Praying With Hope
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
Show pictures of people and animals in prayer postures and make short comments.
Read Passage – Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
We often have difficulties with some of the ways God works and really sometimes God can be confusing to us. If you go back into chapter 17:20 where this passage begins it says:
“Once, having been asked by the Pharisee’s when the kingdom of God would come…” Lk. 17:20
There are some things that are just too hard to figure out why God let’s them happen.
Tragedies – Story in the news this week about a man who shot and killed a prowler and it turned out to be his son! He just couldn’t see who it was in the dark! Tragic.
Death – This week I was talking with a man who had a son born with a rare disease and didn’t live once he was born, died immediately. Heartbreaking.
Heaven – Notice in our passage the Pharisee’s are wondering about the kingdom of God and when it would come. Is that her on earth? Is that now? Exactly when is that?
Answers to Prayer – In our story today that is the issue; how and when does God answer prayer and what criteria is there for us to understand it?
It stories like those and many others that really lead many to a place of unbelief. Why would a good God allow things like that to happen? People say that if that is how God is, they choose not to believe. This story even tells us that at the end; verse 8:
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” vs. 8
It is so hard to have faith when things don’t seem to line up in a way we can understand and make sense of why they happen. Jesus even asks this question here. Will God find faith on earth when he returns? Some of the thing I mentioned earlier cause people to not trust in God. So they just don’t have or even want faith. Faith can be hard.
It Is Easy To Give Up
In our story it tells us one of our tendencies when it comes to these tough questions. That tendency is: It is easy to give up. Is says that right in the first verse:
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” vs. 1
It is so easy to give up and fall into unbelief when things are out of whack, don‘t make sense, are tragic and many times seem senseless, and when we are going through heartbreak and disillusionment. This story is talking about prayer. Prayer is our communication with God. Prayer in itself is pretty simple; we talk to God, he hears us, he talks back, sometimes we here him and sometimes we don’t; he answers our prayers. Wouldn’t it be great if it was that simple. Prayer is simple but the answers aren’t always that simple. Why didn’t God answer my prayer or why did He answer it that way, or maybe we feel left and that God never heard the prayer. All tough things to understand. Realize this though, being in relationship takes communication. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to be in relationship and not communicate. Our story today gives us some insight into how we should pray and what to expect and…what our relationship with God looks like. So, let’s look.
Praying With Hope
I called this, Praying With Hope. Hope is: to desire with expectation or to expect with confidence. Does that definition sound like your prayer life? Or does that definition sound like how you think about praying? Listen to how this story helps us to pray with hope.
- § Pray Even When Things Seem To Be Against You
First, we need to pray even when things seem to be against us. Verse 3:
“And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.” vs. 3
I believe that many times people pray in convenience because that is easy; or, they pray in desperation, when it is a last resort. This lady is coming to the judge because things are going against her. She comes back multiple times because she is not getting an answer. The story tells us she has an adversary, an enemy. Someone who doesn’t like her, who does care for her, and who would love to see her defeated. All she wants is a little justice. She is living with a bothersome situation that is not going away and probably is taking a lot of her effort, her mental state of mind, and is really getting her down.
Point: We all have enemies, people who don’t like us, are against us, etc. It could be a co-worker, a previous friend, it could be something non-human like money, etc.
She may seem desperate but she keeps coming back because she has hope that she will get some resolution. Here’s what God has for us; it’s the right way of putting our difficulties in perspective, Phil 4:6:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6
Let me put to you this way. Don’t worry, but of course that is easier said than done. So try this: Instead of worrying, let your prayers and petitions (the things you are asking for) shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. God wants to know your requests. He wants to know what is in your heart. And he wants you to take the things that are bothering you and zapping your energy and turn into prayer and more specifically, prayers of hope.
Ex. My prayer for Amber and her friend who diagnosed with a blood clot this week.
- God Is Working
You might ask what good that does. Well, you can give those things to God because, point two, God is working. Notice what happens in our story, verses 7-8:
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” vss. 7-8
The woman in our story feels ignored by the judged. We may get to the point of feeling ignored by God. But these verses tell us that God I working. He will see that justice happens. Now we want immediate justice.
Ex. We watch a TV crime shows where someone has been wronged and that person wants to take the action to avenge the wrong and the police always say, “Don’t take the law into your own hands. Let us do our job. We will get justice.”
God is telling us the same thing. He is working, He is working His plan and in His time. We just have a hard time waiting. But Jesus says in verse 8: “He will see that they get justice.” God will get justice because ultimately; “He is in control.” Romans 8:28:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:2
God is working and He is working for good; for a good outcome and for a good purpose. Proof of that comes when we look back on the things we’ve prayed about and see the answers.
Ex. Our prayer list and those who have recently found jobs after long periods of unemployment
- Trust There Are Answers On The Way
So when things are against us and we turn to God in prayer, when we trust and know that God is working, we can also pray with hope trusting there are answers on the way and that God’s answers are always the best answers. There is a few verses in here that might seem confusing but they actually give us a lot of hope. Verses 4-5:
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear
God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice…” vss. 4-5
When we read these verses we focus in the issue that the judge finally granted this woman’s request and it must be because she pestered him. Really, what we should focus on from this is that even a earthly judge wants justice. If that is true with an earthly judge, how much more with God. So we trust and know that answers are on the way but here is the kicker, it’s not always in our time and in our way. Isaiah 55:8:
““For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
We think we know best. We think we have answers and solutions. But God’s ways and thoughts aren’t our ways and thoughts. We sometimes pray so hard for something we don’t really need or that wouldn’t be good for us.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Prayer is request. The essence of a request, as distinct from a demand, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant them and sometimes refuse them…If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now?
Praying with hope is trusting God that if the answer is no, if the answer is wait, or if the answer comes and it’s not what we are expecting, His plan, His way, His solution is what is best because He is much smarter, and wiser that we are.
So let me wrap up by giving you something you can take with you. It’s called PUSH prayers. I got this from a Baptist pastor named David Dykes
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.“ Col. 4:6