Text: Luke 18:1-8
One of the attributes of God that makes Him so unique and different from man and other gods is His faithfulness. It is this attribute that makes God boldly declare in Isaiah 44:6-8 that there is no God apart from Him. God’s faithfulness puts Him in a class all by Himself. His faithfulness is unbeatable. His faithfulness is matchless. God is the only One that can never fail. He is the only One that you can rely on everything He says; He never adds a pinch of salt to what He says. When God promises you something, He isn’t exaggerating, joking or speaking figuratively. God is the only One that is completely and absolutely TRUSTWORTHY.
Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us that if there’s one thing about God we should know, it is that He is a faithful God. Understanding that God is faithful, will help you trust Him even when you can’t see His hand. Understanding the faithfulness of God will keep you praising and serving God even when you have been praying about something and you haven’t yet gotten the answer. Understanding God’s faithfulness will inspire you to remain faithful to a Faithful God. May God release fresh grace on us to be faithful to a God who never disappoints.
Today we want to look at God’s faithfulness to the persistent in prayer.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told a parable of a persistent widow. The simple message Jesus wanted to pass across through this parable is that if you don’t give up in the place of prayer, if you don’t relent, lose heart, get weary, if you can persist in the place of prayer, you will see the faithfulness of God. I pray that every one of us will see the faithfulness of God in those situations we have been praying about but are yet to see the answer.
There are two verses in this passage that can help us understand what it means to be persistent in prayer. If we look at verse 5 we see that a persistent person is one that doesn’t give up, a person who keeps coming to you over and over again to ask you for something against all odds, in the face of discouragement, even when nothing seems to be happening or a change appears to be an illusion. Verse 7 also makes us understand that persistence in prayer is not praying about something once or twice but continuously, steadfastly, repeatedly until you see a change.
GOD IS NOTHING LIKE THE UNJUST JUDGE
Even though Luke 18:7-8 links the unjust judge with God, we must know that our own Judge, the God of faithfulness without any form of injustice, is nothing like the unjust judge. The message behind this parable isn’t that God is like the unjust judge who wants to see you suffer before He answers you or blesses you. The message is that there are some situations in life that it is not the first time you pray about it that you will get an instant answer. It is good to be a person who is mighty in faith and the minute you pray, you get an instant answer, you move mountains. But the reality of our Christian walk is that not all prayers will be answered instantly. Many will require a great deal of persistence on our part.
The unjust judge had no regard for anyone. He didn’t care about anyone according to Luke 18:2. So when he delayed in answering the persistent widow, it wasn’t because he was out to achieve anything good. It was his uncaring attitude that made Him put her off. It was His uncaring attitude that made him indifferent to her plight. God on the other hand is a Just Judge who cares for those who approach Him for justice and help (1 Peter 5:7). So when the Just Judge does not answer you immediately, you can be sure that it is because He wants to achieve something good in your life. The unjust judge delayed because he didn’t care. When the Just Judge allows any form of delay, it is actually because He cares and is doing something bigger than what you can see, think or comprehend.
WHAT QUALIFIES AS PERSISTENT PRAYER?
A lot of Christians today believe they are persistent or have been persistent in the place of prayer. That’s why they make comments like “I’m tired, I’m discouraged, I’ve been praying since and nothing has happened; nothing has changed. Why should I even bother myself with prayer, why should I attend that prayer meeting when nothing has come out of all the prayer meetings I have attended”. But when we look at Luke 18:3, 5 and 7, we see that much of what we qualify as persistent praying actually isn’t persistent prayer. We give quality time to prayer this morning, the next morning we just mumble a few words to God and rush off to work. The following morning, it is only when we want to eat and bless our food that we utter a word of prayer. By weekend, we haven’t even said a word to God. Praying consistently, fervently and persistently every morning for most Christians is a big challenge, not to talk of praying consistently at night.
We have rated ourselves as being consistent and persistent in prayer, when in actual fact we really aren’t that persistent. The persistent widow kept coming to the judge without giving him any breathing space. Isaiah 62:1 says “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns”. Isaiah 62:6 goes on to say that “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth”. This brothers and sisters is PERSISTENT PRAYER. It is no break in transmission in your prayer life. In the morning you are asking, seeking and knocking at heaven’s gate. At night you are there again asking, seeking and knocking at heaven’s gate. Being persistent in prayer is about having a prayer voice that heaven is familiar with. A voice they keep on hearing, a voice they have heard repeatedly. Not a prayer voice that is heard once in a while, on problem days, or only when you come to church.
The persistent widow was wearing the unjust judge out with her constant appearance at his door. That was why he eventually granted her request (Luke 18:4-5). The unjust judge answered her because she was more or less like a pest in his sight. You can never wear God out with your constant praying. He wants to hear your prayer voice at all times, in all situations of life (Ephesians 6: 18, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Divine justice and vindication come to those who keep registering their voices and requests at heaven’s gate (Luke 18:6-7).
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BABBLING OR VAIN REPETITIONS AND PERSISTENT PRAYER?
Repeatedly the widow came to the judge saying the same thing – “Grant me justice against my adversary”. She said it the first time she came to the unjust judge, she said it the second time, again and again she kept on saying the same thing – “Grant me justice against my adversary”. The woman wasn’t babbling; she wasn’t into vain repetitions. The woman was being persistent. What’s the difference?
Babbling is being mechanical in prayer. It is prayer you offer without any real connection with your spirit man. True prayer springs from within, from deep inside you. Psalm 42:7 says “deep calls to deep”. Deep in your heart, you are connecting with God. It doesn’t matter that all you are saying is the same thing over and over again “O Lord, please grant me justice against my adversary”. But you are in tune with God, focused on God, connected to God as you pray. Prayers that don’t proceed from the heart, prayers that your mind isn’t really in what you are doing, prayers that your mouth is moving, you are going through all the motions of prayer, but your heart is very far away from God is babbling (Matthew 15:8).
When you utter words of prayer without even understanding the meaning of what you are saying, when you pray without seriousness, focus, purpose, sincerity and faith, you are babbling. Prayers for showmanship, prayers to impress an audience is babbling (Matthew 6:5).
IS ASKING FOR THE SAME THING CONTINUOUSLY OR REPEATEDLY NOT A LACK OF FAITH?
Some people argue that if I prayed about something today and I come back tomorrow to pray about the same thing, the following week I’m still praying the same thing, it means I didn’t believe that God heard me the first time. It means I don’t really have faith. Is this true?
If we look at Luke 18:8 we see that persistent prayer isn’t seen by God as a lack of faith. On the contrary it is a rare kind of faith, a faith that calls for a great deal of perseverance, a faith Jesus may not find in many believers when He returns. It requires more faith and tenacity to pray about an issue persistently than to pray about it just once. This is because in the process of trying to be persistent, doubts may set it, you may conclude that it’s probably not the will of God for you to have that thing and then give up and stop praying about it. Or like Sarah, you may take things into your hands by relying on human wisdom instead of divine wisdom to meet a need or solve and issue that has persisted (Genesis 16:1-2).
WHAT WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THE WIDOW’S PERSISTENCE?
People who are determined, tireless and persistent when they set out to do a thing or achieve a goal have something that propels them, something behind their unswerving and unwavering attitude. In the case of the widow, she wasn’t coming to the judge because she had a personal interest in him. It wasn’t because she had a lot of time on her hands being a widow with no husband and wifely duties to attend to that she could go repeatedly to the office of the unjust judge. I believe the request she kept making to the judge was the secret behind her persistence – the widow had an adversary. She understood that if she fell into the hands of her adversary, if judgment was given in favour of her adversary she would face a lot of oppression. If she left her adversary to have his way, he would finish her. And so she was relentless to see that her adversary didn’t prevail over her.
We have an adversary; the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). There’s an adversary out there who is always looking for ways to mount up accusations against you to hinder you and condemn you. We have an adversary who is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for whom to destroy (1 Peter 5:8). This should be the driving force behind our persistence. Knowing that if we relent in prayer, give up in prayer, are prayer-less, our adversary will finish us. But today, believers are sleeping and not praying. Instead of being focused, determined and resolute in prayer, they are allowing their adversary have a field day working all kinds of havoc in their ministries, businesses, marriages and homes.
The persistent widow didn’t relent because she had an adversary. Be like the persistent widow. Do not be fainthearted or afraid of your adversary, do not be terrified, go into hiding, or give way to panic because of your adversary. Instead, persistently request the Just Judge to take over your case and grant you justice against your adversary.
THE BENEFITS THE PERSISTENT IN PRAYER ENJOY
- God vindicates them and takes away their shame
Being persistent can actually bring some form of ridicule to you especially when the thing you are persistently working towards seems to be a dead end. When you have made repeated attempts to have or do something worthwhile without making any headway, you can become a laughing stock. As the widow kept coming to the unjust judge, she must have become a laughing stock in his office. I can imagine his secretary, P.A, and other staff making faces behind her when she arrives. They would have passed all kinds of snide comments when she approached them to ask if the judge is around. Even the security man at the high court would have known her as that woman with no future ambition that keeps coming to pester the judge. But the day the persistent widow got what she was looking for, she was the one that had the last laugh.
Hannah was another persistent woman that for a season endured a lot of shame and ridicule (1 Samuel 1:3, 7). But the day she got what she was looking for, it was those that had been mocking her that were the ones hiding their face in shame. May this be your portion in Jesus name. Those that have been laughing at you will soon start hiding their faces in shame.
Don’t allow the insults and ridicule of people make you relent. Keep praying, keep believing God and very soon people will see in your life the faithfulness of God to the persistent. The Just Judge will vindicate you and take away your shame.
- They end up much better people
Luke 18:3, 5 tells us that the widow kept coming before the unjust judge. Whatever situation or need keeps bringing you before the Just Judge will be used by God to transform your life. Remember the Just Judge is nothing like the unjust judge. The Just Judge has the ability to do what the Unjust Judge can never do. You can’t come before God and your life will remain the same. One encounter with God transformed Isaiah’s life. He was sanctified by the glory of God’s presence (Isaiah 6:1-7).
You may not get what you want the first, second, third or tenth time you come to the Just Judge, but each time you come before Him, something is happening on the inside of you. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16 says “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”. Outwardly it may appear like nothing is happening, outwardly you may not have the answer to your prayer, but something is happening on the inside of you anytime you pray, anytime you spend time with God. You are being purified and sanctified by His presence. The chaff in your life is being taken away. God is working on you. He is building character in you (Romans 5:3-4). He is making you a much better person who reflects His glory (Malachi 3:3).
Let’s always remember that God’s greatest joy over you and I is not our testimony of answered prayers for financial, career or marital breakthrough but that He can welcome us into His eternal glory. It is good to receive physical blessings and truly that’s all some people have going for them. It is however better to have the physical blessings and the right heart which is a broken, humble, sanctified heart that the Lord will never despise and reject.
- They don’t get premature blessings
At the age of 17, Joseph had a revelation that he had been called to a place of leadership. God revealed to Joseph that he would elevate Joseph to a position higher than his parents and brothers (Genesis 37:2-11). What do you think would have happened to Joseph if God put him in that leadership position at the age of 17? He wouldn’t have been mature enough to handle the challenges of leadership.
We can get a good understanding of what maturity is from 1 Corinthians 13:11. Maturity has nothing to do with age. Maturity is seen in the way a person talks and reasons. The way Joseph was talking at the age of 17, we see that he wasn’t mature enough for a leadership role. He didn’t know yet that it isn’t everything God tells you, everything He shows you that you tell people even those close to you. But when at the age of 30 (Genesis 41:46), he stepped into the leadership role he had been destined for, he was ripe and ready for the task.
A premature blessing is getting a blessing you are not mature enough to handle. Some ministers of God have suffered some big falls because they entered into a leadership role when they weren’t ripe and ready for the role (1 Timothy 3:1-6). Some marriages have been destroyed because the partners weren’t mature enough when they entered into the marriage.
You may think you need and deserve a particular blessing but are you mature enough to handle it? The time spent persistently praying about a need and issue even if it lasts for 5, 10, 15 years is never wasted. It isn’t just a long drag. God is getting you fit, ready and mature enough to receive and handle that blessing with care. When it comes, you will know in your heart that it was worth the wait. Whether the wait was caused by Satanic delay and obstruction (Daniel 10:12-13) or God allows the delay for reasons best known to Him , if you are a true child of God, at the end of the day, God will work it all out for your good (Romans 8:28).
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22). But a premature blessing, something you get very quickly which you aren’t equipped and ready to handle, may add sorrow to you; it may destroy you. May we not receive any premature blessing in Jesus name, amen!
IS PERSISTENCE A GUARANTEE THAT ALL MY PRAYERS WOULD BE ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE?
After much persistence, the unjust judge granted the widow her request. She got a big YES as an answer. But sometimes even after you have been so persistent, God will give you a very big NO as an answer. The fact that you pray persistently for something isn’t a guarantee that you will always get a YES from God.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul persisted in prayer. Three good times he cried to God to remove the thorn in his flesh. But each time he prayed, all he kept getting as answer was NO, NO, NO! But check Paul’s life. Did he feel God had disappointed him because he didn’t get a YES? If anything, he was thankful to God for not giving him a YES as an answer. He could still testify of the faithfulness of God. So sometimes, NO is a very good answer from God. It is God not allowing you to have or go where you will miss it and be destroyed.
The same thing happened to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Matthew 26:36-46, Jesus persisted in prayer. Three times he pleaded to God to take the cup of suffering, the crucifixion cup away from Him, but God’s answer despite Jesus’ persistence was a capital NO! Today, Jesus has no regrets whatsoever that God didn’t answer Him in the affirmative. The thing you will get and be full of joy today but have serious regrets later in the future about that same thing, may the Lord keep far away from you.
If you are persistent in prayer you may not get what you want when and how you want it, but you will definitely come to this conclusion about God and that is that He is FAITHFUL. Sometimes you ask, He gives you exactly what you are asking for. Sometimes you ask, He doesn’t give you what you are asking for, instead He gives you much more than what you are asking for. Sometimes you ask and He gives you what in your wildest dream you never imagined you could have. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! AMEN (Ephesians 3:20-21).