by David and Stephen Olford
Text: "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1).
Thought: It is not surprising that these words on the duty of intercession occur in the book of Luke. Prayer is one of the great themes with which the Evangelist deals again and again throughout the gospel. Here, Jesus was speaking, first of all, of:
1. The Sheer Necessity of Prayer: "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Throughout the previous chapter, the Lord Jesus had been speaking of His impending coming and of the increasing godlessness that would be evident in the world prior to His return. He warns of judgment and then goes on to impress upon His disciples the sheer necessity of prayer. In other words, the more imminent the coming of the Lord is, the more urgent becomes the ministry of prayer.
2. The Serious Activity of Prayer: "Men ought always to pray." Jesus illustrated the activity of prayer by telling the story of an importunate widow. In the story before us, we are told that an adversary was worrying this poor widow concerning some debt, which she felt was unjust. So, she came to the judge. He was a despicable man who regarded neither God nor man. "Do me justice," cried the poor woman, "I only ask for justice." Her visits became so frequent that by her continual pleading she eventually effected her purpose. The parable at this point serves to illustrate the value of importunity and constancy in prayer. The trouble with us is that we do not pray without ceasing.
3. The Simple Reality of Prayer: "Men ought always to pray." This reality of prayer is demonstrated by the way in which it reveals God—"Shall not God avenge?" (v. 7). The parable our Savior employed was intended to reveal God by way of contrast. Unlike the unjust judge, God is full of living interest, loving patience, and lasting justice; He always avenges His elect. This reality of prayer, moreover, rewards man. "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily" (v. 8). God always answers prayer. Whether it is "no," "yes," or "wait," it is always a definite answer. Therefore, it is no vain thing to pray. This is why Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
Thrust: "Pray Without Ceasing."