Faith on the Earth
Faith on the Earth
Ever give up on a prayer? Ever become discouraged and stop praying about something because it seemed like nothing was happening? In Luke chapter 18 Jesus tells a parable that encourages us to keep on praying and rather than losing heart and giving up (Luke 18:1).
Keep on Praying
Jesus describes the elect as those who “cry to Him day and night” (Luke 18:7). Paul said, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18) and that as God’s people we ought to be “devoted to prayer” (Romans 12:12).
Not My Time Table
We need to remember that God often answers prayer on a different time table than our own. For example, it was later on in life that God granted to the parents of John the Baptist the child that they had been so long desiring (Luke 1:13). In Luke chapter 18 Jesus describes God as bringing about justice for the elect quickly, yet it may not seem quickly to us at the moment. The term quickly here means “with swiftness, with speed” (Vine, p. 241). Though God's justice may appear at times to be delayed from our limited viewpoint, we can be confident that when judgment does come, it will come like the flood or the destruction that befell Sodom and Gomorrah (1 Thess. 5:1-3).
God Desires Our Prayers
Even though God already knows what we need (Matthew 6:8) before we ask Him, He longs for our prayers. “The prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15:8). In fact, God views or describes our prayers as sweet incense that has a delightful aroma to Him. “When He had taken the book the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8). Observe that these bowls are said to be full, which means that God’s people of the time had been praying frequently. In Luke 18:7 Jesus says, “Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” This suggests that God never becomes impatient with the cries of His people. God is never bothered by our requests (Heb. 4:16; 1 Peter 5:7). If there is any delay in justice being done, it is because God is giving us time to reach the sinner (2 Peter 3:9). God would rather have His and our enemies saved than destroyed. If our prayers are delayed it may be for the good of somebody else.
He is Protective
“Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, now how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:7-11). God loves us so much that He will never give us anything that will harm us. If ever happen to make a request to God that is naïve or short-sighted, God is protective and will not grant a request that could be our undoing.
Where that Prayer Ends
- “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
- “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
Our prayers come to the very throne of God Himself. Jesus out great mediator is at His right hand and has the Father’s upmost love and attention. Our prayers are not lost in some cosmic mail room or just one of many unread emails, rather they are so to speak on God’s desk and open before Him.
The Answer is On the Way
The quickness to which God is able to answer prayer is seen in the life of Daniel. Years after he had been taken captive as a young man (Daniel 1), Daniel had read various Old Testament Scriptures including the book of Jeremiah and had discovered that the captivity would last 70 years (Daniel 9:2). Daniel realizes that the period of captivity is now coming to a close and prays that God would restore His people to the land and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:19). Daniel is pleading that God would perform what He promised in past ages, and do so without delay. Now while Daniel was still engaged in prayer the angel Gabriel shows up (9:21). Gabriel informs Daniel that at the very beginning of Daniel’s prayer the command was issued in heaven to come to Daniel. Observe that the answer to Daniel’s prayer was on the way even before Daniel could finish his prayer. As a result godly people in the past prayed and then eagerly waited for an answer, “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch” (Psalm 5:3). When we pray there needs to be excitement and anticipation on our part. Pray and then watch what happens because God is going to act. Do not pray and then walk away or pray and forget. Pray and watch for the answer, be amazing at how God answers your prayer.
“Well, all we can do is pray”?
I think most of us have probably said or thought the above at one time or another, especially when faced with a situation that seems to beyond anything that we can do. Yet prayer is powerful, far more powerful than we realize. The section we have been reading on prayer in Luke 18 ends with a “however”. The term however “arrests the reader and makes him search for the contrast. It asks whether “in spite of the fact” that the gate of heaven is always open, that at any moment of need a Christian may seek God's help without any preliminary wait for an audience to be granted, and that man's need is so great and the hostility of the world so oppressive, will man yet seek the presence and help of God with enough frequency and perseverance that he will be able to prove faithful? The point of the question here is that although God is so patient and His answer to prayer so certain, yet man always tends to tire, to lose his appreciation, and to desert God” (The Life of Christ, R.C. Foster, p. 1002). 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Not just faith, but the type of faith described in this parable, faith that is unwavering and persistent. Notice that Jesus does not answer the question He posed. “Jesus leaves the answer to us and to all the elect that follow us” (Lenski, p. 898).
In Daniel chapter 10, Daniel has been mourning for three entire weeks. Then a heavenly messenger arrives, the other men with Daniel ran and left Daniel all alone (10:7). The messenger informed Daniel that he was viewed with high esteem in the spiritual realm (10:11). He informs Daniel that the prince of Persia (either the king of Persia or Satan) had been withstanding him for twenty-one days (10:13). The messenger says that no one stands firmly against the forces of evil except Michael your prince (10:21). This is not the only time in Scripture that Michael stands with God’s people against evil. He is the one who disputed with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 9), and it is Michael who opposed Satan in Revelation 12:7-9. The good news is that in every encounter Satan is beaten. There is an ongoing battle in the spiritual realm, yet the good news is that Michael is on our side, along with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Therefore, let us not relegate prayer to the last thing we do, but rather do the first thing we do.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017