TEXT: Luke 18:1-8
It’s a good thing to pray–whatever your circumstances may be!
According to many public opinion polls, prayer is very important to people. In a recent survey, the Gallup organization found 90 percent of people 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.
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.
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 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. Now, there are at least three important prayer principles Jesus taught in the parable. They are:
1. OVERCOME WORRY WITH PRAYER!
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 great anxiety in your mind!
William Ward wrote this about worry: “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat…Worry is a magnet that attracts negative circumstances…Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” IN OTHER WORDS, WALANG MABUTING MAIDUDULOT ANG PAGAALALA…WORRY is like rocking in a rocking chair–it gives you something to do, but you never go anywhere with it.
The Apostle Paul was stuck in a Roman dungeon facing the possibility of having his head chopped off. Instead of worrying about dying, he prayed and in addition to praying, he wrote some letters to encourage Christians to pray instead of worrying. Look at his word found in Philippians 4:6-7. Remember, these words were penned by a man sitting in a damp, dark, depressing dungeon: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worry into prayers. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.” (The Message)
I recently read an interesting testimony from a Christian man who owned a construction company. He was losing sleep worrying about some financial problems he faced in his company. One morning, after another night filled with worry, he opened his Bible and devotional guide. That morning he was reading from Matthew 6 where Jesus commanded his followers not to worry. Jesus said, “Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant or harvest, or store in barns, but your heavenly Father takes care of them–and you are much more valuable to him than the sparrows!” His devotional guide spoke about how God cares for the birds so much when a single sparrow falls dead to the earth, God is aware and God cares. The verse at the end was I Peter 5:7 which says, “Cast your cares upon him, for He cares for you.”
A few days earlier on the job site, they had been removing trees and the owner had noticed one of the trees had a bird nest with baby birds in it. He marked the tree and left word not to cut it down. But on this day, he realized the tree would have to come down because they couldn’t delay the project any longer.
The owner used a bucket truck to lift him up to the bird’s nest. When he looked in, the birds were gone–they had learned to fly. Since he was up there anyway, he removed the nest. You know birds use all kinds of scraps to make a nest. As he examined the nest, he discovered the birds had used straw, twigs, and even little strips of paper to make the nest. He removed one sliver of paper and what he read almost caused him to fall out to the bucket. Written on the fragment were these words, “God cares for you.” He realized God was using that bird nest to reinforce his message. Today, the man’s business is doing well, and he is prays more and worries less–and he keeps that bird’s nest in his office!
When you face a challenging circumstance you have two choices. You can lose heart and let worrisome thoughts control your mind; or you can pray about it. You should pray and not worry because the God of the Bible loves you and cares for you. (BAKIT PAPATAYIN MO ANG SARILI KAKA-ALALA, GAYUNG MAYROON TAYONG DIYOS NA NAGMAMAHAL AT HANDANG TUMAGPO SA ANUMANG ATING PANGANGAILANGAN!) ANO BA ANG SABI NG BIBLIA? The Bible tells us that though earthly fathers are sinful, they would give the best things for their children…but I want to put all your ears on this – HOW MUCH MORE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER…HIGIT NYANG KAYANG IPAGKALOOB ANG LAHAT NG PINAKAMAINAM, PINAKA-MABUTI SA KANYANG MGA ANAK NA TUMATAWAG SA KANYA!!! MAY MABABAGO BA SA KALAGAYAN MO KUNG PURO KA MUKMOK, PURO KA PAG-AALALA? MERON, PAPANGET KA LANG…TATANDA KA KAKAISIP…MAGPAPALOBO KA LANG NG LAWAY! PERO KUNG MANANALANGIN KA, SA PAMAMAGITAN NG IYONG PANANAMPALATAYA, MAGAGAWA MONG PAKILUSIN ANG KAMAY NG ATING PANGINOON PATUNGKOL SA IYONG KALAGAYAN O SITWASYON!
2. PRAY PERSISTENTLY!
In the parable, the poor widow kept on begging the judge to grant her justice. She didn’t just ask once and say, “Let me know what you decide.” She peppered his ears with persistent petitions. Have you ever asked God for something, and when He didn’t answer your prayer immediately, you quit praying? That’s a big mistake.
The most effective prayers in the Bible are those that were prayed persistently. In Psalm 55:16-17, David wrote: “I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” David wasn’t one of those one-a-day vitamin prayers. He was an all-day pray-er!
In the Old Testament, Hannah desperately wanted a child. For many years she prayed and prayed to have a child. After her prayer was unanswered for years she didn’t say, “Well, it must not be God’s will for me to have a child.” She kept on praying for years, and eventually God gave her a son–Samuel, the mighty prophet.
Paul had some kind of painful affliction he called a thorn in the flesh. He begged the Lord to remove the pain. He asked not once, not twice, but three times before the Lord answered. And when God answered, it wasn’t the answer Paul was wanting. God didn’t take away the thorn; instead He gave him the grace to cope with the pain, so Paul began to give God glory in the midst of his pain.
Even Jesus prayed persistently. On the night before the crucifixion, He was in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring out His heart to His Father. His prayer burden was so intense there were drops of blood, like sweat on His forehead. He prayed, “Father, take this cup from me–but not my will but yours be done!” He prayed it again and again. Three times He cried out to His Father–and His Father heard Him and gave Him the strength and resolved to face the cross.
Persistence is an important factor in prayer. But persistence is a valuable commodity for every area of your Christian life, not just prayer. God blesses those who persist. So whatever you may be facing right now, don’t give up!
One of the largest organizations in the world is the Quitters Club. The reason you’ve never heard of the Quitters Club is because they never meet–the members quit coming. There are no dues–the members quit paying them. The Quitters Club is comprised of people who faced a tough job, a tough marriage, a tough sickness, or a tough failure–and they quit. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But the going gets tough, the quitters get going…away. What we need in the world and in the church are people who will exhibit good, old-fashioned “sticktoitiveness.” That’s probably not even a word, but it needs to be!
One of the greatest men of faith in Christian history was the English preacher, George Mueller. He wrote these words about praying: “The great point is never to give up until the answer comes. I have been praying for 63 years and 8 months for one man’s conversion. He is not saved yet, but he will be. How can it be otherwise? I am praying.”
George Mueller died and the man was still not saved. But as they lowered Muller’s casket into the ground, the man repented of his sins and trusted Jesus as his savior–that’s persistent praying!
God has always honored persistence. Life is full of adversarial people who will tackle you. You will face difficult circumstances that trip your feet out from under you. The poor widow in Jesus’ parable had been knocked flat–but she refused to stay down. She got up and persistently made her request to the judge. (TANDAAN MO ITO, LAGING TUTUGON ANG ATING PANGINOON, HINDI SA PANAHON NA GUSTO NATIN, HINDI SA KAPARAANANG GUSTO NATIN, KUNDI SA KANYANG ORAS, PANAHON AT KAPARAAN – BAKIT, PARA LALO TAYONG MAMANGHA NA HIGIT PA SA ATING MGA PINANALANGIN AT HIGIT PA SA ATING NINANAIS ANG KAYANG IBIGAY SA BAWAT ISA SA ATIN! WAG KA LAMANG SUMUKO!) Tell to the person next to you, “pray persistently!”
3. NEVER EVER DOUBT – PRAY POSITIVELY!
In this parable, we are represented by the widow–she didn’t worry and she was persistent in her requests. But is God like that crooked judge? Does He have to pestered and coerced before He will answer your prayers? Not at all. Parables not only contain comparisons but contrasts as well. Jesus used the mean judge as the antithesis of our loving Heavenly Father. (PARA IPAKITA ANG MALAKING PAGKAKAIBA NUNG JUDGE SA ATING AMANG NASA LANGIT. KUNG YUNG JUDGE NAPILITAN LAMANG, ANG ATING AMANG NASA LANGIT AY LAGING HANDANG TUMUGON SA BAWAT PAGTAWAG NATIN SA KANYA, HINDI DAHIL SA MAKULIT TAYO, KUND`I DAHIL SA KANYANG NAGUUMAPAW NA KAHABAGAN SA BAWAT ISA). He said, “And will not God bring justice to His chosen? Will He not answer their prayers quickly?”
You must expect God to answer your prayers. If you doubt that you’ll receive an answer, chances are you won’t. In James 1, we are told when we pray for wisdom God will give it to us generously. Then James adds a powerful warning about letting doubt creep into your prayers. He writes: “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7) Compare that to the positive promise we find in I John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.”
The difference is learning to pray positively, without doubting. Sadly, many Christians pray, but they really don’t expect and answer.
There was a Sunday School teacher who had her children write letters to a missionary they had been praying for. The teacher explained the missionary was very busy and wouldn’t have time to send a reply to every child, so they should expect to hear back from him. One little boy wrote this letter: “Dear Mr. Smith, I am praying for you. I am not expecting an answer.” Are you like that? You pray, but you aren’t really expecting an answer?
(MARAMING KRISTIYANO, NAIIYAK PA YAN KAPAG NAGPI-PRAY, KAPAG MAG-TATAWAG NG ALTAR PARA IPANALANGIN, NAKIKIPAG-UNAHAN PA YAN…NAGTATAAS DIN NG KAMAY YAN, PERO PAGKATAPOS NG PRAYER, PAGKATAPOS NG GAWAIN, PABALIK PA LANG SA UPUAN, ANG TAKBO KAGAD NG ISIP, “DIDINGGIN KAYA NI LORD? EH ANG DAMI NUN, AT MUKHANG IMPOSIBLE PA YUN!”) GOD ANSWERS PRAYER, NEVER EVER DOUBT THAT! HE MADE A SO MANY PROMISES TO US THROUGH HIS WORDS, AND HE IS NOT A MAN WHO CAN LIE…HE IS FAITHFUL TO ALL OF HIS PROMISES IN YOUR LIFE! HE WOULD EVEN MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH JUST TO MEET YOUR NEEDS TODAY! BAKIT KAILANGAN MONG PAGDUDAHAN ANG ATING PANGINOON, GAYUNG ANG ISA MGA TAWAG SA KANYA AY “ALMIGHTY GOD” NA ANG IBIG SABIHIN ANG LAHAT NG KAPANGYARIN ANG LAHAT NG KAKAYANAN AY NASA KANYANG MGA KAMAY!
Let me end this message with a very wonderful story from the Old Testament: It’s about Jacob wrestling with the angel in Genesis 32. They wrestled all night and toward morning, Jacob had the angel in a full Nelson grip. The angel said, “Jacob, let me go.” The mighty angel could have tossed Jacob off in a heartbeat, but God was teaching Jacob (and us) a valuable lesson about the power of persistent, tenacious praying.
Imagine Jacob hanging onto that angel. He said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” So the angel said, “Okay, your name has been Jacob (which means “grabber”). From now on you will be named Israel (which means prince of God). What a great prayer lesson! Have you ever grabbed onto God in prayer and begged Him saying, “I’m not going to quit praying until you answer me?”
What is God trying to say to you personally? Are you consumed with worry and anxiety? Pray instead. Have you stopped praying about a need in your life? Are you considering quitting in some area where God has placed you? Don’t quit–keep on praying persistently! Are you filled with doubt