Sunday – May 19, 2019
Word On Worship – Sunday – May 19, 2019
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart…”
One of the most difficult aspects of prayer is persevering when it seems that God is not answering. Jesus instructed us to pray that the Father’s kingdom would come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And yet here we are, almost 2,000 years later, and that prayer, prayed millions of times by millions of Christians down through the centuries, is still not answered. On a personal level, all of us have requests that we have brought before God for years—requests that would be to His glory to answer—and yet it seems like God isn’t answering His phone! In light of these problems, it is easy to lose hope and even to give up praying.
The Lord Jesus knew the weakness of our flesh and that we all are prone to lose heart. In light of that, He graciously gave His disciples and us this parable “to show that at all times they [and we] ought to pray and not lose heart.” This instruction fits in with the preceding context where the Lord told the disciples that the days would come when they would long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but they would not see it (17:22).
There are two very fundamental elements which need to be found in our prayers. The first is persistence based upon the character of God. The second is penitence based upon the lack of our character. The two passages on prayer must go together because there must be a balance in the way we approach God. On the one hand, we can pray with persistence for the coming kingdom of God and for the establishment of justice on the earth, knowing that the character of God assures us that He will come, that He does hear and answer our prayers, and that He will quickly bring about justice.
On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that when we come to God in prayer we must also come with an awareness of our own fallen character. While we pray for justice, we also pray for mercy, for we are totally unworthy of anything but divine wrath. I suspect that a self-righteous Pharisee could have said “Amen” with their persistent prayers for the coming of the kingdom. But the kingdom they sought was a totally different kind of kingdom, which in their minds, they deserved. It was a kingdom which God brought to the earth as an obligation based on their full obedience to the law. May God give us the humility, the penitence, the prayer life, and the grace that He gave this tax-collector. And may God deliver us from the pride and self-righteousness of the Pharisee and may God bring about justice and mercy, for His sake.