“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1
Life is unjust. Upon accepting an award, the late Jack Benny once remarked, “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”
Have you ever come to a point when you’ve felt like you’re on the wrong side of justice; someone has done you wrong, and with all calls, e-mails, texts, voice mails; your situation just isn’t getting resolved. Jesus knew that His disciples would be running into many of these kind of situations; where they would be getting the ‘short end of the stick’……. sometimes life just doesn’t appear to be fair.
Jesus uses an example here of a widowed woman who had been wronged, and a cynical Judge who ‘neither feared God nor had any respect for people’; he tended to distrust motives behind what people were saying and might be believing.. He was what you’d call a typical 1st century judge, just doing his job in order to make money. On the other end was the ‘mouthy widow’…..a very demanding individual who repeatedly approached this judge, over and over, incessantly bugging him for justice in her situation.. The issue was probably that she wasn’t getting her rightful share of an inheritance of her deceased husband. The inheritance laws of her time created big problems for women when their husbands died. Male relatives, sons would end up getting the inheritance leaving widows helpless and desolate.
Jesus loving to use the issues of the day as examples began using an illustration of something listeners would be able to relate to. Widows were at this time the poorest people in society often because they were denied their just right to an inheritance of their dead husbands. In most cases, widows wouldn’t do anything. They would not, like this widow complain and demand justice. This parable is looked at as a comparison between the judge and God.
The word Jesus uses to describe the judge is interesting. Translated ‘unjust’in the Greek is adikias. The meaning here is defining this judge as one who was wicked, unrighteous….unjust.
In this instance, Jesus laughingly praises the unjust judge and compares God with him. “Will not God much more rapidly listen and grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him, day and night? Will he wait in helping them? No, he will grant them justice, quickly.”
I am so thankful that when I am facing an injustice, whether being taken advantage of, falsely accused that God will not be slack in His response to help me. Jesus is saying that God will listen and grant justice to His chosen ones quickly!
No matter what the situation was, Jesus developed a reputation to those around Him that He was dependable, and righteous, so many times throughout the Scriptures we see situations Jesus was pressed into where the defining moment was knowing that justice would be served.
There is a saying in the world that the “squeaky wheel gets the oil”
It means that if you are loud and annoying enough, people will do what you want to get you to shut up……in other words, loud and obnoxious people tend to be heard and heeded. This widow was not giving in until she received what she felt was rightfully hers.
Sometimes you may think that God isn’t adjusting the scales fast enough in your wronged situation. I’ve counseled with some people recently who are facing a struggle as they pray for the injustice in their lives. They’ve shared that they’ve prayed and prayed over a situation and have received an apparent silence from God for their requests.. To their frustration they end up giving up praying for that injustice because God just doesn’t seem to be answering….
If you have, you are not alone…..I am sure all of us have faced times when prayer did not seem to be having any effect upon our situation. Maybe some of you right now find yourself facing a time of injustice; you’ve been wronged; you’ve prayed, and gathered friends together to pray with you over this and yet it may seem that God is silent.
Maybe you are finding yourself asking , why isn’t God listening? Or is He listening and we just don’t see the work that is going on?
For me, I’ve grown to learn that in every situation I may find myself in; whether it’s my doing or someone else’s wrong doing against me, God loves them too! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that by believing in Him, you would not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
Sometimes I can be quite a selfish person. The Bible says to me just how evil that can be. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
And just about the time I start feeling sorry for myself because I’ve been wronged I’m reminded in my Bible what an extremely selfish person I am: ” O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:24
“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1
And so, when we have been wronged, we need to pray. And when it seems that our prayers for justice aren’t getting the kind of response we’d like, we need to quit feeling sorry for ourselves and yielding to the alluring of our flesh, that suggest we are wasting time praying, and take matters into our own hands.
There are some, who see the only resolve in an injustice is to take matters into your own hands. All you have to do is open up your newspaper and take a look at the front page news, and see how much of this attitude prevails in our society. Sadly, those very same people find themselves in court, for trying to be the judge in someone else’s in justice. The Bible warns against the danger of this kind of action. ……“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
There are so many times I look back in my life and remember the consequences of doing what was right at the time….. only to find myself as one who didn’t stop and think just how things were going to turn out. Oh there are times when we don’t have much time to think about what to do, we just seem to be led to them, and later conclude that it wasn’t us at all, it was but by Divine Intervention. I believe that when we allow God to guide our steps, especially when we really don’t have the answer, I can see clearly the footsteps of a loving and caring God, who can do the impossible without a mistake.
“Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1
And so, what do we learn from this today? Two things I need to remember when I am caught in a situation where injustice has come my way.
1. Don’t take matters into your own hand.
2. Instead, begin to pray persistently.
All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Jesus is telling us to pray persistently. The widow is persistent in pleading her case for justice and even an unjust judge, because of her persistence, gives her what she requests.
But why does God want us to pray persistently? Why can’t we just pray once and have Him answer us? I think it is because when I am praying persistently, I tend to find myself more focused on One who not only sees the situation, but has power to bring a righteous judgment. A judgment that will leave both sides satisfied with the results. When I am focused in my prayers, I tend to leave the problem with God, and immediately I have the peace of God who is in me. I’m no longer striving to make things work under my own puny strength!
And so, I need to be focused in my persistent prayer over a matter like this. Let go, and let God give you the victory in it! This widow had a legitimate need, and she kept going back to the one who could meet her need. Even though this judge did not ‘fear God or care about people’ God still gave him power. And so this widow was focused on who had the power to meet her need.
There is a matter, that I have been praying over for the last year. Throughout this time, I confess that I’ve determined through my prayers for it, that even though the answer hasn’t come completely, I am confident that God is at work preparing the things associated with this while I am praying……
I believe that God has the better plan for my life and in this particular request. … “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) And yet I sometimes find instead of being focused on my prayer for this, I find myself distracted. I know when this comes in because it begins to take my attention on the bigness of God and the small-minded thinking of Marty.
Lovingly I am quickly corrected by the reading of the Word of God being often reminded by God who He is, which quickly sets my focus back on track. ” Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)
When I am focused on God’s ability over my unjust situation, I began to think about all the things God has done previously, and how the most powerful of the work was being done in seemingly silence…..oh what a comfort it is to me to know that God is working things out for me and that, “All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 When the month lasted longer than the money, He was working all things out! Oh what a joy it is to know this simple truth!
And so the Lord wants me to be persistent in my prayers, stay focused, and by so doing I am able to remember and see the greatness of God in my own life, and just know that He already has it worked out for good! Being focused in my prayer also helps me to see who I am in this picture.
The widow recognized that she in her own ability was powerless and could not get justice for herself. It is such a freedom to understand this thought. John the Baptist clearly understood this on meeting Jesus personally, how at the time so many people were coming to him for answers, and he was only able to point to the coming Messiah that not only had all the answers but the power to change injustice. He said later about his own power, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30)
I have learned to recognize in my own life just how powerless I am…..but as a child of God I have the capacity through Jesus to point them to Him for the answers. As I decrease in other people’s evaluation of me, and He increases in me, people are free to explore that freedom themselves by reading the Word of God and communing with Him in prayer. This is the ultimate focus…. When I need a reminder of the joy in this I am reminded of that old hymn written in 1922 by Helen L. Lemmel
” O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”
I can still remember fondly the day I turned my eyes off of my own powerless capacity and reached out to Jesus. When I came to recognize who I really was, really for all practical purposes, powerless! But oh, how God answered my cry, and in His power lifted me up and I became a child of God. John 1: 12 tells us that “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God”
There is a wonderful story about a Roman emperor in his chariot as a part of a parade, Cheering people lined the streets while the legionnaires were stationed to keep the people at a safe distance. The emperor’s family sat on a platform to watch him go by in all the pride of his position. As the emperor came near the place where his family was stationed, a young boy jumped from the platform, burrowed through the crowd, and tried to dodge a Legionnaire so he could run to the emperor’s chariot. The soldier stopped him and said, “You cannot go near him.” The boy laughed, then said; “He may be your emperor but he is my father.” Then he ran into his father’s open arms.
When I came to understand that as a child of God, He became my Father; and as a Father, He lovingly desires to give me the desires of my heart. And yet there are times my desires don’t always match up with what a loving Father knows is best for me at that time. Sometimes we can find ourselves in that place, kind of like the widow in this parable. We think that justice needs to be served swiftly; after all, ‘I am a child of God!’.
When I think in this way not knowingly my understanding becomes clouded, I seem to forget that God loves everything He created…..and that means even the person who brought that injustice across my path. And so as I persistently pray it helps me to focus on who I am and realize that I unable to handle this myself; and yet my Bible says I have help coming, if I would just pray!
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to know that whatever, whenever, I have a need, something weighing me down, that as a child of God, I can come and express myself before God. Especially, when I feel I’ve been wronged. It never fails that when I am in a tangle with someone it tends to leave me weak, worn out. What a joy it becomes when I pray persistently over things I have no control over. There simply is nothing left in me to stand against ill acts of injustice. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that, “For when I am weak….then I am strong.”
The peace and freedom that I can have in a difficult situation when someone stronger than me is priceless. There is such an exhilaration knowing that I don’t have to worry about that particular thing, I have prayed, and even though it didn’t appear like it wasn’t answered, I can come to the Father, and receive His grace upon grace.
When I am persistent in my prayer for a specific thing, here we talk about injustice, and I don’t see any results yet, I can tend to stop praying about it… You give it enough time and for certain, other things seem to come our way. Only later do we find God’s hand was at work all the time. The injustice we, at the time thought was most important comes out to be not as important as we thought… and so when I am regularly persistent in my prayers on certain matters that are important to me, I began to see a bigger picture than what I thought was so important, at that time.
But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
You see, when I am in a jam, I only look for one way out, for myself. I don’t always consciously look at all that is going around my problem. And yet, my Bible says that without a determined effort to become persistent in my prayers as I’m going through things, I tend to lose focus, and can even find myself wandering off the path.
However, when I am focused, praying like I mean it, letting go of the issue, lay it at the feet of a powerful God, I begin to see differently. I begin to see the things that God sees. Things that are important to Him. As I do this, I see people around me, that are just as lost in our perception of what God is doing, what God is fixing right before my eyes, and guess what? It’s not all about me! When I am not persistent in prayer especially in things dealing with injustice, I can lose sight, forget that my God is all about making things right….on both sides. What I thought was important; becomes not important, in the big picture. And so God wants me to pray persistently so I can keep focused on who He is. When I do this, I just don’t get so pre-occupied with all I want people to think that I am.
There is a temptation for me to garner other people’s appreciation for who I am, and what I can do in the lives of people around me. It use to be that if I didn’t garner this kind of response from people around me, I took it very hard internally. This is a very destructive form of bondage that when kept inside, will taint any fruit that God wants us to produce in our walks, our relationships with each other. It’s this temptation of the flesh, the ‘old man’ who still resides in this new body in Christ. It seems the ‘old man’ wants to get in on all the action that comes from a vibrant walk with God.
The problem is, you cannot bear fruit with his mindset. Walking with Jesus, means that He’s leading the way. Wherever He walks, there is always fruit. Withe the ‘old man’ the best he can conjure up is ‘plastic fruit’.
It’s amazing how much manufactures have come in making realistic products that look like the real thing! Unfortunately, the way prices are now; we can only look at imitation fruit. There is no smell of its sweetness, no feel at touch , no way we would ever attempt to eat it, unless we were fooled! In a similar way, God is the only One who can make real fruit. He made the fruit for a purpose, to be eaten, enjoyed.
Sometimes when I am praying persistently I can develop the attitude that I’ve never seen the result of my prayer therefore, I’m going to give up. Maybe God doesn’t want me to have it. And yet, it takes time for real fruit to develop, to become ripe. And I think part of why God wants us to persist in prayer is that by it, we began to bear fruit.
Let’s go back to our parable in Luke 18:5-7
“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?
Jesus was saying it’s only a matter of time, as God deems when the persistent prayer of the widow would……bear fruit! I can’t begin to tell you just how thrilled I am in knowing this truth! Imagine, my persistent prayer is finally going to pay off!
I find it invigorating when goals I have set for myself begin to take fruit! They become reachable, you can touch it, smell it! I have to confess, I have been trying to lose about 15 lbs. for months, and the other day, I finally saw evidence of all my persistent hard work! I can’t even begin to tell you how it felt to see that scale show minus 6 lbs.! I really think this is the same reaction God is training me in righteousness as I read my Bible and become persistent in my prayer time every day. The difference between this and my own ‘goals’ is that even though I have gained temporary power over my flesh, losing the weight, I am still powerless to keep it off! When I come to God in persistent prayer, I can come powerless, and experience the fruit HE produces as I let go and let Him do it!
Jesus says in John 15:7-8, ” If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.
It always amazes me how God would use people like us to labor with Him through our praying, and especially exciting when we begin to see answers to things we’ve prayed for ourselves but even more in the lives of other people we were praying for. This is the kind of fruit that the God is talking about.
It seems that when we hear the term, ‘bearing fruit’ we almost always see it manifested in what we perceive to be the ‘outcome’ of the thing itself. As if we had anything to do with it bearing fruit. The reality is that when we see ‘fruit bearing’ in someone else or our own lives it is because of laboring in prayers. The ‘fruit’ is actually evidence of answered prayers.
It has become a mystery how God has ordained prayer to work, and yet He gives us the privilege of praying, asking Him for our and others needs, and it’s all done so that everyone can see the glory of God at work!
There have been times when people will call me for prayer, and in due time, God answers those prayers. This is so incredibly awesome when I receive these calls back… ‘Marty, you’re not going to believe this, but God answered YOUR prayer! I just knew He would answer YOUR prayer because YOU are such a dedicated PRAYER WARRIOR!’ I can’t begin to tell you how utterly embarrassed I am when I hear this; since I had nothing to do with the answered prayer. Lovingly I have to remind the person that it is GOD who answered the prayer… I am powerless, I wouldn’t know where to start in answering a prayer; I simply do not have the ability or capacity to take any credit for it! And so we need to remember that our praying for others and God answering those requests is all about God, His power, His capacity to make it happen; therefore always make sure HE gets ALL the glory! I think God does this in this manner because other people will see the miraculous answered prayer and they themselves will turn to Jesus for their own needs! God alone gets the glory!
And so, our answered prayers become evidence and fruit because we can have this incredible opportunity with Jesus that He sees us worthy to allow us to partake in this great work that people who don’t know God can come to know Him by doing our part in introducing them to Him in prayer! Jesus promises us that He will never fail to do His part, the biggest part; answering the prayer for His glory.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8
Persisting in prayer means we will bear fruit as evidenced by answered prayers, which results in people seeing the glory of God alive in and around their lives. When people see God answering our prayers, people see a Living God. One able to meet their needs also!
Finally, not only does our persistent praying keep us focused, and fruitful, it gives me an opportunity to demonstrate my faith.But not only does persistent prayer help
“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 18:8
When I am persisting in my prayers I am saying, God, I believe in you! It’s amazing how many everyday things and events in your daily lives that we believe in. We see the Postman delivering mail and packages and we believe that he’s honest. We order our ‘InnOut’ burger with extra, extra tomatoes, and crispy fries, and we believe that when we get it, it will be just as we asked. We believe that the car was fixed,…etc. And yet when it comes to believing God, taking Him at His Word in prayers, we do fall short. I believe that’s the reason God gives us so many opportunities to exercise this gift, that by seeing more prayers answered, we’ll believe that God will answer them.!
Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him
Have you ever prayed, even persisted in your prayers and yet were left with the thought that maybe God isn’t listening to my prayer? I know there have been times in my frustration, (later to find out in my flesh) that even though I was being persistent in my prayers, something was missing. I just couldn’t get a handle on it until someone just happened to say, have you tried reading the Scriptures about God’s promises during prayer and all the answered prayer examples in the Word of God?
Have you ever experienced a time when it seems God is silent. There just doesn’t seem like things aren’t moving at all? I was reading Psalm 77 where it appears as though God was unresponsive to the prayers of the psalmist; as if God was silent. I remember reading a book by Ray Stedman where he said that the ‘reason why God would allow the psalmist to go through such a time of trial, doubt, and despair’ was that “God wanted the psalmist to move to a deeper level of faith.” And when we become even more persistent in our prayers, God is deepening our faith, maturing us in our relationship with Him. By no means has He left you; He is even closer than ever.
God uses our prayer life especially as we become persistent to deepen our walks with Him, and in what appear to be time gaps where nothing appears to be happening to strengthen our bond with Him. It keeps us focused and as we become aware of our powerless condition it helps us to see His strength and power, and come to recognize trials and testings as opportunities God has given us to grow and draw deeper in our relationship with Him. All this results in others seeing God in action throughout all our lives, (Good & Bad) and see the glory of God working through us!
Jeremiah 33:3 says: “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
When I do business with God, then God will do business with me! This verse teaches me that God moves in response to my prayers. Let us never forget this.
There is a great illustration on the power of persistence as demonstrated by a lowly ant.
In relating a story from his early life, there was a man named Tamerlane, an Oriental Conqueror who once told his friends this story, titled: “Observe the Ant”
He said, “I once was forced to take shelter from my enemies in a dilapidated building where I sat alone for many hours. Wishing to divert my mind from my hopeless situation, I fixed my eyes on an ant carrying a kernel of corn……. larger than itself up a high wall……..I counted its attempts to accomplish the feat. The corn fell 69 times to the ground…..but the insect persevered……..And then, the 70 time it reached the top. The ant’s accomplishment gave me courage for the moment, and I never forgot the lesson.
Let Persistent praying become a daily part of your life, you’ll find that you’ll never walk away empty handed!
Lord, thank You for the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, of whom without we would be sorely lacking in our communion through our prayers to You. Forgive me when I become restless when I am not focused, knowing Your perfect plan is in place, yes Lord, ‘You are to increase, and I must decrease’ that I see my powerless condition to reveal Your Might! Thank You God that silence doesn’t mean anything more than I get to spend time closer to You. Bless all those who have taken the time to understand the importance of persistence in our prayers!
Today’s video Enjoy!