How to Pray – Part 2

In Lent 24 by Bruce LogueLeave a Comment

“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.

Luke 18:1-8

Luke does not set the context for this teaching about prayer. I find it interesting that the teaching about prayer follows a Lukan note that Jesus was once asked about when the Kingdom of God was coming, Luke 17:20-21.

Then Luke begins this teaching in chapter 18 with a statement about why Jesus gave this teaching, namely that his disciples should “always pray and not lose heart.” Lose heart about what? About when the Kingdom would come to deliver them?

The parable Jesus tells is about a widow who petitioned a disrespectful judge about a matter of “justice against my opponent.” Being disrespectful, as he was, the judge rebuffed her petition. But later he relented because of the persistence of the widow, saying, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”

The key to the parable and to prayer is this. Jesus said that even an unjust judge relents in his injustice because of the relentless of the widow’s petition. Even more so, God is responsive to God’s children who cry to him day and night. In other words, if even the cruelest judge is persuaded by the persistence of a widow, how much more is God responsive to those God loves.

However, you have to be careful with this teaching. Is Jesus really saying that you have to nag God in order to get God to respond? That idea runs counter to what we know about God’s dealing with his followers. I think Jesus is saying that God is responsive, and God likes it when he sees commitment and passion in his people.

There is another idea in this prayer instruction, and that idea is that God pays attention to prayers that are Kingdom associated and informed. So, the answer to the prayer of Jesus’ teaching and the widow’s petition is for justice – a kingdom matter. Pray about the kingdom, and you have God’s attention. It should not be ignored that Jesus specifically instructed his disciples to pray for the Kingdom’s coming in the Sermon on the Mount.

John wrote that if we pray with Christ’s will in mind, he will answer us, 1 John 5:14. This is not to say that we should not pray about other matters. However, it does seem that special emphasis is given to matters that have kingdom significance. Like when the widow got the judge’s attention.

Something to think about: If you quantified all your prayers to God by giving a percentage to each of the matters you pray about, what percentage would you give to the amount of time you spend praying for the kingdom of God? For example, how much do you talk to God about health, family, things you want, work, and the Kingdom?

Something to pray about: Father, we know that Jesus asked us to pray about the Kingdom, yet we know we dwell on other things more often than we should. Please help us to think more about the matters of your kingdom than we do. May we have wisdom to understand its importance to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Leave a Comment