1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5 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!'" 6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 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? 8 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?"
In Jesus' parable this widow faced a terrible judge. He didn't have any fear of God, nor did he care what other people thought about him. He was probably a Gentile judge designated by the Roman authorities. Judgeships were sold and bought, and a judge could make a good living from the bribes that were common. Our widow had no money to bribe this wicked judge, so her only recourse was to come before him repeatedly crying, "Grant me justice against my adversary! Grant me justice against my adversary!" He dismissed her claim, but she kept coming back, constantly begging him for justice. He must have thought, "Oh, no, not HER again!" In verse 5, he admits she bothered him. The word translated "bothering" literally means to "poke in the eye." He was upset because she was constantly in his face. This constant begging and nagging finally paid off-he ruled in her favor. There are at least three important prayer principles Jesus taught in the parable. They are:
DON'T WORRY - PRAY!
In the parable, the widow didn't sit at home wringing her hands about her problem. Instead of worrying, she got up and approached the only person who could help her - the judge. In verse one Jesus said we ought always to pray and not to give up. The NASB says, "Pray and do not lose heart." The Greek word translated "give up" is enkenkao. It literally means to "be filled with bad thoughts." Worry is filling your mind with bad thoughts of the worst that could happen.
William Ward wrote this about worry: "Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat...Worry is a magnet that attracts negative circumstances...Worry is wasting today's time to clutter up tomorrow's opportunities with yesterday's troubles." Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair - it gives you something to do, but you never go anywhere with it.
The Apostle Paul was stuck in a Roman dungeon facing the possibility of having his head chopped off. Instead of worrying about dying, he prayed and in addition to praying, he wrote some letters to encourage Christians to pray instead of worrying. Look at his word found in Philippians 4:6-7. Remember, these words were penned by a man sitting in a damp, dark, depressing dungeon:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
DON'T QUIT - PRAY PERSISTENTLY!
In the parable, the poor widow kept on begging the judge to grant her justice. She didn't just ask once and say, "Let me know what you decide." She peppered his ears with persistent petitions. Have you ever asked God for something, and when He didn't answer your prayer immediately, you quit praying? That's a big mistake.
The most effective prayers in the Bible are those that were prayed persistently. In Psalm 55:16-17, David wrote: "I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice." David wasn't one of those one-a-day vitamin prayers. He was an all-day pray-er!
In the Old Testament, Hannah desperately wanted a child. For many years she prayed and prayed to have a child. After her prayer was unanswered for years she didn't say, "Well, it must not be God's will for me to have a child." She kept on praying for years, and eventually God gave her a son-Samuel, the mighty prophet.
Even Jesus prayed persistently. On the night before the crucifixion, He was in the Garden of Gethsemane pouring out His heart to His Father. His prayer burden was so intense there were drops of blood, like sweat on His forehead. He prayed, "Father, take this cup from me-but not my will but yours be done!" He prayed it again and again. Three times He cried out to His Father-and His Father heard Him and gave Him the strength and resolve to face the cross.
George Mueller. He wrote these words about praying: "The great point is never to give up until the answer comes. I have been praying for 63 years and 8 months for one man's conversion. He is not saved yet, but he will be. How can it be otherwise? I am praying." George Mueller died and the man was still not saved. But as they lowered Muller's casket into the ground, the man repented of his sins and trusted Jesus as his savior-that's persistent praying!
DON'T DOUBT - PRAY POSITIVELY!
You must expect God to answer your prayers. If you doubt that you'll receive an answer, chances are you won't. In James 1, we are told when we pray for wisdom God will give it to us generously. Then James adds a powerful warning about letting doubt creep into your prayers. He writes: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:6-7) Compare that to the positive promise we find in I John 5:14-15: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him."
I've known people who have quit praying because they didn't seem to get an answer. If I walk into a room and flip the light switch, I expect the light to come on. If it doesn't, I don't curse Thomas Edison and say electricity is a lie. I start looking for the problem. Maybe the light bulb is burned out, or a breaker has been thrown, or the power is out. If it seems your prayers aren't answered, don't quit praying-start looking for the reason. It may be the wrong request, or you may have unconfessed sin in your life, or the timing may not be right. God always answers prayer. But He answers prayer in different ways.
God may answer your prayer QUICKLY
I heard about a lady who was rushing to the mall to buy something. It was pouring rain and she didn't have an umbrella. As she drove into the parking lot she said, "Please, please, Lord let me find a good parking place near the front door." Just as she said those words she saw the back-up lights of a car as it backed out the best parking space in the entire lot. She said, "Never mind, Lord, I've found one myself!" What a joke! God answered her prayer so quickly she didn't even have time to understand it was God at work.
God may answer your prayer LATER
When your prayer is heard in heaven, God acts on the request immediately, but it may take awhile before you get His answer. An example of this can be found in Daniel 10. Daniel prayed and the angel Gabriel was dispatched to give Daniel his answer. Gabriel reported Daniel's prayer had been heard and answered immediately, but the Prince of Persia (a demonic spirit) resisted Gabriel in delivering God's answer. The archangel Michael had to fight against the Prince of Persia so Daniel could get his answer. During the delay, Daniel hadn't stopped praying. So if it seems God hasn't answered your prayer yet, don't quit! The answer could be just around the corner. God's delays are not God's denials. Our sense of timing is flawed, but God's timing is impeccable. So pray persistently, and then wait patiently for His answer.
God may answer your prayer BETTER
Sometimes you don't get what you ask for because God has something better in store for you. Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham once said, "If God answered every prayer of mine, I would have married the wrong man seven times!"
God may answer your prayer NO
Sometimes you ask God for something and His answer is simply, "NO." But that's still an answer to prayer. Don't ever stop praying until you hear God say, "No." At that point, stop making that request and start praying in a different way.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "Prayer is request. The essence of a request, as distinct from a demand, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant them and sometimes refuse them...If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where should I be now?"
PUSH - Pray Until Something Happens!
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