out your hearts to Him, but also allow Him to speak to your heart His word. I assure you, He will grant you protection from your spiritual foes that would seek to dissuade you from the victory. Only through our persistence, with faith-filled hearts, will we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37).
O Righteous Judge, grant us faith-filled hearts that would cry out to You night and day for justice. May You grant us protection from our oppressors as we seek to claim Your kingdom on earth, just as it is in heaven. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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