The Power of Faith and Persevering Prayer (Luke 18)

Scripture reading – Luke 18

We are continuing our chronological reading of the Gospels, but I remind you that the chapter breaks in the midst of the four Gospels will not be as exacting as the historical timeline that leads Jesus to His appointment with the Cross. That explanation is not meant to confuse you; but to remind you that the numbering of verses and chapters in your Bible have been added by translators and editors to assist students of the Scriptures in private study and public worship.

For example, today’s Scripture reading is Luke 18 and chronicles Christ’s oft repeated prophecy of His arrest, suffering, death, and resurrection (18:31-34). A parallel record of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, and the prophecy of His betrayal, suffering, death, and resurrection is recorded in Matthew 20:17-19.

Luke 18Luke 18 opens with a principle on prayer, followed by a parable that illustrates both the privilege, and power of persevering prayer.

The Duty of Prayer: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (18:1).

The word “ought” in this principle of prayer states, in essence, that perpetual, persistent prayer is an obligation, a necessity. Believers must always be in prayer, and “not to faint” (18:1b). The word “faint” implies discouragement, weariness, and fatigue.

In principle and practice, believers are to persevere in prayer, and never grow discouraged or lose heart, because God hears and answers prayer in His time!

The Parable: A Widow’s Appeal to a Heartless Judge (18:2-5)

Jesus followed His exhortation to always pray, and not lose heart, with an illustration of a widow who petitioned a heartless judge who is described as neither fearing God or revering man (18:2).

Widows in first century Israel relied on numerous sanctions for their care above those of other nations; yet, were often dependent on charity, or the benevolence of family who might neglect the command, “Honor thy father and mother” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).

The judge in Christ’s parable, because he did not fear God’s judgment (18:2), had little concern for his petitioners, and even less for fairness or justice. Though tasked with a charge to dole out justice, such a judge would often be calloused, and spurious in matters of the law.

While the identity of the widow’s “adversary” is not revealed (18:3), her perseverance in demanding of the judge her right to justice, was finally heeded when he succumbed to her unending appeals (18:4a). Though admitting he was unmoved by a fear of God or man (18:4b), he nevertheless succumbed to the widow’s demand, reasoning:

Luke 18:55Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

The Application (18:6-8)

If a heartless, unjust, and wicked judge can be moved to justice and action by a poor widow’s appeal for relief from an adversary, imagine how much the heart of a loving God is moved by the persistent petitions of His people (18:7-8a).

We have this promise: God hears the prayers of His people (“His own elect” – 18:7a), and He will, in His season, exact revenge against their enemies.

Believer, trust the LORD, and cry out to Him day and night. In due season, if we do not “faint” and grow weary, the LORD will exact justice, and it will fall upon our adversaries “speedily,” and without warning (18:8a).

Will you accept by faith, that God is patient, longsuffering, and just? (18:8b)

There are times I cry out to the LORD for relief from trials, troubles, and yes, adversaries. I have faced men who desire to harm my testimony, and destroy my ministry. At such times, I am reminded that vengeance belongs to the LORD (Romans 12:19) and my role is to pray and trust God will exact justice in His time.

Friend, there are some matters that will not be set right, and some enemies who will not be silenced, until Jesus Christ sits as Judge at His Second Coming (18:8b).

Are we willing, like the widow, to persistently pray? If a godless judge will heed the continual cry of a poor widow, surely God will hear our prayers and exact justice in His time!

Challenge: Heed the Widow’s Example, Don’t Lose Faith!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith