And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; – Luke 18:1
Are you bugging God? Maybe you should be…
I want to start by saying, no, we do not bug, or irritate God with our continually coming to him; we are invited to. However, I find it interesting that in these are the examples that I will share, Jesus paints a picture of one almost nagging to get their need met. As if we are to pray so incessantly, that it would irritate a fellow sinner. Our heavenly Father, however, is not an unjust judge, or a sinful friend, so he is never bothered or annoyed by our earnest prayers.
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? – Luke 18:1-8
Jesus compared God the Father to an unjust judge. He finally gave in to a lady’s nagging request because she was “troubling” or bugging him.
Men ought always to pray
In the text from Luke 18, Jesus’ main point was to teach that men ought always to pray. To always pray, here, is to not stop. Keep going before the throne, keep praying, keep persisting.
Not to faint
We faint when we give up. “Well, I tried and God did not answer.” Don’t faint, God wants to hear from you. Again. In 1 Peter 5:7, we’re admonished to cast ALL our care upon Him. He can handle the load, so keep casting, keep bringing it before Him.
A matter of faith
In Luke 18:8, the passage ends with Jesus finding faith. Jesus equates the widow’s continual coming before the judge to faith. It is a matter of faith. The woman in the parable knew the judge had the authority to grant her request. I can’t help but wonder if this is the reason why we give up. Do we mention something in prayer, than move on, thinking, “Well, I tried,” or do we pray fully understanding that we are bringing our request before the God of all creation, Who has the power and ability to grant our request?
“In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.” (Psalm 120:1)
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. – Luke 11:5-9
Here, Jesus gives a story of a neighbor asking for something at an inconvenient time. He gets his request– not because the man was so important to his friend, but because of his nagging. The word used is “importunity.” Not a common word, but it carries the idea of a shameless, urgent, persistence. He was not relenting with this request when his neighbor got up and gave him the loaves. This is the context in which we are invited to ask, seek, and knock.
Importunity has three things at the heart of the requester. His request is urgent, he is helpless, and he is persistent. In Luke 11, he gives this story of a man with a need.
The need is urgent– the person he must serve is there now, and he is unprepared.
He’s helpless– he can’t just run down to the market, its too late for that.
He’s persistent– His neighbor told him to go away, for he was already in bed. He finally arose to give to him not because of his friendliness, but because he wouldn’t go away.
These seem like strange concepts as Jesus compares proper praying to continual nagging to get one’s need met. If they were not in the Bible, we would think it ridiculous and would never suggest that we be relentless with our continual going to God and asking. This is the concept that God wants us to grab a hold of. As we have needs– and if we’re honest we have many– we go to God, by faith, and don’t quit. We keep coming until we get an answer. Sometimes the answer is no, but we continue nonetheless. Keep praying, keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking!
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)