Luke chapter 18 continues with this whole theme of teaching through parables and closes out with Jesus foretelling of His death for a third time and healing a blind beggar. There is a lot to unpack in these 43 verses, and I encourage you to take time to dig deeper into all of it in your personal study today. But in the next few moments, I want to focus on the very first verse of the chapter, which is part of a portion of scripture captioned “The Parable of the Persistent Widow.”
As we have read through the gospels, I am sure we have all had moments where we have had to wrestle a bit with the meaning of it all, but Luke made it easy on us this time around because right there in verse one, he writes, “...He told them a parable to the effect that they ought to always pray and not lose heart.” Clearly, this passage of scripture is going to be about, not just a persistent widow, but a persistence in prayer. And today, I want to focus on two truths about prayer that we can pull from this verse.
First, it supposes that all God’s people are praying people. That they engage in both a constant and an occasional conversation with him. Meaning - they converse with him steadily, in the day to day, and in the emergency moments as they arise in their lives. I love how one bible commentator put it when he wrote “It is our privilege and honor that we MAY pray. It is our duty; we ought to pray. And we sin if we neglect it.” Does that view of prayer shift your thinking on its level of importance in your daily life? Prayer isn’t just something the Lord has given us as an optional lifeline to reach out for when we need it most. It is an open line of communication that it is necessary that we access at all times. Prayer isn’t a life preserver. It is life support!
Clearly, prayer is of great importance and we must make sure it remains a priority in our spiritual walk; however, just like anything else in life, we can easily grow weary in our prayers, which is the second truth we find there in verse 1, “pray and DO NOT LOSE HEART!”
Anyone who has prayed long and hard for God to move in a situation can attest to the fact that even those of us with seemingly unshakeable faith can grow tired of praying for that prodigal son or daughter, we can grow tired of praying for the Lord to deliver us from a difficult job situation as we wait for Him to open the next door, we can grow weary of praying for that salvation, that healing, that miracle in our marriage, finances, family, and home.
This propensity of ours to grow weary speaks to our humanness and not our lack of faith and is why the Lord is so intentional to set up these warning signs for us far before the weariness hits. We see this clearly in Galatians 6:9 which says...
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And that same sentiment is again echoed right here in Luke 18:1 when Luke writes “...and let us not lose heart.”
The word weary means - exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness. I love that weary is described as “exhausted in strength” because that tells me that the cure for my weariness does not lie in me and me alone. I don’t regain that strength or vigor by mustering up something in and of myself. No. That renewal of strength, endurance, and vigor can only come from the Lord. We know that from scripture.
Isaiah 41:10 God says “ “I” will strengthen you and help you…”
Isaiah 40:29 says “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
Isaiah 40:31 says “But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 says “...for Christs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
What does all of this tell us? That weariness, though not pleasant, tends to bring us to a place of full surrender. A place that says “God, I can’t keep doing this! I need you to take this burden from me. I need you to deliver me from this situation. I need you to carry the load.” And every time, Jesus, who has been patiently and graciously waiting for us to call on Him to help, comes in and strengthens us, encourages us, and helps us to continue pushing through - transforming us, over time, from the prayer weary to a prayer warrior.
As believers, this same weariness can set in as we wait for Jesus’ second coming. I am sure it is no secret to any of us that we live in a very broken and fallen world that is full of sin, pain, loss, difficulty, and tragedy and we, as believers, can, at times, grow weary of the journey as we hold on until the day that we get to spend eternity in Heaven. No more pain. No more sickness or disease. No more loss or neglect. It is the desire of our hearts and it is, ultimately, the prize we are all striving for. So why, if God could deliver us from this chaotic mess we are living in, doesn’t He just come and deliver us now!
It is in the times of frustration or weariness that the Lord always reminds me of His faithfulness to his people. From rescuing Noah and his family from the flood, to delivering His people from slavery in Eqypt, to many of the ways He has shown up ‘at just the right time’ in my own life. And the same is true for the second coming of Christ. We don’t need to worry about when, or where, or why. We simply need to remain, like the widow in Luke 18, a people of persistent prayer. Not giving in and not giving up. And when the weariness hits, finding strength and confidence in His power, in His strength, and in His timing.