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Should I Keep Praying?

November 10, 2013
Third last Sunday of the church year

Third last Sunday of the church year

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 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 what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

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?”

Luke 18:1-8

▒ Psalm: 90:1-17

▒ O.T.: Job 14:1-6

▒ Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

 

This is one of the Bible verses that always gives me more strength. Knowing that God is always present to our side motivates me to believe more. These verses are nothing more or less than an invitation to believe in God. They are an invitation to believe in the power of prayer. They are an invitation to let the power of God work in our lives. We must continue to pray! And that is exactly what is expressed in the parable of the widow who asks: keep praying! Or if you literally translate this phrase from the Gospel of Luke: “It must always pray and not be careless about it.”

While the meaning of the parable is clear, it is worthwhile to stop and examine it in more detail. For example, one may be surprised that the judge is described as an atheist and selfish. Yet he represents the Heavenly Father! This is just an observation that can be made from many of Jesus’ parables; Jesus knowingly describes the Judge as evil and unjust because he wants to motivate us to do a comparison between the tiny and the huge. With he wants to make clear is that: Just as a bad person can be softened through insistent request, how much more will our requests be heard by the good heavenly Father.

We may also guess at what may have been the woman’s request. It is not written in the parable, but what is written could give us an indication as to what the problem was. There is talk of an opponent, perhaps a litigant, a man with whom she had a dispute. Perhaps the deceased husband was owed ​​money by the adversary and now, after his death, she needed his money to live. Jewish women of that time could not provide for their livelihood and would not receive any income. And the widow does not want to give up that money. Today, in similar situations, we would promptly go to the appropriate court. At that time, the burden rested with competent teachers of the law; the judge had a duty to provide rights for the weak and the disadvantaged: the widows, orphans and foreigners, for example.

But, as we said, the unjust judge did not intend to exercise his duty here. He may even have been a friend of the accuser; perhaps this was a person of influence and maybe the judge just wanted to live in peace. The widow, however, did not leave him alone. She had no other means of demanding justice at her disposal. She never tired of going, over and over again, to the judge to ask him for justice. She did so openly and vigorously, so that in the end the judge said: “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me.”

We cannot translate this approach directly into our prayers. We don’t need to ask to our father as the widow of the parable ask to an unrighteous and evil judge, and with effort and sacrifice, but we asked our heavenly Father as beloved children. And God hears our prayers not because he tires of us but because he loves us and wants all the best for us. What we can apply to our prayer life from this parable is that: it is worthwhile to be constantly in prayer even though it may seem that God is not listening.

“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?–

There is a tale that is told about a small town that had historically been “dry,” but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible. The church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that “no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”

Yes, we constantly pray for the salvation of our souls and the souls of others. And how do we feel when nonbelievers do not want to wear the robe of the righteousness of God and despise the garments of salvation? How sorry do we feel, especially when it comes to the people around us, our neighbors, colleagues, relatives and even the children themselves. For many years we have been praying that this one or that one finds the path to God. And how many are there who do not feel that God is listening, like the widow in the parable. Some even lose heart and give up on praying; they doubt and wonder if it is worthwhile to keep praying.

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?–” Jesus asked them at the end of the parable and with this question also challenges our faith. Will our faith end or endure to the end? Will we have faith that God will hear our prayers? Will we continue to pray for the salvation of nonbelievers? Keep praying and asking for faith, for us and for others! Pray for our church, pray for our families! Continue to pray without ceasing, without tiring!

When Luther’s puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a crumb from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes; he (Martin Luther) said, ‘Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope.”

How God will answer our prayers and how He will provide justice is up to Him; it is His business. There is no need for us to puzzle over it; we should simply let ourselves be surprised. God has mysterious ways and for each person it is different. Yes, God has a path for each person. Often we can see the wonderful way God has worked in this or that person that has not given up on praying.

In its early days, Dallas Theological Seminary in the USA was in critical need of $10,000 to keep the work going. During a prayer meeting, renowned Bible teacher, a lecturer at the school, prayed, “Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of those cattle to help us meet this need.” Shortly after the prayer meeting, a check for $10,000 arrived at the school, sent days earlier by a friend who had no idea of the urgent need or of the teacher’s prayer. The man simply said the money came from the sale of some of his cattle!

“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 said Jesus. What an encouragement to keep praying – precisely for those of our loved ones who still do not believe or for any of our concerns. I cannot promise answers to your prayers today with this my preaching; rather it is Jesus himself who promises you through the message of this parable. It will be worthwhile to keep praying!

Amen.

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