National Day of Prayer week continues to have me thinking about this means of grace and the desire to grow in it, especially in the virtue of perseverance in prayer.
Jesus told a parable in Luke 18:1-8 to drive home the need for persistence in prayer.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The point is obvious, especially when one takes into account the eschatological context of chapter 17. No matter what the delay, nor how great the opposition, we ought always to pray for and not lose heart over the prospect of the Lord’s coming and His timely justice. The divine promise is unequivocal. He will give justice speedily to His elect. The expected product then to cultivate as a result is faith, tenacious faith that fires up day and night prayers for all kinds of things, not the least of which is His coming to judge the world in righteousness.
The application, like the point, is also obvious. Pray. Always pray. Don’t stop praying. A prayerless Christian is an oxymoron. Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary. Don’t give in to evil in all its forms as it harasses you. God will come through. He will avenge you of your adversary. Consider how much more you and I have going for us than this poor widow. Matthew Henry enumerated these advantages in his commentary:
- This widow was a stranger, nothing related to the judge; but God’s praying people are his own elect, whom he knows, and loves, and delights in, and has always concerned himself for.
- She was but one, but the praying people of God are many, all of whom come to him on the same errand, and agree to ask what they need.
- She came to a judge that bade her keep her distance; we come to a Father that bids us come boldly to him, and teaches us to cry, Abba, Father.
- She came to an unjust judge; we come to a righteous Father (John xvii. 25), one that regards his own glory and the comforts of his poor creatures, especially those in distress, as widows and fatherless.
- She came to this judge purely upon her own account; but God is himself engaged in the cause which we are soliciting; and we can say, Arise, O Lord, plead thine own cause; and what wilt thou do to thy great name?
- She had no friend to speak for her, to add force to her petition, and to use interest for her more than her own; but we have an Advocate with the Father, his own Son, who ever lives to make intercession for us, and has a powerful prevailing interest in heaven.
- She had no promise off speeding, no, nor any encouragement given her to ask; but we have the golden sceptre held out to us, are told to ask, with a promise that it shall be given to us.
- She could have access to the judge only at some certain times; but we may cry to God day and night, at all hours, and therefore may the rather hope to prevail by importunity.
- Her importunity was provoking to the judge, and she might fear lest it should set him more against her; but our importunity is pleasing to God; the prayer of the upright is his delight, and therefore, we may hope, shall avail much, if it be an effectual fervent prayer.
Where have you given up in prayer? Where have you caved in to discouragement and despair? Where have you left off believing God for His justice and goodness?
Take your cue from the persistent widow and take up the weapon of persevering prayer knowing that your petitions come before a God who is no unrighteous judge who will give justice to His elect and speedily at that.
And, please, please, don’t forget to barrage the gates of heaven in persistent prayers for His favor on our capital campaign these five weeks for reaching our goal for the building fund!