June 07, 2016

Persistent Praying

By: Anthony Mathenia Topics: Uncategorized Scripture: Luke 18:1-17, Isaiah 62

Persistent Praying (Luke 18:1-17; Isaiah 62)
Sermon Link

Praying Persistently (Luke 18:1-8)

Jesus is making an obvious connection between prayer and not being discouraged. He has just taught about the coming of the Kingdom and the danger of not being ready due to preoccupations with temporal things, and then in this parable he shows that to avoid being discouraged or losing heart, we should pray, until God answers. The judge in this parable is unjust, which is a total contradiction of his calling. Nonetheless, the widow persists and this wicked judge eventually rules rightly and grants her request. When we give up praying to God, we are making Him out to be less caring and more unjust then the wicked judge. The question is not whether or nog God, the judge of the all the earth, will do right, but whether or not we will be found faithful. God is not the variable that fluctuates in the equation, rather we are.

– If someone were to observe your prayer life, what would they assume about the character of God based on what they see? Why is it important to know the character of God in order to pray rightly?

Praying Pharisaically (Luke 18:9-14)

In the first parable, Jesus teaches us when to pray (i.e. always). In this next parable he teaches us how to pray (i.e. humbly and honestly). There are two different men in this parable praying two different prayers resulting in two very different outcomes. The Pharisee took his stand in prayer based on good deeds that he had done and the wrongs of others that he had avoided. He was a man with few vices and many virtues. His acts of devotion were not his problem. Instead, his downfall was that he was proud of them and trusted in them. He had no acknowledgement of guilt, no confession, no supplication for mercy, and no request for grace. In fact, he was so consumed with himself that he was actually “praying this to himself,” rather than a heartfelt prayer to God. On the other hand, the Publican took his stand at a distance, acknowledging the great gulf that his sins had caused and his utter spiritual bankruptcy before the Lord. He offered up real petition, humbly expressing his utter need for mercy. There are three parts to the publican’s prayer: (1) God, (2) the sinner, and (3) mercy. While the Pharisee went home unaccepted and unjustified, the publican went home accepted and justified. The difference between the two men was not that one was righteous and the other unrighteous, one good and the other bad, but the difference was that one was repentant and the other unrepentant.

– Would your praying look more like the Pharisee’s or the tax collector’s? In what ways? Are you prone to tell God about all of the good things that you have done, or do you recognize your entire dependence on the grace of Christ and de you sincerely plead for His mercy?

Permitting Children (Luke 18:15-17)

Children are completely dependent, full of trust, utterly sincere, and ready to receive gifts as they are, without adding other demands. In the same way, childlike faith (not childish faith) is the prerequisite for entering the kingdom. We must not question God’s dealings or refuse His offers, but willingly and freely accept His love and care. From this account, we should also gain a deep sense of the value of children’s souls.

Isaiah 62

When we compare the promises of God with the reality of our lives and the actual spiritual situation that we find ourselves living in, it should serve as incentive and motivation to give Him no rest until His will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. The prophet Isaiah resolved to not cease praying until God fulfilled HIs promises and the people of God become what God intends. God intends for HIs people to “have a double portion” and “shout for joy over their portion” and have “everlasting joy.” However, those things were not current realities for them, and instead they are “Forsaken” and “Desolate” (Isaiah 62:4). Isaiah is convinced that we should not give up praying until we’ve been heard and answered, that we should prevail in prayer until we see God’s promises become a reality in our day.

– Is your praying enough to convict you of truly being convinced of the promises of God? Are you boldly pleading with God persistently based on the certainty of His tremendous promises? What are some specific promises from Scripture that you can be using to pray confidently and urgently before God?