Ephesians 4:4-6, One Spirit, encouragement to continually pray.
length: 67:48 - taught on Oct, 28 2020
Christ instructed His disciples, and so us, to keep on praying, even for the same thing. Not because the Father forgets or needs pestering, but so that we will not lose heart.
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. 3 "And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' 4 "And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.' " 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 "I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
The conundrum is the same here as it is for other questions about prayer: sovereignty and omniscience vs. the free-will of God’s creatures in time.
In this case it seems that God has to be bothered enough to move on your behalf. Notice, Luke informs us that this was about being shown that we ought to pray at all times, and while doing so for the rest of our lives, to not lose heart.
Not lose heart means that the timing of God’s answers will not meet our own.
As we keep asking, when the fulfillment of the request comes, we know it was from Him alone. If we ask once, see no result, and then set off to make things work in our own efforts, then when any results come, we might easily give ourselves credit. God doesn’t need to be pestered or reminded, but our faith is feeble and weak, and it needs to be cared for, and this is one way in which it is. “I see you haven’t acted yet Lord, but I pray for Your deliverance again, for only You are able to deliver righteously.”
So much of what we pray for is not fulfilled in one particular event at one point in time, but in stages as God brings many things together to construct one fulfillment. If, for instance, I pray for a straying believer, or for myself who is straying, many things might need to happen that will give the straying sheep eyes to see that they are on the wrong path, wisdom to understand how dangerous that path is, courage to turn around and go back, humility to go through the returning process, patience in allowing for God to heal the damage that was done to himself and to others, and rest in recovering a sound mind. And still, that is an overview. There are perhaps many thousands of circumstances, events, and happenings that God orchestrated. The straying sheep that had zero active virtue in his soul had to learn again wisdom, courage, humility, patience, and rest; and that just name a few.
We keep asking, even for the same thing, as God works it to completion in His time, thus we never lose sight of Him who is working.
Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on three different occasions, asking for the same thing.
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt." 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done." 43 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the disciples, and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 "Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"
Be alert and praying, Jesus said, that you may not enter temptation. And why did they not heed this command? The flesh was weak. The flesh becomes weak when faith becomes weak and ignorance strong. In ignorance, Peter, James, and John didn’t see the coming danger that Jesus had been preparing for His whole life. They fainted in prayer, being put to sleep by ignorantly thinking their lives were part of a normal world. The enemy, the enemy of all that is good was a short distance away and quickly approaching.
Because Jesus was alert and praying, even the same thing, He was ready for the enemy while the disciples were completely unprepared.
Remember that the next time you find yourself in a situation where your decisions, words, and actions have real consequence.
There is always temptation to faint in prayer, to lack a fervent prayer life, because the things we ask for, the legitimate things, are almost always based upon mature growth, and that takes time.
Because it takes time, we are tempted to think God doesn’t listen or care, or that it has already been decreed, so there is no point in praying anyway.