Ephesians 6:18; Depending on God alone and the reasons for persistence in prayer.
Tuesday July 26, 2022
We have before us and for the upcoming weeks, a doctrine, and every point of which, that can be immediately applied in each of our lives. I encourage you to apply what you learn right away, if you are not already. If we do not apply it now, while we are learning about prayer, after we are done it will soon be forgotten. But, if we have instilled the principles taught in the Scripture into our everyday lives, we will not forget, but continually live in it.
Prayer is complete dependence upon God for answers, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, guidance, power. Self-righteousness is dependence on self.
All who have been attempting to have powerful prayer lives should understand why Paul and Jesus would entreat us to be persistent in prayer and also to never trust in our own understanding or ability.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
It takes perseverance to take the time to pray. It is vital to do so, for without knowing the power of prayer through consistency, we will not come to love and desire our alone time with God the Father in the Spirit and in the name of the Son.
Prayer is like truth, righteousness, witnessing, fighting the good fight, resisting, etc. (practices of the armor) – we will fully know by doing.
Paul uses the same word in the sister epistle to Ephesians.
Devote [proskartereo – persist, persevere] yourselves to prayer
The apostles at the beginning of the church:
“But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
The use of this word for prayer echoes our Lord’s teaching of ask, seek, and knock; which was His way of emphasizing perseverance rather than giving three different ways of discovery. In Luk 11, His teaching on ask, seek, and knock comes directly after He teaches the disciples how to pray.
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?"
Nag God the Father?
A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
This is a parable. God is not pausing in His response to us until we wear Him out, as if we could. Jesus is taking a real-world principle (people get worn out by the persistence of others), from the fallen world in fact, to visually teach us to persist in prayer. The judge could not represent God the Father, for he does not respect God.
We should also note that the widow is not petitioning for anything unjust or wrong. She is not asking for revenge, but for justice. She is asking for what is legitimate and right. This is the other reason that the judge does not fear God. First, we must not mistake him with God the Father, Judge of all; second, a just judge would have heard and administered justice immediately, making the parable nonsensical to the theme.
And by using our brains a little, we would conclude, “Hold on. God the Father is just. Why should we persist with Him in our petitions?”
The reason for the parable is told to us – we are to persist in prayer and not get weary in doing so.
Most parables do not open with its theme stated. We are fortunate to have them in this parable and the next so that we cannot misinterpret it. The context (Luk 17:22 ff.) is that there will be a lot of deception and difficulty leading up to the Lord’s return (second coming). The application to the disciples is that they must live without His physical presence and therefore they must be sure of His presence in the way that the Father has planned to give it to them and the church. The invisible presence of the Lord will be experienced spiritually (ignore the hyper-spiritual nonsense proclaimed about this) by believers who humble themselves before the plan of the Father, wear the armor of God, stand firm against the schemes of the devil, remain strong, walk in a manner worthy of their calling, live in obedience – and do all of this with the constant presence of the attack and temptations from the sin nature within and the temptations and tests and schemes from without. In light of this, we can see why we must persist in prayer.
Persist in prayer continually: to worship God’s holiness and faithfulness, intercede for others, gain the things of maturity for self.
We are further told that we are to heed this parable so that we will persist and not get weary or grow faint. The parable staves off our weariness because we know that we are going to get out answers – our persistence is going to pay off.
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.
Some think the phrases “will He delay long,” and “speedily” mean that we don’t have to repeat ourselves in prayer, but they seem to ignore a few obvious things. First, Jesus doesn’t clearly tell us “not” to be like the widow, but told us to focus on what the judge said: I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out. Second, the phrase “day and night” means repeating and persistence. Third, Jesus Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane prays the same thing three times over the span of an hour or so. All things seem to point to our persistence like the widow. Again, it is a parable. We are not the widow. She is only an illustration.
As in all instruction, persistence in prayer is for our benefit.
God doesn’t need reminders. He is not reluctant and so needs to be goaded. Repeated prayer is for our benefit.
So often, what we need is a change of attitude or a different perspective, or a greater faith. Seeing things differently means learning lessons or adhering to truths that we haven’t before. I wonder how many times in my own life that God sent those truths or lessons to me and I didn’t see them or notice them. God’s answers do not always come in the form that we expected or hoped they would. They came through a sermon that wasn’t entitled “Joe’s problem,” or a reading or an event or maybe even thoughts projected right to me from Him, and for whatever reason, I missed them. That’s one example of a need for consistent and persistent prayer. I imagine that if we all brainstormed, we would come up with many reasons.
The context helps us again.
And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6 And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea'; and it would obey you.
Then He tells them a parable about a slave doing what he ought to do. We are to do just as the slave, what we are called to do, and if we do, still know that we are unworthy slaves, which, when the Lord Jesus Christ is your Master, is the greatest thing to be ever. And, even in that position, there is the danger of becoming arrogant since there are so many slaves who are not doing what they should. Therefore, the Lord tells us:
"So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"
We need to be praying for ourselves and others to see:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know …
We don’t have to wonder why we should pray again and again for the same things, the same people, for ourselves, when at the least we realize that we are in constant need of changing, growing, adapting, learning, and that we can so easily miss the answers. We need to do what the good slave should do and trust our Father for the outcomes.
All dispensations have their difficulty. The age of the church is the age just after the victory of Christ, which has caused the enemy to change tactics and perhaps feel the need of greater urgency to attempt to destroy truth and the people who have it or want it.
In an age of deception and testing and difficulty, prayer is the very essence of life.
We either pray or we faint (grow weary).
He ends with:
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Jesus is referring to His prior mention of His second coming. Will He find faith? The question is left open. We know from prophesy that He will in some and not in others. Then He speaks another parable and this question of faith links the two parables.
Persistent prayer? – faith – trust in self?
Will we be those who continually pray to our Father in faith for the purpose of living worthy of our calling and helping others to do the same or will we be so-called worshippers of God who come to the Father for the purpose of confirming their greatness and how grateful God should be to them that God has them on His side?
The next parable is for the self-righteous and how they pray.
And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted."
He who humbles himself (before God; fear God) will be exalted.