Who in their right mind would call God an unjust judge or describe him as someone who is unresponsive to the needs of his friend? Well, Jesus did!
Jesus used parables, which are simple stories that enable us to grasp spiritual truth, to teach us about a variety of topics including stewardship, forgiveness, the Kingdom of God, and more. In his parables, Jesus wanted to communicate God’s truth in terms that we mortals could understand. Can you imagine the challenge of that task? Imagine if you were to travel back in time just 150 years and try to describe life in 2015 to someone living in 1865! Now imagine communicating eternal truths to people confined by time and space. Yet Jesus did that perfectly, through the use of parables.
The gospels record 36 different parables that Jesus taught on various subjects. Of all the parables, he only taught two on the subject of prayer, and both parables teach the very same lesson – PERSEVERE! PERSIST! JUST DON’T QUIT PRAYING!
Remember, Jesus taught parables so that we could understand spiritual truth from our perspective. With that in mind, we can look at his two parables on prayer (Luke 11:5-8 and Luke 18:1-5) and can get a sense of how prayer can sometimes feel from our perspective. As I have looked at these two parables, I’ve discovered eight ways that we can feel that can either prevent us from giving ourselves to prayer, or cause us to lose heart and give up.
- I can’t get to God. In Luke 11:7 the man in the house (representing God) had the door closed and spoke with the friend through the door. The two never had a face-to-face conversation in the parable but spoke through the barrier of the house. Many Christians feel like they don’t qualify to have God hear their prayers. They feel like they are not good enough or that they have not “performed” to the standard that God desires, and, therefore, they can’t get to God. Remember that we are invited to approach the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), not the “throne of performance.” God wants you to approach him in Christ Jesus, just as you are.
- God doesn’t want to be bothered with my needs. In Luke 11:7 the man in the house responded to his friend “Do not bother me.” How many of us have at times felt that God has so many big and important things to deal with that he doesn’t want to be bothered with our stuff? God is big enough to deal with all the issues of the world and deal with our very personal needs as well. God can deal with the “all” and still take care of the “small.”
- God has more important people to care for. In the parable in Luke 11, the man in the house has children that are in bed and it is a greater priority for him to care for them rather than care for the friend’s need. It is easy for us to feel like God plays favorites and that he is quicker to respond to the prayers of specific people as if he cares more for them than for us. Romans 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism. He cares for you and wants to hear from you as much as he does from anyone else.
- God does not seem to care. In Luke 18:2 the unjust judge is portrayed as one who “neither feared God nor respected man.” In other words, the man just did not care about anything or anyone but himself. 1 Peter 5:7 invites us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us.”
- God is unjust. Luke 18:6 describes the judge in the parable as unjust. The word literally means “a violator of the law.” In other words it may even appear that at times that God is acting in a way that is inconsistent with his Word. But God is just, consistent, and acts in integrity with all that he has said, even though we may need to wait at times to see his will manifested in reality.
- God does not hear me. The widow in Luke 18:3 needed to repeatedly come to the unjust judge to get a hearing. According to 1 John 5:14-15, God does hear.
- God will not respond to my request. In Luke 18:4 the unjust judge refused the request of the widow but Jesus repeatedly tells us that as we ask, seek, and knock, God responds. But it is critical that we do not give up.
- It’s too late, I give up. The widow must have felt that it was just too late to get justice from this unjust judge. It is never too late to ask for justice and redemption from the God that we serve.
Keep in mind, none of the eight lies listed above are true about God and his response to our prayers, but they do reflect how prayer can sometimes appear from our perspective. Just remember, of all the truths about prayer that Jesus could have taught us about prayer through parables, he chose one primary subject – Perseverance! Just Don’t Give Up! Perhaps it is just the encouragement you need today to continue to pursue Him to see His will fully accomplished.