Wednesday, March 07, 2007



Here in Luke 18 Jesus begins three teachings in a row to encourage His disciples to grow in their faith. He begins with the story of the persistent widow.

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?"

This story of the persistent widow was given to make a point. If even a corrupt judge could eventually be persuaded by the persistence of a widow, someone without standing or influence in society, how much more likely would the Lord be to respond to the persistent prayers of His followers?

Since Jesus is going to have to suffer and die before returning, things are likely to become very confusing. Therefore, it’s very important for the disciples to be faithful in prayer to be ready. This is why Jesus ends this section with a question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

For all of us today who are disciples of Jesus, He is teaching us to practice the habit of prayer that is characterized by persistence. Jesus is recorded teaching a similar concept in the gospel of Matthew: Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; Seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who keep on asking him! (Matthew 7:7-11)

In both cases the lesson is the same. If even those who are evil can be moved by persistence, how much more so will the Lord be moved? NOTE how the Lord longs for our participation in His plan. His return is already set in motion—a foregone conclusion. The decision was made before the foundations of the world were set in place. Yet He encourages us to keep praying for it, and to never give up till the day it happens. It's almost as if He's saying our prayers could influence the timing.

Whether or not that is true, it’s all a matter of single-mindedness and focus. Did you know that two-thirds of the prayers mentioned in the Bible, the prayers already knew the answer? So, it’s not that the purpose of our prayers is necessarily to change anything. The reason why we pray is a proactive act of dependency on the Lord. Prayer brings a spiritual focus to your everyday life. It’s one of the disciplines we can use to practice the presence of God in our lives every day.

You see, prayer may or may not change things, but it always, always, always will change you.