Updated: Jun 15
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” (Luke 18:1-5 NASB)
One of my prayer journal entries from September 2017 popped into view this morning. It was right after the Las Vegas massacre. In the entry, I referenced the parable of the persistent widow (above) and advised myself not to lose heart. As James Watkins has said, “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” After telling the parable, Jesus adds,
“Will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He long delay over them?” (Luke 18:7 NASB)
This election season of 2020 has been testing my faith. Some are claiming the battle is cosmic—good versus evil. I actually agree with this, though not in the way they probably mean. Any earthly good from either party or candidate bears the tarnish of sin. Yet good and evil are very much in front of our eyes.
The apostle Paul faced constant perils from human enemies, but he made this curious statement,
[O]ur struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)
It’s in the context of the cosmic battleground that Paul directed us, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). I’m trying to keep this in mind.
During the debate on September 29, I paced continually, praying for God to show the true nature of the candidates. In my mind, in my distress—for I was distressed—I kept hearing “Trust Me.” How do I build trust in God? Faith comes from hearing. So what do I hear in Scripture?
Moses writes in Exodus, the words of the Lord: “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them…” (Exodus 3:7-8a NASB).
I confess I don’t like the time scale here. Israel was oppressed in Egypt for 400 years; I like to be delivered from evil in something well short of that. But people cried out and God delivered them, over and over again.
As with Israel, so in Jesus’ time. “Teach us to pray,” said the disciples. Jesus told them, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven… Deliver us from evil!” He expects action from these prayers—a kingdom comes, His will is done, deliverance happens.
Last week, as we hit the “40 days until the election” moment, that “40” went “ding!” in my brain. Like Jesus in the wilderness, I decided to begin a time of intense prayer for the 40 days until the election. My agenda is to pray as God leads, and I often begin with the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom, Thy will be done…”
It’s a curious thing, prayer. I’ve heard from more than one friend a version of: “Well, at least you’ll get something out of it.” They have a rueful smile and the look in their eyes says, “Friend, you may be tilting at windmills.”
But God is extravagant about prayer. Jesus said, “…truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20 NASB). I’ve never yet moved a mountain, that I’m aware of, and I can thereby prove that my faith is smaller than a mustard seed. So far.
The mandate to pray is there, with great potential. So onward! I have a plucky widow to follow.