And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
This is my favorite teaching on prayer in the Bible. It is so impeccably clear. Jesus taught this story so that the people would always pray and not give up. The central principle is simple: If people, who are unjust, will give things to those who keep nagging them just to get them off their back, how much more will God, who is just, give good gifts to his children who cry out to him day and night. God is quick to answer those He loves.
What have you been praying for? Does it seem like the answer is slow in coming? I remember when I started my graduate program at a particular seminary in the Midwest. It seemed like the logical thing to do. I loved to study. Then things changed: a career change, a change of location, a second child was born. Life got busier. I started over at a different seminary closer to my new location. I was given 7 years from the start of my first course to finish the program. That seemed like plenty of time when I started. Then our third child was born. And life got even busier. By the time I was ten years out from starting my original program, I was not sure that I was ever going to finish it. I kept taking extensions out to get my assignments in. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at some points. Then someone at our church had a dream that she shared with my wife, Beth. In the dream I was a doctor. Although I was not planning to be a medical doctor, I was working on my doctorate. It was God’s sign to me that I was supposed to keep forging ahead. It took about another two years to finish so that by the time I finished, it had taken twelve years. They were twelve long years.
Sometimes we just have to persevere through something. The same is true in prayer. Sometimes we just have to push on. At the end of the parable in Luke 18, Jesus concludes by saying, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” What does Jesus mean by this? After all, it has been about 2000 years when He said that He was coming soon (Revelation 22:7 and 12). Actually, He repeated himself so that He would be emphatic in making the point. But He hasn’t come back yet. He is wondering that by the time He comes back, whether He will still find people praying with faith for His return and accompanying justice. That’s a long shot. But He Promised. So it is with the things He promised us. Can we push through in prayer by faith when the going gets tough? When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Happy praying.
By Ralph Veenstra