THE POWER OF PRAYER
Key Verse: 18:1
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they
should always pray and not give up."
1. Read verse 1. What was the point of Jesus' parable? Why do people
sometimes give up instead of praying? Why should they not? 1 Thes
2. How does Jesus describe the judge? What is the prayer topic of the
persistent widow? If the judge did not fear God or man, what did he
fear? What was his decision? Why?
3. Read Philippians 4:4-7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. What does Paul
teach about prayer and patience? What do you know about Paul's own
prayer life? What kind of faith must we have when we pray? (Mk
4. Read verses 9-14. What do the men in this parable teach us about
the right attitude of prayer? About the attitude that is
unacceptable to God?
5. Read verses 15-17. What must we learn from Jesus and from children
about the attitude we must have to receive the kingdom of God?
In this passage, Jesus prayerfully teaches his disciples how to
pray. They must pray; but they should not give up. There are many
defects in Jesus' disciples. The worst one was their lack of prayer.
They saw that Jesus prayed every day. But the disciples didn't grasp
the meaning of Jesus' prayer. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the
morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went
off to a solitary place, where he prayed." When Jesus was praying early
in the morning, still it was dark. The disciples were excited by the
fact that the people were coming to Jesus for his help and that the
future prospect of Jesus' business on earth seemed to be successful (Mk
1:37). When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, they wanted to
participate in Jesus' prayer (Lk 22:42). When Jesus was praying to
overcome his will and follow God's will, they grappled for the time
being and fell asleep. In our Christian faith, "Bible study," "prayer"
and "hymn singing" are the foundation of our Christian faith. They are
the same, though each expression is different. How we pray determines
what kind of life of faith we would have. Therefore, it is very
important for us to hear Jesus' word today about prayer.
First, persistent prayer (1-8).
Once this nation was glorious. Whatever they did, they began with
prayers and ended with prayers. Even in the classroom, prayer was
essential to their studies. But one married woman joined the army in
Germany. She had an affair with another married man. She became
pregnant. She should repent her sin and find a new way in God for her
future life. But she became an atheist to cover up her sins. Because of
her, on June 17, 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that reading the Bible
and prayer in the classroom were unconstitutional. And this applied to
all states so rapidly like a plague. This small event caused the
people of this nation to lose national direction and divine purpose,
that is, "In God we trust." If the Constitution did not include school
prayers and Bible reading, the Supreme Court should improve the
Constitution. The Supreme Court justices should have had a sense of
history. When prayer was forbidden at schools, devoted Christian
parents and young kids gradually began to drink and enjoy physical
pleasures. These days the worst part of this country is junior high
school kids' moral standard. They make up heavily to draw attention of
boys or girls. What is worse, their moral depravity is largely condoned
in society. Those who have no immoral experience are despised and
rejected by their peers or groups. Here we learn that when the root is
corrupt, the whole body of the tree corrupts very soon. We also learn
that the national Constitution is not everything, but the law of God
should be alive in the Constitution of this nation. Prayer gives us
access to the holy God. These days, without prayer, no one can remain
Look at verse 1. "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show
them that they should always pray and not give up." In this verse,
"always" spells out both in the time of happiness and adversity. It is
hard for us to pray. But it is very easy not to pray. Those who pray
superficially do not know what they prayed right after they prayed.
What is the definition of prayer? Prayer is, as of first importance,
listening to God. Prayer is not the time of preaching to God. When
we don't pray and do not listen to God, we lose the vision that God has
for us and we forget that God wants to fulfill his will through us.
Prayer is also talking to God. We weak human beings need God's
counseling daily. When we pray, God speaks to us unutterable wisdom
from above to solve the problems that make us helpless. Prayer gives us
inner strength in our souls. After all, prayer makes us have faith in
God. Prayer changes us amazingly. Prayer enables us to proclaim the
gospel of salvation.
Sometimes prayer seems to be unanswered and we become impatient. In
this part, Jesus teaches his disciples to be patient in our prayers.
How patient should we be? Without patient prayer, nothing can be done.
For example, God prayed to fulfill the world salvation plan three times
of 14 generations. Jesus tells his disciples a very interesting story
to show how we can be patient people of prayer. Jesus said, "In a
certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about
men" (2). Contrary to this judge, there was a woman who needed God's
grace. She kept coming to him with the plea, "Grant me justice against
my adversary." Maybe because she was a widow in a man-oriented society,
she could not maintain her human right with her widowed situation. The
judge in the community saw the woman's determination to obtain justice
from him. He said to himself, "Even though I don't fear God or care
about men, 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 and nagging time and again!" The judge did not fear God and he
did not fear anybody. But he feared the widow.
Jesus said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 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? I tell you, he will see that
they get justice, and quickly" (6-8a). Here Jesus teaches us that we
should not give up or despair at any situation, but come to God to
pray. Then we will see that our prayers are answered. We live in the
last part of the 20th century. Human freedom and the development of
technology rule over the law of God and the integrity of true humanity.
In this generation, God chose us to shepherd God's flock. When we want
to shepherd God's flock, we can hardly find the children whose hearts
were not badly broken when their families were broken up. When we want
to feed God's flock, we can hardly find those who are not enslaved with
bad habits. Feeding the sheep is absolutely impossible. So we despair.
When we want to pray, "May God make America a kingdom of priests and a
holy nation," we feel that we are challenged by our unbelief. But we
must remember the persistent woman who received justice from an inhuman
judge. Outwardly, this world is filled with ungodly people. But there
are holy children of God in every corner of the world who pray.
George Washington was the first president of the United States of
America. So he must be regarded as the number one man in U.S. history.
But most people regard Abraham Lincoln as the number one man. There is
a strong impression that George Washington was a great general and
Abraham Lincoln was a shepherd-like president. Why is it so? Everybody
knows that during the time of the Civil War, in the midst of
catastrophic accidents that had happened here and there, President
Lincoln had to give instructions. But he delayed all the decisions and
knelt down and prayed every day at least one hour. He worked for the
unification of Union and Confederacy. But ultimately, he fought the war
to please God. He knew that all men are equal before God. As a result,
the United States of America has not become like South America, divided
into many nations. How difficult it was for President Lincoln to pray
during the wartime every day (1861-1865). But he prayed. He had had so
much hindrance to pray, but he prayed. Then God heard his prayer and
blessed this nation not to be divided into two, but to be blessed as
the United States of America.
Among the apostles, St. Paul was a most exemplary prayer servant.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray
continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will
for you in Christ Jesus." God made us to maintain love, joy and peace
(Gal 5:22). But these days, secular humanists do not pray and they
diligently hinder those who pray in school or at the house of prayer.
As a result, they lost the love of God. They also lost the peace of
Men must experience joy all the time. But secular humanists excluded
God in this nation. Most people are not joyful. Instead, they look very
irritable and nervous like paranoid patients. For example, in driving,
when the red light changes to green and the driver in front lingers two
seconds, then the driver behind honks to the maximum degree. When we
hear such a honk, we are frightened as if we had committed a crime.
Peace is God's gift to each person. But the anxiety for future
security and the hidden fear of death eats people up moment by moment.
So they cannot experience the peace of God. But we must experience the
peace of God. When we pray, we can experience the peace of God. Paul
lived a life of faith and experienced the peace of God even in prison.
He said in Philippians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say
it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is
near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer
and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the
peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." He was in prison. If he were an
ordinary man, he would be consumed by his own anxiety. But he prayed
even for others and the most impressive words in the verse are "with
thanksgiving." In that terrible situation, he was too old to be a
prisoner. But he was a prisoner to proclaim the gospel of salvation to
the Roman world. He had nothing to be thankful for. But he was full of
thanksgiving. Philippians is one of the prison epistles. But the word
"thanks" is most repeated in this book.
Prayer is very personal. But our prayer topic should accord with the
Lord's prayer (Lk 11:2-4). We must pray that all peoples of the world
may love like brothers and sisters by calling God, "Our Father." We
must pray that the kingdom of God may extend more and more. Most people
feel that there are so many wicked people that this is the end of the
world. They think that this kind of world should not continue. But
Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come." Prayer is the
measure of faith. Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be
yours." When we pray we must use present perfect tense. Jesus said,
"When you pray, believe that you have received it." We must believe
that God has already answered our prayer. America is a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation. Amen. Jesus tells us, "However, when the Son
of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (8b) Of course, Jesus
is very sorry to see the ungodly in this world. But Jesus is happy to
see us who pray.
Second, God hears repentant prayer (9-14).
In this part, Jesus teaches us what kind of attitude we must have
when we pray. When we pray, we must humble ourselves, realizing that we
are sinners before God. There is a great danger for us to be proud when
we keep up the life of prayer. So Jesus warns his disciples to be
repentant and humble when they pray. Jesus told a story to some who
were confident of their righteousness and looked down on everybody
else. Maybe they had a pride of being men and women of prayers.
Unconsciously, they looked down on others. They prayed with a loud
voice in the marketplace, but they did not pray personally before God.
They thanked God for themselves, that they were not like others. Look
at verse 13. "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.'" Jesus told his disciples that this man rather than
the other self-righteous man, this tax collector, was justified before
God. Humbleness is the inner attitude of prayer.
Third, the kingdom of God belongs to a childlike person (15-17).
On one occasion, people brought their babies to be blessed by
Jesus. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them for their
selfishness. But Jesus stopped his disciples' rebuking and let the
little children come to him and said in verse 17, "I tell you the
truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little
child will never enter it." This verse tells us the attitude of a child
who believes simply and absolutely. This world is full of petty things
and too much common sense. Therefore, the hardest thing is to make our
hearts simple like a child and to listen to the word of God simply and
absolutely. To have simple and absolute faith is almost impossible. But
we must study the Bible and cleanse our hearts and common sense and be
like the children of God who deserve the kingdom of God.
In this passage we learned that we must learn how to pray. We must
learn not to give up, but to pray. We experience every day we cannot
but despair. We experience every day we want to do something to please
God, but we just give up. But let's learn how to pray and not give up.