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0004. 9-30-2007 Perseverance in Prayer Luke 18 1-8

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4. 9-30-2007 Perseverance in Prayer Luke 18:1-8

In our series on New Beginnings/Familiar Roads we have looked again at the Great Commission and the work of ministry that our Lord has given His church until He calls us all home. And last week we looked at John 15 and were reminded that Christ must be the life of His church, not programs, in doing the work of ministry if they expect to produce spiritual fruit unto the glory of God the Father.

In our passage this morning, we are going to see that God wants us to come to him in prayer with great perseverance.

Listen to these words from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of these United States,  on persistence. He said- “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Do you see what he’s saying? It’s better to have persistence as a character trait than to simply have great talent, genius, or education.

Listen to the definition of perseverance according to the American Heritage Dictionary:

“To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.” 

Let me read that again-

So we are going to see this morning that you and I are to “persist in or remain constant in prayer especially when we face of obstacles and/or discouragement along this journey we call life.”

Open your Bible this morning to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18.

Well-  look at Luke 18 beginning with verse 1-

Luke 18:1     “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart”

A parable is a simple story that conveys a profound moral or spiritual reality. And here Luke let’s us know that Jesus is using a parable to teach His disciples something about prayer. Specifically, that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart. Now while this is true in a general sense of all people, and of all kinds of prayer. The sense in which it is used here is prayer for God’s deliverance in times of testing. Specifically, of praying without losing heart during the interval between Christ’s first advent and second advent. And not only did the disciples live during these trying days, but you and I are also living during these days as well.

And at the end of verse one, Jesus tells them not to do something- notice what it is- look at the end of verse one;

“That at all times they ought to pray and not – do what?- lose heart, the NIV translates it conceptually as- “not give up”.

The Greek word here translated “ lose heart”-can also be translated “to become weary” or “to become tired”.

So Jesus is going to use a parable to convey to His disciples that they are to pray again, and again, and again- without giving up or growing weary during the interval between His first and second advent-

Which is the immediate context in Luke chapter 17.

And this is exactly how you and I are to pray as well- at all times/without growing weary.

Now, notice the characters of this parable-

Look at verse 2-

Luke 18:2     “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man.”

Does that sound familiar? To me it sounds a lot like the type of judges certain members of our congress want to appoint to our Federal benches.

So the first character we see in our parable is that of an unjust judge who has no frame work to govern him morally.

He doesn’t fear God- so he’s not a wise judge, for the Proverbs tell us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

And he doesn’t respect man- so he’s not a compassionate judge. He has no moral compass by which to determine what is right and what is wrong.

He does what is right in his own eyes or in the eyes of the global community. And I believe it’s this type of character and morality that is characteristic of the spirit of the age that will wage war against the Lord and His children during the interval between Christ’s first and second coming. That of godlessness and immorality.

Well notice the next player in this parable- look at verse 3-

Luke 18:3     “And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’”

So the second character we see is that of a poor widow who is desperately in need of justice from this unrighteous judge who seems at first glance incapable of providing what she needs. IN the Jewish culture the widows and orphans were considered to be the most in need, and the Old Testament made it explicitly clear that such people were to be taken care of and provided for- as a matter of fact, in James 1:27 it says that pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is to visit orphans and widows in their distress.

And here we have a widow, one of the neediest of that culture, who is pleading for legal protection from a Judge who has no regard for what God thinks and who surely could careless for an insignificant widow.

So in Jesus’ parable here He uses two characters that purposely and perfectly depict the disparity between those who need justice (a widow), and those who should be able to provide justice (a judge).

And with the actions of this poor widow, who is stuck living in a period where injustice seems to rule the day, Jesus teaches his disciples here and His followers of any time, how they are to preserve in prayer in seemingly unjust times.

Now Look at verses 4-5

Luke 18:4-5 “And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man,

Yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she will wear me out.’”

Do you see what this widow does? She doesn’t lose heart in the face of injustice. She doesn’t grow weary in pursuing that which is right. But she continually brings her request before this judge. Day after Day after Day!

And this widows persistence literally wears the judge out. “Wear me out” in the Greek literally means “to give someone a black eye”. The judge says I will give her protection, lest by her continually coming she give me a black eye. In other words, this widow wears him out. Her persistence has him thinking about his reputation.

[It must have been an election year!]

She’s a nuisance to him. She has successfully drained him emotionally.

Listen, I have seen this happen to parents all the time. You go to the store with your kid, and inevitably they find something they know they just can’t live without. Have you been there- I know you have. And you end up buying something that you said NO to at least 10 times- WHY? Because by continually coming they wore you out! You became more concerned about your reputation as a parent in the eyes of the store clerk, so you gave in to their request.

And it’s the persistence of this widow that Jesus uses as the example for how the disciples were to pray and not lose heart. And it’s also the example for you and I, and how we are to be praying with great perseverance for God’s ultimate justice to prevail during a wicked day when injustice seems to be prevailing.

And what we are going to see at the end of this parable is how Jesus is going to link ones perseverance in prayer, as defined by this widow, to ones faith while waiting for God’s justice to ultimately prevail.

In other words, just believing that God’s justice will prevail at the return of Christ without praying isn’t a demonstrative faith.

I believe that’s why Jesus when teaching his disciples how to pray told them specifically to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.

Jesus said to them, again this is a model and not a mantra-

 “Pray then in this way, ‘Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. [The first thing we do is to recognize the greatness of God. But what is the very next aspect of Christ’s model prayer?] Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

So why would Jesus tell us to pray for something to come, namely the kingdom of God, which hasn’t come for some 2000 years now? And which may not come during any of our life times? Because the persistence of prayer, of continually coming to the only Judge who can truly give out justice, demonstrates a life of faith before God.

So notice how in verse 6-7 Jesus turns His attention to application of this truth- Look at v. 6-7

Luke 18:6-7

“And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said;

Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

Jesus said, ‘Did you notice why the unrighteous judge gave that widow justice? Did you hear what he said? And that’s the question for all of us as well today,

‘Did you hear what the unrighteous judge said?’ And the answer has to be yes- WE heard that he granted the widow justice because of her continually coming to him. Day after day after day- and she wore him out until he gave her justice.

Jesus’ point of application here for his disciples of any age, is that we need to demonstrate the same kind of tenacity and perseverance as illustrated by this widow when it comes to our prayer life. AMEN!

Then, Jesus says, look again at v.7-

Now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

In other words, if such an unjust judge can respond to repeated pleas from someone he doesn’t know or care about, how much more will a righteous God respond to His children. God patiently listens to His children, who continually, through perseverance come to Him in prayer, praying Thy kingdom come- Thy will be done.

And in verse 8 Jesus reminds His disciples that God’s justice will win the day-

look at verse 8-

“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.”

The point here is that God has not forgotten about his children, his elect. And that He will act soon to bring about justice for those who are looking and longing for his coming.

And though some 2000 years have passed and countless Christians have prayed Thy Kingdom come – and His kingdom hasn’t come yet, doesn’t mean that His kingdom isn’t going to come. I can assure you that on a timeline of eternity, that 2000 years is just a blip of time. But it also reminds us of Christ’s prayer, and the fact that He followed up Thy Kingdom come, with Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. So while our prayer is to be thy kingdom come- come soon Lord Jesus- followed by-yet not my will, but thy will be done.

However, he says at the end of verse 8-

Luke 18:8b

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

I believe the faith Jesus will be looking for is not simply an identification with his message, nor just a faith that avoids strange teaching. But what this passage seems to indicate is that He will be looking for those who are looking for him. During this interim period, will believers keep the faith?

In other words, will they pray with great perseverance while waiting and look for God’s ultimate justice? And though Jesus expresses this as a question, it seems that He is actually exhorting them to keep watching for that day. Simply put, he is calling for a faith that perseveres in allegiance to Himself. Which will be demonstrated through a persistence in prayer just as the widow persisted in petitioning the judge.

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