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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

The Limits of Prayer

No limits, to be concise. Luke 18.24-34

Luke 18 (5)

Pray Psalm 22.23-25.
You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.

Sing Psalm 22.23-25.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord Is King)
All you who fear the Lord, now praise His holy Name!
You children of His glorious Word, declare His fame!
We stand in awe of our eternal God, and on His mercy call.

For He has not despised the anguish of our King,
Nor from Him hid His eyes, Who knew such suffering.
Let praise arise from all who love and serve the Ruler of the skies!

Read Luke 18.1-34; meditate on verses 24-34.


1. What did Jesus say about those who cling to their riches?

2. What did He promise those who sought the Kingdom above all else?

We want to continue looking at this text in the light of Jesus’ teaching about prayer. He said we must pray for the coming of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6.10) and seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God as the defining priority of our lives (Matt. 6.33). Here He warns that anyone who clings so tightly to “riches” of any kind will have difficulty realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God (vv. 24, 25).

Those who heard him were amazed. This overturned all they’d ever understood about what wealth signifies. If the rich can’t be saved – who seem to have known so much of God’s favor in this life – then who can? (v. 26). Jesus’ answer parallels the one He gave the rich young ruler: Don’t look to men or anything they can do. God can do what seems impossible. He can save whom He will, whatever their status or circumstances (v. 27).

Peter (who else?), speaking on behalf of the disciples, wanted to know what was “in it” for them. They had “left all” to follow Jesus, just as He had instructed the ruler (v. 28). Jesus’ answer to this “prayer” must have seemed impossible: If you follow Him and seek the Kingdom, clinging only to Him, you will be many times over blessed with good things and will know eternal life in “the age to come” (vv. 29, 30). Impossible!

But read the book of Acts, and you’ll see how it was true.

And how was this possible? Only because of what Jesus told His disciples in verses 31-34. His death would make this happen. What? Impossible! They just couldn’t understand what He was talking about.

More “family” – “many times more” – and eternal life in the bargain through the death of the Good Teacher? Don’t let your prayers be limited by what you think you can do or might receive. Look to Jesus. Remember that with God all things are possible. Cling only to Him, then follow as He leads throughout the day.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Overriding the impossible has been the theme of Jesus’ life and mission since His appearance on earth. From His birth by a virgin to His rising from the dead and all the miracles in between—all of it pressed outside the norm and in human terms, seemed impossible.

As the angel told Mary, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk. 1.37). And indeed, nothing is.

This may have been the same angel that scolded Abraham’s and Sarah’s unbelief that she would bear a child at the age of ninety (Gen. 17.17), and said to them, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18.14). Nothing, not even an old woman giving birth, was too hard for God.

And as Jeremiah prayed, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You” (Jer. 32.17). Nothing is too hard for the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

Paul also claimed, and lived in, the realm of the impossible, and said of himself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4.13). He believed it, he lived it, and he was thankful for the opportunities of the impossible: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” because His grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor. 12.9, 10).

We live in that same realm of the impossible being possible, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Don’t let your prayers be limited by what you think you can do or might receive. Look to Jesus. Remember that with God all things are possible.”

Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God;
Nothing is impossible when you’re trusting in His Word.
Hearken to the voice of God to thee: “Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Then put your trust in God alone and rest upon His Word;
For everything, Oh everything, Yes, everything is possible with God.
(Eugene Clark, 1966)

For reflection
1. For what “impossible” things would you like to ask the Lord in prayer? Start asking today!

2. Jesus calls us to follow Him in His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12). What differences should that calling make in our lives?

3. How have you seen Jesus “overriding the impossible” in your own life?

The disciples’ prejudices were so strong, that they would not understand these things literally. They were so intent upon the prophecies which spake of Christ’s glory, that they overlooked those which spake of his sufferings. People run into mistakes, because they read their Bibles by halves, and are only for the smooth things. We are as backward to learn the proper lessons from the sufferings, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, as the disciples were to what he told them as to those events; and for the same reason; self-love, and a desire of worldly objects, close our understandings. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 18.31-34

Pray Psalm 22.26-28.
Seeing the coming of the Kingdom as He was dying on the cross was the joy that was set before Jesus (Heb. 12.1-3). To everyone else, Jesus’ death was the end. But He knew it was just the beginning. Thank and praise the Lord for His perseverance through suffering to realize the impossible vision of the coming of God’s Kingdom.

Sing Psalm 22.26-28.
(Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord Is King)
Then all the poor shall eat and praise with us the Lord.
Forever we His praise repeat and trust His Word.
Praise God above, all you who keep His vows and who His mercies love!

All nations shall repent and hasten to the Lord.
All those to whom His truth is sent shall praise His Word.
The Lord is King! His sovereign rule on high now we His people sing!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the 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 by
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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