Feb 17, 2019 | Lee Becknell

Our Behavior Affects Our Prayers

Luke 18:1-14

* A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am."
* After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, "That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys."


* Jesus tells two powerful parables about prayer.

 

Theme: “And when it comes to prayer, Jesus says we should follow the example of this unknown widow and tax collector. We need to be people of perseverance and humility.”

* In these parables Jesus actually tells us the purpose of the parables. 

* To show us that we should always pray and not give up.  King James translates, “…not to faint.” Verse 9, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt.”

* The disciples have already seen this behavior in our Savior Jesus Christ. 

* The struggle to pray. Everything conflicts with prayer. And when we do pray the next challenge is to continue in prayer.

* Pattern in prayer.  Regular, persistent.  Jesus knows that we will difficulty in our struggle to pray.

* In verse two the parable begins. We know enough by studying scripture to understand this is a Roman court and not Jewish.  In the Jewish community the argument would come before the Elders. Therefore, we can conclude this is a Roman court and you can just imagine how corrupt they were.

* This morning, I would like to share with you the following lessons.

  1. The importance of regular and persistent prayer.

Luke 18:1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

* Jesus’ use of a widow to make His point was obviously done for a reason. His choice of a widow was significant because a widow in those day most likely didn’t have the money to bribe a judge, she didn’t have a husband to speak up for her and didn’t have enough influence to pressure the judge to do what was right.

* She was in a helpless situation. She had no other alternatives but to keep asking the judge to help her. Persevering was not only essential to her success, but was essential to her survival.

* Original translation; “judge of injustice”.

* Notice that Civil judges don’t fear God or care about people.  Jesus use the widow because the Jewish community would understand the need to help such a powerless person.  She had only one weapon and she used it grandly.  She was persistent.

* Verse 4 and 5 tells us the Judge just wants to be free of her persistent call for justice. 

* “So she won’t give me a black eye…” So she won’t ware me out. 

* You can imagine how the disciple were listening intently.  Jesus will contrast the Judge of unrighteousness with a righteous and perfectly just. 

* God’s chosen ones will cry out to God day and night.  Like a baby cries for their mother.  Katie gets so upset when Ryan cries and runs to Lynn and not her!

* What we need concerning prayer in our individual lives and in the life of our church is action developed upon the information we already have.

* To encourage us, Jesus focused upon action concerning prayer. He used words that communicate the necessity of prayer. Jesus said, “…they should always pray and not give up” (verse 1).

* That verse could be translated “It is necessary for us to always pray and not faint.”

* Jesus was giving us emphasis not only to the duty of prayer, but to the necessity of it. We can also say that persistence in prayer pays off.

* The prescription here is to be tireless in prayer and not give in to the temptation to give up too soon. Listen to what the parable teaches us in the situation of the widow. The widow was experiencing injustice of some nature. he text indicates the widow kept bothering the judge to the point that she exhausted him.

* She was like the Energizer Bunny and the Timex watch which keep running and running and running. The judge saw her persistence and he granted her request because she was going to wear him out if he didn’t!

* We are not to tire out and give up! Persistence in your prayer life pays off.

* What are you tempted to give up on right now? Pray about it until something happens

* And when it comes to prayer, Jesus says we should follow their example.

* Now, Jesus is NOT comparing God to an unjust, uncaring judge … nor is He comparing us to nobodies. Rather, He is making a point by contrast. If a nobody can get a hard-hearted, uncaring, unjust judge to answer her requests through sheer determination and persistence, then how much more can we expect from God, who does care, who is just, and wants to respond to His beloved children’s persistent requests?

* We are special to God. Jesus referred to us as “God’s chosen” in verse 7. So you can expect an answer to your persistent prayer even more so than the widow could in Jesus’ parable. If persistence worked for her, then how much more likely can we expect it to work for us? What a wonderful and powerful incentive for us to keep on praying, amen?

* 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.

  1. Many people love to be self-righteous and judgmental.

Luke 18:9-12, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else,Jesus told this parable:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray,one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

* This man did not go to pray he went to inform God about how good he was.

* In the midst of his prayer he attacks others that have come to the temple to pray. 

* The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector illustrates the terrible human tendency to think in terms of “us” and “them.”

* He talks about the tax collector. He does not talk to the tax collector. He does not talk with the tax collector. He talks about him and objectifies him.

* He has no relationship with him. He is just pointing to him and telling God, “That’s not me. That’s not us. That’s them. That’s those type of people.”

Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faiththat God has assigned.”

* God tells us that we are wrong if we try to see our works and our goodness as a basis for our salvation. The Old Testament testifies to this whole attempt to live a perfect life, and no one could.

* When God compares people, he compares them with himself and in comparison to God no one is good. God even says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

* We are called to be holy, but no one can live by God’s holy standard.

* Sin will block our prayers from the ears of God.  Only one man went home justified (Verse 14)

Isaiah 59:1-2, “Indeed, the Lord's hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide [His] face from you so that He does not listen.”

  1. 3. Personal repentance leads to being justified and exalted by God.

Luke 18:13-14, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

* This man asked for mercy because he knew it was the only thing that could save him.

* Prayer characterized by genuine humility from the heart pays off.

* Jesus said that the judge was slow to respond to the widow but that God is “quick” to respond to our payers. “… will [God] delay long in helping them?” Jesus asks (v. 8).

* Then why does it seem like God sometimes delays answering our prayers? Let me float this idea out to you this morning.

* If we understand and embrace what Jesus said that God will “quickly” answer our prayers as truth, then I think that we all should be more excited about seeking the Lord in prayer than we have been.

* C.S. Lewis explained it this way: “Prayer is a request. The essence of a request, as distinct from a demand, is that it may or may not be granted. And if an infinitely wise being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant them and sometimes refuse them.”

* Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, put it: “If God answered every prayer of mine, I would have married the wrong man seven times!”

* Sometimes the answer is “no”. And sometimes the answer is “wait.”

* The idea is this: God begins answering our prayers as soon as we pray them.

Timmy by Howard Hendricks:

We knew a lovely couple in Dallas who sold their business and went into Christian work.  They had four kids and at one time things got rather rough. One night at family worship, Timmy the youngest boy, said, “Daddy, do you think Jesus would mind if I asked Him for a shirt?” Well, no, of course not.  Let’s write that down in our prayer request book.  So Timmy’s mother wrote down his prayer request that evening and even included the words “size seven”.  Timmy saw to it that they prayed for the shirt every evening.  One day Timmy’s mother received a telephone call from a business man that had just finished a clearance sale at his story. Knowing that the family had four boys he thought they might use some of the shirts that were left over. Timmy’s mother asked him ‘what size?’ He replied; “Size seven!”  How many do you have?  She asked.  He replied; “twelve”. Many people would have just taken the shirts and stuffed them in their child’s drawer.  Not this wise couple.  You see Timmy had been very persistent about his prayers.  That night at family worship Timmy said, “Don’t forget, Mommy, let’s pray for the shirt.”  His mother said.  Honey, we don’t have to pray for the shirt anymore. The Lord has answered our prayers.” As previously arranged, Tommy his brother went out and got a shirt and brought it to Timmy. Little Timmy’s eyes got as big as saucers.  But the story does not end there.  Tommy went back out of the room and brought in another shirt and put it on the table by his brother.  He did this twelve times until the table was full of shirts.  But you know there is a little boy by the name of Timmy who thinks God is in the shirt business.  He also knows there is a God in heaven interested in the needs of a little boy.

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