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The Power of Persistent Prayer

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THE POWER OF PERSISTENT PRAYER

Text: Lk. 18:1-8  -  PPHC Revival – 2/21/07

Intro: Most of us are familiar with Ted Turner, the cable television millionaire. Turner, at the American Humanist Association banquet, where he received an award for his work on the environment and world peace, openly criticized fundamental Christianity. He said, "Jesus would be sick at his stomach over the way his ideas have been twisted." He went on to say, "I’ve been saved seven or eight times. But, I gave up on it, when, despite my prayers, my sister died. The more I strayed from my faith, the better I felt!"

     Ted Turner is dead wrong, but he is perfectly reflecting the attitude many hold concerning God and the matter of prayer. Many people will pray about something for a while and when the answer doesn’t come when they think it should, they just throw up their hands in defeat and say, “What’s the use?” Many of us wouldn’t admit that tonight, but we have done the same thing! This passage is a challenge to that notion!

     In these verses, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples a parable that is designed to teach them the importance of remaining persistent in prayer. I would like us to examine this parable together this evening because we need to hear the truths that are taught here. These truths teach us about The Power Of Persistent Prayer.

I. THE CRY OF THE WIDOW

 A. Her Demand (v. 3) - We do not know the nature of this woman’s burden, but she had a grievance against someone that was weighing very heavily upon her heart.

 B. Her Disadvantages (v. 3)- She had several things working against her, when it came to seeking redress before a court of law.

  1. She was a woman and women were not allowed to speak in court.

  2. She was a widow and she had no husband to speak for her.

   a. Widows were a segment of society that was oppressed and often taken advantage of.

   b. Widows were synonymous with being poor. She had no money with which to grease the wheels of justice. She couldn’t have paid a bribe had she had wanted.

 C. Her Determination (v. 5b)

·       The Bible refers to her “continual coming”. This phrase has the idea that she was begging this judge for help every day. When he would show up for court, there she was. When he went into the marketplace, there she was. She pleaded with him in front of his friends. She stalked him at home. Everywhere he went; there she was, constantly asking him to give her satisfaction.

 D. Her Desperation

  1. She had no other hope but to get help from this judge. So she made a nuisance of herself before him.

  2. This widow represents us. -  “What’s the use?”… we might say.

·         Let us learn the lesson that persistence in prayer pays off in God’s time!

II. THE COLDNESS OF THE JUDGE

 A. He Was Corrupt (v. 2)

  1.  Did not care anything about God or man…cared only for himself.

   a. Judicial system: “The courtroom …was a movable tent – as the judge covered his circuit. The judge, not the law, set the agenda; and he sat regally in the tent, surrounded by his assistants. Anybody could watch the proceeding from outside, but only those who were approved and accepted could have their cases tried. This usually meant bribing one of the assistants so that he could call the judge’s attention to the case...” [Warren Weirsbe. Be Courageous Luke 14-24. (Wheaton, ILL.: Victor Books, 1989) p. 62]

 B. He Was Calloused (v. 4a)

  1. Though he knew the widow had a case, he would not do as she asked. He turned a deaf ear.

  2. He was hard-hearted and closed-minded to the needs of others.

 C. He Was Condescending (v. 4b-5)

  1. In the end, he helped her…but WHY? The answer lies in v. 5

   a. Troubleth - This word comes from two words that mean, “to reach forth to beat another or to cause another trouble.

   a. Weary - This word means “to beat down, to blacken the eye”.

·         This means that her continually coming before him and her constant crying was hurting this man’s reputation. She was giving him a “black eye” in the community!

 ·   The lesson here: We may not get the answer we want immediately, but we must keep asking and keep believing. God will answer in His time!

Illust. John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher, encountered many times of refusal, and denial, during his early years in the ministry. He logged a few of these instances in his diary:

*SundayA.M., May 5: Preached in St. Anne’s. Asked not to come back.

*Sunday P.M., May 5: Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said, "Get out, and stay out!"

*Sunday A.M., May 12:Preached in St. Jude’s. Can’t go back there either.

*Sunday P.M., May 19: Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting, and said I couldn’t return.

*Sunday A.M., May 26: Preached on street. Kicked off street.

*Sunday A.M., June 2: Preached at the edge of town. Kicked off highway.

*Sunday P.M., June 2: Preached in a pasture. Ten thousand came.

"The great fault of the children of God is, they do not continue in prayer; they do not go on praying; they do not persevere!"                                                                  George Mueller

III. THE CONTRAST WITH OUR FATHER - delights in answering the prayers of His elect

 A. He Hears His People  (v. 7)

  1. His ear is ever open to the cry of His children - Isa. 65:24; Jer. 33:3; 1 John 5:14-15.

 B. He Honors Their Persistence  (v. 7)

  1. Sometimes the answer to prayer is delayed. The key is not giving up!

  2. God isn’t just making us wait, He is working out the answers we seek.

·         Persistent prayer demonstrates the depth of our burden. Keesp you there until He answers

C. He Handles Their Petitions

  1. God isn’t turning a deaf ear to your prayer. Because real prayer always begins with God. “The Spirit burdens our hearts and we offer the burden back to God, Who is already busily engaged in bringing about the answer, Rom. 8:26-27.”                            Rev. Alan Carr

  2. Confidence – God is burdening our hearts and the provision has already been met.

IV. THE CHALLENGE TO THE SAINTS

(Note: What are we to do with this message? I think the answer can be summed up by 2 simple challenges that will make all the difference in our prayer lives.)

A. Be Committed To Prayer (v. 1)

  1. Jesus says that we “ought always to pray”.

  2. 1 Thes. 5:17 -  “Pray without ceasing”  - has the idea of “no intermission”.

  3. Prayer is more than an obligation. It is also an opportunity.

 B. Be Consistent In Prayer (v. 1)

  1. “Not to faint” - “to lose heart, to become slothful, to grow weary”. (Gal. 6:9)

·         “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Conc: While crossing the Atlantic, on an oceanliner, F.B. Meyer was asked to address the passengers on the subject of answered prayer. An agnostic, who was present at the service was asked, "What did you think of Dr. Meyer’s sermon?" To which he replied, "I didn’t believe a word of it."

     Later that afternoon, the agnostic was on his way to another service, just to hear, as he put it, what the "babbler had to say." He put two oranges in his pocket, and as he walked toward the meeting place, he passed an elderly woman, who was sitting in her chair, fast asleep. In the spirit of fun, the man slipped those two oranges into her outstretched palms.

     After the meeting, he saw the old lady happily eating one of those oranges. He remarked, "You seem to be enjoying those oranges ma’am!"

To which she replied, "Yes sir, my Father is very good to me!" He said, "Your Father? Surely you father can’t still be alive!" She exclaimed, "Praise God, He’s very much alive!" She then went on to explain it to the agnostic, and said, "You see, I’ve been sea sick for days. I was asking God to somehow send me an orange to help ease my sickness. I suppose I fell asleep while I was praying. However, when I woke up, I found that He had not only sent me one orange, but two!" To this response, the agnostic was speechless. Later on that same cruise, he was converted to Christ, and was made a believer that God answers prayer!

     Keep on praying saints! The answer is on the way!

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