Unlike the Luke Gospel chapter 11 that opened with a special request from the disciples to Jesus to teach them how to pray, Luke 18 opened with Jesus initiating this discussion that bothers on a vital ingredient for a successful prayer life. We will read the text and learn one or two lessons on the subject of prayer.
Like I submitted before the book of Luke more than any other of the remaining gospels highlighted and dwell on Jesus prayer life, how he demonstrated and taught prayer.
"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward, he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cries day and night unto him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:1-8 KJV
The master spoke another parable, which unlike most other parables before, the intent for speaking this parable was defined and declared from the onset. The purpose is to make all men see the need for a consistent and persistent prayer lifestyle!
In the first lecture on prayers in Luke 11 Jesus dwelled more on the contents of our prayer: what are the things to pray and so specifically in that chapter, he began to outline the model contents of what the believer's prayer should constitute. However in Luke 18, the master was harping on the practice of prayer - it has to be consistent and persistent!
PRAYING OR FAINTING?
The first few words of the master are instructive enough, "men ought always to pray and not to faint'. There are few things to deduct from here.
1) We are always supposed to be in a prayer mode and mood! Jesus does not mean that we should always have our knees bent and eyes closed in prayer, but we must always be in the spirit of prayer. Many law enforcement officers always carry a gun with them, even when off duty. There is a sense in which they are never "off duty," but always have a weapon nearby. We are to keep our weapon of prayer always near, knowing that we are never "off duty" as believers!
2) If we are not praying then we are fainting! The master in a manner of speaking must have been referring to the content of Isaiah 40:29-31
"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint"
Isaiah 40:29-31 KJV
In other words, those who do not wait are those who faint. Those who faint are those who lack strength! Proverbs 24:10 tells us, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small". Summarily prayer is the source of the believer strength, strength to withstand in the days of adversity, strength to accomplish God's plan and purpose for our lives! Without praying we would be fainting. It comes as no surprise then that when Jesus was facing his last hours on the earth he faced it with supernatural strength garnered from praying in the garden of Gethsemane!
Without praying always we are susceptible to fainting always!
These words from the master are enough to shake off any spiritual lethargy from our lives! This is the end of the parable before it even begins. And then Jesus went on from here to give full details of the parable! And there are a few things to learn from here.
PERSISTENT PRAYERS WEARS OFF OPPOSITION
From the story in the parable, the wicked judge had no interest in granting the woman's request. The reason for this can be adjudged from the same passage. This judge was a man who has no regard for men or God! Hence he was unbothered by the lonely cry of this woman and would rather see her suffer. However, the persistent cry of this woman wearied the wicked judge and the woman had her justice eventually! This highlights the power of spiritual persistence in breaking down oppositions!
Daniel story comes to mind from Daniel 10, the Bible records in verses 12-13 the ordeal of Daniel
"Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia"
The answer to Daniel's petition was released from the first day, but there was opposition from the prince of Persian, but thankfully Daniel stayed on the place of prayers for twenty-one days and that in no small measure contributed to the spiritual barrier blocking the release of Daniel's answer been removed!
For the woman in the story, it was the wicked judge, for Daniel it was the prince of Persian. However, both Daniel and the woman will remain persistent in their prayers and that led to their breakthrough!
To breakthrough sometimes we need to stay put!
Jesus used the wicked judge to highlight to us God's character of compassion and love. And so the master said,
"And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cries day and night unto him, though He bears long with them?"
In other words, if a wicked judge can bow to the pressure and power of persistence how much more our loving father respond to his children who cried to him night and day! This is how we must approach God, we must know that he is and he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him! For every good and perfect gift comes from him in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning! This is the God we serve.
THE POSSIBILITY OF DELAY
And these words came directly from the mouth of Jesus: "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cries day and night unto him, though He bears long with them?"
Jesus said there are possibilities of delay occurring when we ask from God. He said God will answer 'though he bears long with them'. That's a direct word from our Lord and so when I search through scriptures I discovered there are two types of delay or reasons for the delay
1) The first reason for the delay in answers to prayer is when there is a spiritual blockade to answered prayers! This happens when Satan tries to frustrate what God has already decided! This was what happened with Daniel's case, prayer was already released but Satan withstood Daniel for 21 days.
2)When both we and our blessings have not matured enough to receive each other. This was what James was speaking to us about in James 1:2-4, we will consider the message translation.
"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way". James 1:2-4 MSG
Under the pressure of waiting to receive our answers from God our faith life is forced into the open and then shows it's true colors. James advised us not to get out but should allow this pressure of waiting to make us well rounded and mature believers, fully developed and lacking in nothing!
DELAY AND SPEED?
And then we get to where the tension of this text as found in Luke 18:7-8. In verse 7 Jesus hinted at a delay and then went on to say in verses 8 that God shall answer speedily! And that looks confusing to a casual reader, on one hand, Jesus said it may take long and then in the same breath answers speedily. Which one does God mean?
Well from the understanding of scripture, the two words, delay and speedily are the language of humans. God will serve is not bound by time! Delay and Speed are two languages of men who are conscious of time and bound by them. Our God isn't and that's why he does what pleases him and who can question him?
Zechariah and his wife waited for many years without any child until they gave birth to John! John was a child of old age! John had to be born about the time Jesus would be born and start his ministry! He was to be Jesus' forerunner! Hence God had to delay the birth of John for Zechariah and Elizabeth until about the time the fulfillment of the prophecy of the birth of Jesus will be to pass! Knowing this now can we now then say Zechariah blessings were delayed or was on time?
There is no delay with God, whatever he does is always on time! The only question is, and that is the question the master asked at the end of this parable, " will i find faith on the earth?". Persistent prayer is fuel by persistent faith! It is when our faith in consistent, persistent and fixed that we can muster the spiritual energy to go back to God in prayers on the same prayer request. It is this kind of faith that guarantees victory.