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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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3 Incentives to Keep Praying
Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)

In a magazine cartoon there is a little fellow kneeling beside his bed for his bedtime prayer. He says with some measure of disgust, "Dear God, Uncle Jim still doesn’t have a job; Sis still doesn’t have a date for the social; Grandma is still feeling sick - and I’m tired of praying for this family and not getting results."

I am guessing we all have felt this way, at one time or another, in regard to our prayers.

Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men,
5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'"
6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.
7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

In this passage Jesus gives His disciples reasons to keep on praying. I see in this passage three incentives to keep on praying.

  1. In verse 1 we are told that Jesus gave this parable to show his disciples that they "should always pray and not give up."
  1. We need to recognize that delays are what Jesus told us to expect.
  1. Keep on praying because something is going to happen.
  1. Let me give you a simple illustration. Suppose one of the trustees came to change the light in one of the sanctuary’s light chandeliers.  Suppose somehow the ladder he was on fell but he managed to grab hold of the light fixture and not fall.
  1. In the same way, we need to keep on praying because we know that it is essential for success.
  1. By success, I mean success in accomplishing God’s purposes. We need to understand that we have no other options, no hope, no other recourse but to keep praying, no matter how long it takes to get an answer. That is our second incentive to keep on praying – success the answer is coming. 
  1. We need to get to a place like the patriarch Jacob in the Old Testament did, when he wrestled with God. When his hip was dislocated, he had no leg to stand on, no strength of his own, all his self-reliance was gone. It was then that he held on and wouldn’t let go of God until he got the blessing. In his weakness he knew that perseverance was essential for success.  
  1. Jesus emphasized this same point in a previous parable dealing with prayer. In the parable of the Friend at Midnight, in Luke 11:5-8, Jesus notes that the man needs bread to feed a friend who came at midnight. This detail emphasizes that the only option that this man had was to keep knocking and asking a neighbor for help, after all it wasn’t like he could go to the Go-Mart and purchase bread.
  1. If Miriam wants to go to the Mall – she keeps on asking me but one of her friends would not normally do that.  Why?  Because her friend is not my daughter.  Miriam has a special relationship with me which means I am more inclined to hear her request.  That is what encourages her to keep asking.
  1.  It is the same with you and me. When we realize how special we are to God, how much He loves and cares for us, and then we are motivated to keep on praying.
  1. God does care and can be expected to respond to our prayers, because of who He is and because of who we are by His grace. Keep on praying because you’re special to God.
  1. I don’t expect Him to listen and respond because I have great faith. I don’t expect Him to listen and respond because I have fasted or prayed for many hours.  I don’t expect to be heard because I’ve been exceptionally righteous.
  1. I expect God to hear and respond because He is a wonderful, caring God who loves me and sees me as special. I, like all Christians, am one of his chosen ones, so I just keep on praying.
  1. Keep on praying because you’re special to God. The Lord will not ignore his children who "cry out to him day and night." He may delay answering our prayers for a time, but he will not "keep putting us off."
  1. According to verse 8, God will see that his people get justice, i.e. their righteous request will be met. At this point, it should be noted that the widow’s request in the parable was for what was right, and that God will not honor our request if they come from wrong motives, no matter how much we may persevere or belief.
  1. The main point Jesus is making is that unlike the unjust judge, there is no reluctance on God’s part to answer our prayers.
  1. Jesus does not directly address that question, but I think the latter part of verse 8 gives us a clue! Jesus asked an interesting question here, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" 
  1. Persevering prayer and faith go hand in hand. The one is evidence of the other! When God delays answering our prayers, it is not because He is reluctant to bless his children, but I believe one reason He delays is to test and strengthen our faith, which is of more value to God than gold is to us!

Conclusion: If Jesus were to come this week, would He find faith in your life?
Would He find you persevering in prayer?
Or would He find that you had quit praying because you do not really believe?
My hope is that He would find us persisting in faith and believing in prayer. We certainly have every incentive to keep on praying.

1. Keep on praying because sometimes the answer to prayer will be delayed.

2. Keep on praying because perseverance in prayer is essential for success.

3. Keep on praying because you’re special to God.

FINALLY - The value of persistent prayer is not that He will hear us but that we will finally hear Him.  (William McGill)

Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.