Luke 18 (1)
Pray Psalm 55.1-3.
Give ear to my prayer, O God,
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,
Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they bring down trouble upon me,
And in wrath they hate me.
Sing Psalm 55.1-3.
(Bread of Life: Break Thou the Bread of Life)
Hear now my prayer, O Lord, hide not from me.
Answer me by Your Word and set me free!
Wicked men sore oppress; restless am I.
Lord, ease my soul’s distress and hear my cry!
Read and meditate on Luke 18.1-8.
1.What did Jesus say about prayer?
2. How did the widow prevail against the judge?
As is clear from the end of this passage, prayer is a reliable measure of our faith. The amount of time we spend in prayer, the earnestness with which we approach this discipline, and our consistency in prayer are what Jesus is looking for from us as citizens of His Kingdom.
Prayer is our primary means of sharing in the Presence of God, and in Luke 18, Jesus will mark out some important parameters for the faithful and fruitful practice of this privilege.
Here the emphasis is on persistence in prayer. We “always ought to pray” according to Jesus (v. 1). That is, we must be always in communication, to some degree and at some level, with our King and Lord. Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in his instruction that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17). This does not require that we be always speaking. Rather, we need to be continuously aware of the Lord’s Presence with us and ready to praise or thank Him, or to seek mercy and grace for ourselves or others, as situations arise. If we maintain this attitude in prayer, we will frequently be reminded of His Presence in various ways.
If an unjust judge could be persuaded to give justice to a widow, simply because she persevered in seeking it from him, how much more will our just and loving heavenly Father grant us everything that we need for faithful and fruitful Kingdom living as we persevere in prayer?
We can actually realize Jesus’ expectation for us, as long as we don’t grow weary of the work of prayer. Set regular times to pray throughout the day. Let the things of creation, the people you love, your work, and the Word you read first thing in the morning remind you of the Lord’s Presence with you always (Matt. 28.20) and prompt you to engage Him through prayer. And watch your faith grow as you do.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Don’t you appreciate the way Jesus teaches us? He cares so much that we understand the concepts He is teaching that He takes the time to create these amazing stories to convey the truth.
Fingerplays and fables are not just for kids. All of us learn better through a relatable story.
And this is a good one. In a nutshell, what He wants us to ponder is this:
1. Always pray.
2. Don’t lose heart.
The characters are those in the extreme: The villain who rules in the seat of power, a godless judge; and the victim, a most helpless and vulnerable widow. And according to the Bible, an official widow is a woman without a husband and bereft of any family. A person completely alone and no doubt needy.
In Jesus’ parable, what is the solution to her problem? She petitions the judge to “get justice for me from my adversary” (Lk. 18.3). And she petitions regularly. And without fail.
What is the wicked judge’s response? I will do it. Lest by your continual pleading you “weary me” (Lk. 18.5).
At the close of the story Jesus says: “Hear what the unjust judge said” (Lk. 18.6).
He then adds: God will do what God will do, and it is wise for you to petition Him regularly and without fail to receive the Holy Spirit, and to bring yours, and others’ needs before His throne of grace (Lk. 11.13).
But then He adds: When I return, will I “really find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18.8).
Jesus wants us to be faithful in prayer. Consistently, persuasively, and annoyingly. Our constant prayers do not weary God, but our sin does. He said, “You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; but you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities” (Is. 43.24).
“What is desired in a man is kindness…” “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (Prov. 19.22; 20.6). Jesus hopes to find us faithful and kind.
When we are faithful in prayer, abundant blessings and promises are ours. Jesus gives assurance of His Presence now and a crown of life in the end. “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2.10).
Jesus knows that we have many things that need praying for and about. And He wants us to know that we should never be afraid to “weary” Him with them. He wants our faith to increase, and He wants to find us full of faith when He returns.
Sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His stories, and really hear what He has to say. Then pray.
1. How would you explain prayer to a new believer?
2. Why does prayer matter so much for us as followers of Christ?
3. Can you see any ways to bring prayers more in line with Jesus’ expectations?
All God’s people are praying people. Here earnest steadiness in prayer for spiritual mercies is taught. The widow’s earnestness prevailed even with the unjust judge: she might fear lest it should set him more against her; but our earnest prayer is pleasing to our God. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 18.1-8
Pray Psalm 55.16-23.
Ask the Lord to help you increase your time in prayer. Since we need mercy and grace for all our times of need, and all our time is time of need, prayer is the place to turn for God’s help.
Sing Psalm 55.16-23.
(Bread of Life: Break Thou the Bread of Life)
Lord, I will call on You, answer and save!
Noon, morning, evening too, my voice I raise.
Grant me Your peace, O Lord; answer my foes!
All who reject God’s Word He overthrows.
Many assail, O Lord, many betray.
See how they draw their sword across my way.
Take up my burden, Lord; strengthen and bless!
Let judgment by Your Word their souls distress.
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can download all the previous studies in our Luke series by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.