Called to Pray
In Luke 18 verses 1-8, there is an often overlooked parable of a widow bringing her case before an unjust judge. The judge dismisses the woman several times, refusing to listen to her. However, her persistence pays off, as the judge eventually relents, saying, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 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!”
Jesus follows up the parable by instructing his disciples, “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.”
What an encouragement it is to know that just as the widow had an effect on an unjust judge through her persistence, even more we can count on the maker of the Heavens and the Earth to hear our cries through persistent prayer!
Often, in my own life, I’ve rationalized my desires by thinking, “Well, God knows what is best anyway, so what does it matter if I keep praying for this? If it’s His will He will do it.” This is precisely the wrong attitude to have regarding prayer, and I have to stop myself every time I begin thinking that way. The lesson from Luke 18 is to always pray and not lose heart. God is sovereign, and He knows what is best for us 100% of the time, but still He chooses to work through the prayers of His people. We are exhorted throughout Scripture to “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and not to “be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
As the great author on prayer and the Civil War chaplain E.M Bounds states in The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, “The tenor of Christ’s teachings is to declare that men are to pray earnestly—to pray with an earnestness that cannot be denied. Heaven has harkening ears only for the wholehearted, and the deeply earnest. Energy, courage, and perseverance must back the prayers which heaven respects and God hears.” Too often, we rationalize why God will or will not answer a specific prayer request—and therein lies our immediate problem. God has the power to do anything that He wills, and while we may not know how God will respond in a certain situation, we have to believe in the very center of our hearts and minds that God does hear our prayers and is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).