Praying with Perseverance (17 February 2019)

Morning Encounter:

Read:

Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:

In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.”

For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people, I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don’t help her, she will wear me out.”

The Lord said:

Think about what that crooked judge said. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?

(Luke 18: 1-8)

Reflect:

Jesus told this story to encourage his followers to pray faithfully. The point is made through contrasts rather than parallels. The first contrast is between the widow and the disciples. In Jesus’ historical context, a widow was one of the most vulnerable and poor members of society. A disciple of Jesus has the love and protection of God himself. The second contrast is between the crooked judge and the Father. The judge will only help because he becomes wearied by all the nagging. Our Father is attentive, generous, always concerned for us (18:7,8). The third contrast is between the court and the throne of grace. An ancient middle Eastern court was a tent where the judge sat surrounded by assistants. It was often the case that a person would need to pay a bribe to even get their case heard. Our prayers go direct to God.

As we all know, prayer is not a matter of putting in an order and waiting for delivery. God may well not give us what we are asking for, according to our specified timescales. But here Jesus gives us all the reason we need to keep praying anyway: we persevere in prayer because we are coming to an all-powerful and eternally loving father who hears the cries of our hearts and ultimately has it all in hand.

Respond:

Are there things you have been praying about for a very long time? Are you beginning to think of God as the crooked judge? Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to fill you with renewed faith, hope and trust.

Midday Meditation:

“One of the old cardinal virtues was fortitude, but where today do we find such courageous staying power?...Jesus, however, makes it foundational to real effectiveness in Intercessory Prayer.

Do you, do I exhibit this patient determination in our prayers for others? How easily we fall short! In the levitical legal code the fire on the altar was to be kept burning perpetually; it was never to go out (Lev 6:13). As God builds stamina and grit into our spirituality, we today must learn to build the eternal flame of prayer on the altar of devotion.”

(Richard Foster, Prayer)

Evening Reflection:

Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.

Don’t turn away God’s Spirit or ignore prophecies. Put everything to the test. Accept what is good and don’t have anything to do with evil.

I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this.

(I Thessalonians 5:16-24)

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