61 Luke 18.1-8
v Opening Illustration
Ø Winston Churchill was the backbone of the English in a time when they needed it, WWII
§ So many times the outlook appeared bleak at best
· His speeches encouraged the people to go on
v Famous speeches such as…
Ø Blood, toil, tears and sweat
Ø We shall fight on the beaches
Ø Do your worst and we will do our best
v But perhaps no speech is as well-known and inspiring as his Oct 29, 1941 speech given at the Harrow School
Ø After barely surviving the Battle for Britain and the difficult months that followed it
§ He said…
…surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty….Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
v Britain was embroiled in a war that they seemingly could not win
Ø Yet time and time again the leader of Britain encouraged his people…
§ “Do not give up!”
· Never, never, never, never
¨ And that is our message today from Jesus Christ
v You see…We too are embroiled in a battle
Ø A war that many times seems like we cannot win
§ Not against flesh and blood as Britain was…
· But against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms
¨ As Ephesians 6 puts it
v And Jesus encourages us today
Ø Never give up!
Ø READ 18:1-8
v In some parables it is difficult to understand the main point
Ø But in this one he states it right up front…
§ V. 1 ~ Always pray and not give up
v If you are sitting here today and truly believe what the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6
Ø That we are engaged in a bitter spiritual battle
§ We need weapons
· Not physical ones, but spiritual ones
¨ And Eph 6 tells us that we have many defenses (Open to Eph 6)
Ø Helmet ~ Salvation
Ø Shield ~ Faith
Ø Breastplate ~ Righteousness
Ø Belt ~ Truth
Ø Shoes ~ peace
§ But only one offensive weapon
· 6:17 tells us we have the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
¨ But is that true…Only one?
v I think the text here tells us that we have two offensive weapons
Ø We usually stop at verse 17, but read verse 18
§ And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests
· Our other weapon against our adversary is Prayer!
¨ And prayer is Powerful
Prayer is Powerful
v James 5:16
Ø The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective
§ John Wesley said…
· Give me preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer
¨ If we only understood that
Ø We would be on our knees constantly
§ Prayer is powerful
v But I am not sure how many Christians realize how powerful prayer is
In Hugh Price Hughes' story, the "City of Everywhere," a man arrived in a city one cold morning. As he got off the train, the station was like any other station with the crowds and redcaps, except that everybody was barefooted. They wore no shoes. He noticed the cab driver was barefooted. "Pardon me, I was just wondering why you don't wear shoes. Don't you believe in shoes?"
"Sure we do," said the driver.
"Why don't you wear them?"
"Ah, that's the question," came the reply. "Why don't we wear shoes? Why
At the hotel it was the same. The clerk, bell boys, everybody was barefooted. In the coffee shop he noticed a nice-looking fellow at a table opposite him who was also barefooted. He said, "I notice you aren't wearing any shoes. I wonder why? Don't you know about shoes?"
The man replied, "Of course I know about shoes."
"Then why don't you wear them?"
"Ah, that's the question. Why don't we? Why don't we?"
After breakfast he walked out on the street in the snow but every person he saw was barefooted. He asked another man about it, and pointed out how shoes protect the feet from cold. The man said, "We know about shoes. See that building yonder? That is a shoe factory. We are proud of that plant and every week we gather there to hear the man in charge tell about shoes and how wonderful they are”
"Then why don't you wear shoes?"
"Ah, that's the question”
Don't we believe in prayer? Don't we know what it could mean in our lives? Then why don't we pray? Ah, that's the question. . . Why don't we?!
v According to Scripture, prayer…
Ø Breaks strongholds in your life
Ø Averts evil
Ø Extends God’s mercy
Ø Forgives sin
Ø Actives God’s promises
Ø Evidences true conversion
Ø Saves us from affliction
Ø Defeats our enemy, Satan
§ And on and on and on…
· Prayer is a powerful weapon!
¨ And Yahweh wants us to know that
v Illustration: North Korea
Ø Last week, N. Korea detonated a Nuclear bomb
Ø They are now “Nuclear”
§ They have the ultimate weapon in their arsenal
§ They possess a weapon that is capable of defeating any enemy that comes against them
v That is what prayer is to the Christian
Ø A Nuclear device
§ And we must realize this and realize that Jesus encourages us to us this weapon often by…
v Court in the ANE was held very differently than in today’s culture…
Ø It was typically held in an open tent within the city
§ Anybody could wander up and listen to the cases being judged
Ø Unlike today, the judge decided which cases he was to hear, and which he was not
§ Usually by 2 factors:
· Who had given the biggest bribe
· And by standing within the community
v A widow had little chance of having her case heard
Ø Widows had little or no money and the same with her standing in society
§ So this widow knew her case would never come before the judge
· So she came to the tent day after day and shouted from the gallery
¨ “Grant me justice against my adversary”
Ø Over and over again
Ø Day in, day out
§ “Grant me Justice…Grant me justice”
Ø Never ceasing
§ And like the dripping of water, it eventually got to the judge
v The point Jesus wants to make through the widow is…
Ø Be like her in your prayers
§ Coming again and again to the ultimate good and just judge
· Pray always, persistently, continuously
¨ Nuclear weapons are seen as a last resort in our culture
Ø But Jesus wants us to use our nuclear weapons all the time!
Ø 1 Thes 5:17 ~ Pray continually
Ø Rom 12:12 ~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
v Be persistent in prayer!
Ø Illustration: Ringing the Bell tower Bell
§ When I first got hear, the rope in the bell tower intrigued me
· I wanted to see if it still could be rung
¨ I pulled the rope once
Ø Little happened
¨ I pulled several times…
Ø And a little momentum got going
¨ I pulled 7 or 8 times and finally got a slight ring of the bell
· I pulled over and over and got the bell really ringing
v Charles Spurgeon…
Ø "Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give only an occasional jerk at the rope. But he who communicates with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might"
v Jesus has told us through this parable the Why and How of prayer
Ø He now tells us what to pray for…
Pray for Justice
v The woman in the parable comes every day to the judgment tent and stands out in the crowd and yells the same thing
Ø “Grant me justice against my adversary”
§ We are not told what the injustice is
· But only that she was taken advantage of
· That she was afflicted
· That because of who she was
¨ The world was not just and fair to her
v And that is as true now as it was back then
Ø This world is not fair
Ø It is not just
§ This life is not in balance
· Just look around…
¨ God is mocked
¨ The truth is pushed to the side
¨ Morality is stood on it head
¨ Greed is good
¨ Homosexuality is applauded
¨ The righteous are persecuted
Ø It seems most of the time
§ What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right
v So the Lord encourages us …Pray for justice
Ø That is what he taught us to pray for in The Lord’s Prayer
§ Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
· We are praying for the perfect and just will of Yahweh to reside here on earth
¨ Looking forward to that time when he will come again
Ø That is what we see being prayed for when the 5th seal is opened in Rev 6:10
§ The martyrs cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
· They are praying for justice
Ø That is what we read in those difficult imprecatory psalms
§ Those psalms that cry out in graphic sometimes difficult terms for justice to be accomplished
· Ps 139:19-22
¨ If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies
Ø What we are doing when we pray those imprecatory prayers is sowing the seeds of Justice
In the book The Ascent of a Leader the authors tell of a woman who has a dream where she wanders into a shop at the mall and finds Jesus behind a counter. Jesus says, "You can have anything your heart desires."
Astounded, she asks for peace, joy, happiness, wisdom, and freedom from fear. Then she adds, "Not just for me, but for the whole earth."
Jesus smiles and says, "I think you misunderstand me. We don't sell fruit, only seeds."
v That is what the woman was doing by calling out to the judge time and time again
Ø Sowing the seeds of justice
§ She did not know when or even if justice would come to her
· But she cast the seeds out by calling out to the judge
v And that is what we are called to do
Ø Pray again and again for justice
§ Praying for that glorious day when our Lord will return
· Praying for that Day of Divine Justice
v But our marching orders for right now are…PRAY
Ø Realizing that prayer is indeed powerful
Ø Sowing the seeds of Divine Justice
Ø Grabbing the rope of prayer and…
§ Never, never, never, never giving up
Ø Imprecatory Prayers
§ Ps 28:4-5; 59:12-13; 70;
· Rev 6:9ff
¨ 6th seal opened and Martyrs cry out
Ø Reasons for imprecatory Psalms:
§ earnest pleadings to God ask that he step in and right some matters so grossly distorted that if his help does not come, all hope for justice is lost
§ They are not statements of personal vendetta, but utterances of zeal for the kingdom of God and his glory
§ These prayers express a fierce abhorrence of sin and a desire to see God’s name and cause triumph
§ Finally, these imprecations only repeat in prayer what God had already stated elsewhere would be the fate of those who were impenitent and who were persistently opposing God and his kingdom
Ø That is what we are doing when we pray for Justice
Long-ago, a couple felt called to Africa as missionaries. They feared their calling for at that time the African mission field was known as "The White Man's Grave." But they decided to go with one caviat.
While addressing the church on the night before they were to leave, the husband said, "My wife and I have a strange dread in going. We feel much as if we were going down into a pit. We are willing to take the risk and go if you, our home church, will promise to “hold the ropes” and pray for us."
One and all promised to do so.
In less than two years his wife and their infant child had succumbed to the malaria. Soon the husband realized he too had contracted the fatal disease. Not waiting to send word of his coming, he started back home at once and arrived at the time of the Wednesday prayer meeting. He slipped in unnoticed, taking a back seat. At the close of the meeting, he went forward. An awe came over the people, for death was written on his face.
He addressed the church and said, "I am your missionary. My wife and child are buried in Africa and I have come home to die. This evening I listened anxiously as you prayed for some mention of your missionary to see if you were keeping your promise, but in vain! You prayed for everything connected with yourselves and your home circle, but you forgot your missionary. I see now why I am a failure as a missionary. It is because you have failed to hold the ropes.