Luke: Prayer: Intimacy with God (Part 1) 03/17/19

Message: ‘Prayer: Intimacy with God’ pt.1

Text: Luke 18:1-14

Introduction: PP: Theologian, and loving pastor, Martin Luther once said:

  • I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

Who does that? I mean really? When we have a lot to do, we may get up early,  but it’s to get an early start on what we have to do… it’s rarely to pray.

PP: Next Slide

Pastor Derek Geldard challenges us with this question: If you got invited to meet and have exclusive access for a day to an influential Christian like Rick Warren, RC Sproul, Franklin Graham, or J.I. Packer; would you accept the invite?

  • Since it would be an honor to “pick” the brains of the some of the most influential Christian leaders of our time, we would likely say “YES” with great joy in our hearts!
  • And yet when God, Who is infinitely more powerful, influential, knowledgeable, holy, and wiser than all of humanity combined; we rarely spend any time talking to Him.

(Unquote)

Truth is, prayer for most Christians, is about asking God to help us, to heal us, to fix us (or to fix someone else), or to give us something.

What we really need, is rarely what we pray for. What we need is Jesus.

  • We ought to pray, not to have a good life but to enjoy the One Who is good.
  • We ought to pray, not to get gifts, but to have fellowship with the Giver of all gifts.
  • We ought to pray, not to claim promises, but to hold on tight to the One who makes the promises.
  • We pray: ‘Jesus give me direction.’ When Jesus says ‘I am the Way (John 14:6)
  • We pray, Jesus give me peace.’ When Jesus says ‘You’ll find peace in Me. (John 16:33)

On the front cover of your Bulletin, you’ll find an insightful yet little practiced quote from one of the Early Church theologians John Chrysostom… it’s on the screen.

Read Screen: We pray not to inform God or instruct Him, but to become intimate with Him.

  • Christian, prayer, is the most significant way God chooses to transform and deepen our relationship with Him.

Background: Our text is Luke 18:1-14.

  • Today, in verses 1-8 we’ll find Jesus talking about persisting in prayer for the purpose of deepen our relationship with and faith in Him, so we won’t lose heart.
  • Next Sunday, in verses 9-14, we’ll find 2 different men, 2 different postures, 2 different prayers and 2 different outcomes. And only one showed intimacy with God.

PP:A. Luke 18:1-8  Parable of the unjust judge

And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”” (Luke 18:1–8, ESV) PP: 2 Slides

PP:  1. Luke 18:1 Always pray

And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

As I get older, losing things has become the new normal: passwords, usernames, keys, money I hid for a special occasion… We all lose things, but life, well, it still goes on.

But, what often keeps life from going on, at least from our perspective, is when we lose hope, Jesus calls it lose heart. And while losing things is not all that significant in the grand scheme of life, losing heart is.

  • We experience one disappointment, one defeat after another.
  • We feel overwhelmed and grow more discouraged every day.
  • We struggle and feel suffocated by our own inability to change things.

Jesus, Jesus knows.. and He cares. He also knew His disciples would face more than they could ever expect, as they too will come face to face with discouragement and fear.

It’s unusual, but Jesus gives His disciples the meaning of this  parable, up front. He’s telling  them and us know, that He knows and cares.

  • And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

They ought always to pray… the most significant way NOT to lose heart, is to have a regular habit of prayer.

To the Christians in Thessolonica, the Apostle Paul wrote:  pray without ceasing  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  • It’s personally interesting to me, that the phrase without ceasing in the Greek has the idea of a nagging cough that just won’t go away…

What should we be praying about as often as I cough in the winter?

Everything… but specific to our text, is the same thing Jesus earlier taught His disciples to pray:

  • Our Father in heaven… Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

The idea is this: For the follower of Jesus Christ, living in ‘the already but not yet’ aspect of His Kingdom, prayer is neither trivial nor optional.

Then Jesus tells them, And not lose heart… this could also be translated ‘And not grow weary’, ‘And not give up’.

This parable is designed to teach us that

  • even when our prayers are not answered in a timely manner,
  • we should persevere, we should not grow weary and give up on God.

God promises that He will act, in His time. We’ll look closer at that in verse 7.

During ‘the already but not yet’ of God’s Kingdom, that’s the today, people will continue to be enticed by what the world offers and will lose hope in God… much like they did in the days of Noah and Lot.

  • The parable encourages Christians to persevere.. how? With persistent prayer.

PP: 2. Luke 18:2  The character of the unjust judge pt.1  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.

This is a parable, but it’s based on truth. In Jesus’ day there were men appointed by both King Herod and the Roman officials, to be judges over the people in civil matters.

  • The ears of everyone listening would have perked when Jesus talked about this judge… because they all hated them.

Jesus rightly described them as: one who neither feared God nor respected man.

  • They had no love for, no commitment to, no relationship with, God.
  • They also had no love for, no commitment to, no concern for people suffering.

Most were unscrupulous, living off the bribes they took;

  • first to hear your case and second, to grant you victory in court.

So, the judge is the first character mentioned in the parable. The second, is a widow.

PP: 3. Luke 18:3 The persistent widow

And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’

In Jesus’ day, widows were a symbol of all who were poor and defenseless. And as such, she had no resources to bribe the judge to get her case

heard or to get justice in her legal matter. The only thing she had, was persistence.

  • She kept approaching his court on a daily basis, asking for her case to be heard,
  • so she could receive justice, against the one who was trying to take advantage of her.

Sidebar: Perhaps Jesus is trying to tell us that we won’t persist in pray until we realize that we have no other recourse and recognize our desperate need for Him.

PP: 4. Luke 18:4-5 The character of the unjust judge pt.2 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’

The Greek phrase for a while, can mean a long time. The judge’s job was to deal with injustice, but he had delayed that for a long time.

However, it seems even unscrupulous judges have a limit to what they can take. That’s the point here.

  • He didn’t hear her case because she bribed him.
  • He didn’t hear her case because it had merit.
  • He didn’t hear her case because she was a widow, even though he should have.
  • He didn’t find in her favor because she gave paid him off.

He did it, because he was tired of her relentless badgering. Allow me to paint a picture of what she did:

She begged this judge for help every day, all the time.

  • When he opened the court.
  • When he went into the marketplace.
  • When he was with his friends.
  • When he was at home.

Everywhere he went, she was there, constantly pleading with him to hear her case.

  • Today, the judge would get a restraining order against her.

 Sidebar: The Greek for beat me down in the text gives the idea of getting a black eye.

  • I don’t think this is physical here.
  • I think, even though he didn’t care about God or what people thought, just perhaps she was giving him too much bad press, as it were.

PP: 5. Luke 18:6-8a The character of our just God And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily.

A paraphrase consistent with the context is this:

  • Although God defers long to avenge them, and greatly tries their patience, yet He will avenge those who are His.

Here we come to the second major point in Jesus’ parable.

  • God is not like the unrighteous judge who cares not for people, nor for their suffering.
  • God is just, He loves, He hears, He cares and He will act… but in His time…

That means God is never put off or bothered by our prayers. Even our persistent prayers. Remember God’s phone # is Jeremiah 33:3

  • PP: Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and unsearchable things that you have not known.

PP: Next Slide

So wait patiently, seeking to nurture your relationship with God by seeking His face in prayer.

Remember this text is about waiting, living in ‘the already but not yet’ aspect of God’s Kingdom.

  • Jesus won’t come back, yet, to bring justice for all His saints and judgment for all sinners.

Why? Because of God’s love for those who are and will be His by faith in Jesus.

  • In other words, Jesus won’t return until all those who will be saved, are actually saved.

(See Romans 11:25)

So God’s delay of Jesus’ 2nd coming is an act of extreme grace!

What we see in this parable, is that, Jesus once again uses the Jewish teaching method of going from the lesser to the greater to make His point: It goes like this:

  • If in the end, an evil, unrighteous judge can be worn down and give justice to a widow…
  • How much more will God, Who is righteous and just, and Who is a loving Father, give His children what they need?

Sidebar: This doesn’t mean that if we badger God with persistently asking for something in prayer, that He will give it to us.

Often, there’s so much to what we might be asking for, that we can’t or may never see.

  • For God to answer us just because we been persistent in prayer
  • perhaps would do us or others great harm.

But listen to God’s wonderful promise to those who are His by faith in Jesus: And will not God give justice to His elect.

  • Regardless of your position on the doctrine of election, this is a promise that we all need to hold on tightly to.

The Jesus says: He will give justice to them speedily. Now speedily doesn’t mean fast here, it means suddenly. Remember the context is Jesus’ 2nd coming and it started in chapter 17…  in verse 24 it says

  • For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in His day.

Suddenly, like lightning (Jesus will come and bring justice to His elect)… so be ready, be praying.

PP: 6. Luke 18:8b Will we remain faithful?

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?

Here is Jesus’ third and final point in this parable.

And, I have to believe there was a tinge of sadness in His words.

Nevertheless, means; considering the wonderful and powerful promises of God, to care for and avenge His elect, yet, (nevertheless) when Jesus returns, will He find His elect… you and me, faithful?

  • Will our faith stand it’s ground, as the Lauren Daigle song ‘O’ Lord’ declares?
  • Will we persevere in prayer and deepen our relationship with God?
  • Or will we grow weary, will we give up, by giving in to the enticement of the world?
  • Will we… lose… heart?

PP: Next Slide

Conclusion: Pastor and theologian John Macarthur summed it up this way:

  • When He does come, and He will, will He find people praying for His return?  I kind of think that if He were to come now He would find a whole lot of people who call themselves Christians with very little interest in that.
  • Genuine Christianity never loses its grip on God, never loses its trust in Christ, never loses its hope.  But we get easily distracted, don’t we?  And the Lord is trying to nail this down in a practical way.
  • When He comes, will He find His people still crying day and night eagerly waiting for His return?  Will we love His appearing?

ILL: One last illustration: John Wesley, the great Methodist preacher, knew something about being discouraged and remaining persistent during his early years in the ministry. He logged a few of these instances in his diary:

  • Sunday am, May 5: Preached in St Anne’s. Asked not to come back.
  • Sunday pm, May 5: Preached in St. John’s. Deacons said, “Get out, and stay out!”
  • Sunday am, May 12: Preached in St Jude’s. Can’t go back there either.
  • Sunday pm, May 19: Preached in St. Somebody Else’s. Deacons called special meeting, and said I couldn’t return.
  • Sunday am, May 26: Preached on street. Kicked off street.
  • Sunday am, June 2: Preached at the edge of town. Kicked off highway.
  • Sunday pm, June 2: Preached in a pasture. Ten thousand came. (Alan Carr)

Persistence… right?

Christian, this parable might make us feel uncomfortable, but it reveals a great truth. And it’s that

  • we ought to be persistent in pray, especially praying Even so, come Lord Jesus.
  • So much so, that it defines our lives
  • as followers of Jesus Christ.