Persistent Prayer: The Key to Surviving the Not Yet

Persistent Prayer: The Key to Surviving the Not Yet: 2016 Gospel of Luke #69

Exposition of LukeThis is an exposition of Luke 18:1-8. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, August 13, 2017

Intro:

Do you find prayer easy? Does it come naturally to you so that you do not struggle with prayer rather you regularly, faithfully and with great boldness plead your cause before the Father? If you said, “Yes,” do you lie about other things too? It’s hard enough to pray at all, let alone to keep on praying until you get an answer. There are reasons for why we struggle (and honestly none of them are good). There is physical weakness, ever fall asleep while you’re praying? There is laziness or lack of discipline, we simple do not make time to pray. Indifference, we are callous towards the needs of others and our world. There is lack of faith in the promises of God, we just are not sure He will do as He says. Of course there is just outright rebellion. We know we ought to pray we just don’t! Then, sometimes we stop praying because we lose heart. God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He ought to. We pray for the sick and they are not healed. We pray that God will provide but we are still out of work. We pray for someone’s salvation and them seem to be moving further away from the Lord. Whatever the reason we struggle to pray because things are not as they should be. Life is not to our liking. It’s too painful, too chaotic, or we just can’t deal with the uncertainty of it all.

Our world is broken. It is not the world as God created it. It is a world corrupted by sin and distorted by the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. A world where a gunman opens fire following a prayer meeting. A world were gang violence is not just a problem on the Coast. Scandal and corruption are common place. Terrorist’s threats abound around the world. Meanwhile our faith is attacked here at home. The Christian worldview is fast becoming the minority opinion. Once the dominant worldview we are becoming the Kook fringe! Sure, as a believer, I can set back and declare with confidence “I know who holds the future!” “I am resting in the strong arm of my Savior.” Then I lay my head down on my pillow at night and my mind is flooded with anxious thoughts about tomorrow because being a child of God does not make me immune from the cares and worries of this fallen world. How are we supposed to live?

The Kingdom of God is here! It has been here since the Lord Jesus died on Calvary and rose triumphantly from the dead. The Kingdom of God is a present, spiritual reality. So why are we in this mess? Because while the Kingdom is a present reality, we are living in the “not yet” before the ultimate fulfillment of that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the people of God in the place of God under the rule of God. As believers who place our faith and trust in Christ and live under the lordship of Christ we experience the peace and blessing of the Kingdom but not everything is in obedience to the Kingdom. That awaits the return of the great King. Yes, every knee will bow in heaven and in earth and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord – when He comes. In the mean time we live in the tension between the now and the not yet. So how are we to live in the mean time? What “gets us through” these difficult days? That is the focus of our text this morning found in Luke Luke 18.

Text: Luke 18:1-8

Jesus is moving steadfastly toward the cross.
The time determined by the Father has come.
Halfway through Luke 19, Luke begins his narrative of the Passion Week.
In the last half of Luke 17 is Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom.
I’m convinced that the opening words of Luke 18 are best understood in that light.

(Read the text.)

The message of Luke to his friend Theophilus and to us is clear:

Thesis: Living in the “not yet” of the kingdom demands a life of consistent, persevering prayer.

The reason I’m so confident about that interpretation is that it is precisely what we are told in Luke 18:1! I didn’t go to four years of college and three years of seminary for nothing you know! The key for unlocking this parable is in the lock.

“Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Let’s take a look at the parable itself.
First the characters.
We are introduced to two characters:

  1. A corrupt judge
  2. A wronged widow

Our Lord’s Interpretation.
Now Jesus makes the application and here is where so many interpreters miss the point. Look carefully at Luke 18:6 through 8.

Listen to it in the NLT

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?” (Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.)

This is a parable of contrast!
God is not an evil judge!

We are not defenseless, helpless widows – we are beloved sons and daughters, joint heirs with Christ – that is the focus of this parable.

There are two things I want us to note quickly in light of this passage.

  1. Our confidence in prayer rests on the beauty of God’s character.
  2. Our persistence in prayer rests securely on the strength of God’s character.

Why do we keep coming to him in prayer?
Because this loving, caring, gracious God has power sufficient to meet our every need.

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