Praying is not just for asking things from God

Published 10:52 pm Monday, August 21, 2017

A popular movie called “Bruce Almighty” came out in 2003. It was about a TV reporter who was passed over for the anchorman position. At that point, Bruce Nolan complained to God about how unfairly he was treated.

Not long afterward, God contacted Bruce and offered him all of his powers, except free will, if he thought he could run the world any better.

Eventually, the world’s continuous unanswered prayers overwhelmed Bruce.

By contrast, I am so grateful for the God of Jesus Christ who loves all humankind, understands our concerns, wants us to pray, hears and answers our prayers.

“And Jesus told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). You probably know the story. A corrupt judge boasted that he cared neither for God or humankind.

A powerless widow kept pestering him to correct some wrong that had been done to her. Women at that time had no rights whatsoever, but she kept after him.

The only power this widow had was the power to pester, and so pester him she did. She pestered him day and night until finally the judge granted her request. What do we learn from this story about our prayer efforts?

Initially, we learn that God is a caring God that we can count on.  A parable is something that is laid alongside something else.

When we lay something side by side to teach a lesson, we have to understand that the lesson can come from things being like each or things being in contrast to each other.

At any rate, this parable of the unjust judge is a parable of contrast. Here Jesus is not suggesting that God is like the unjust judge, not at all.

To the contrary, Jesus is not likening them; he is contrasting them.

Jesus is saying that if our appeals are finally heard by an unwilling, secular judge, how much more will they be heard by a loving, caring heavenly father who loves all humankind intensely and wants to supply our needs. How much more, God?

The late Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton once said that there are at least three essentials without which prayer would be impossible. He listed these essentials as the following: a responsive person, a responsive universe and a responsive God.

God is love and wants the very best for all his family. For instance, when I pray for world peace, I am praying that God will open my eyes, and the eyes of others, so that we can see the world as God does.

And additionally, that we can enter into the effort of peacemaking that God already desires for our world.

There is much talk these days about unanswered prayer, but the real mystery is unoffered prayer. If an unwilling, secular judge will finally hear an appeal, how much more will a God who loves us all so intensely, hear our prayers?

Next, though persistence is not the main point of this parable, there is something to be said for it. Simply to keep at it is more important than we know.

How many marvelous achievements or accomplishments have been the result of someone’s bulldog tenacity to hang on or persist?

However, it is persistence in prayer that concerns us here. Now, persistence in prayer does not mean that we are trying to force him to act.

Rather, as the Bible affirms, that we continue to pray for whatever we know in God’s word is his will. From God’s word, we know that God longs for people to be saved, so we continue to pray for the salvation of others.

We know we should pray for daily provision, for the needs of other believers and for the missionaries and other.

But today, I especially want to call your attention to what God’s word says about our praying for peace.

What was it that the heavenly host sang at Jesus’ birth? We are informed that they praised God saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward [humankind]” (Luke 2:14).

God wants us to pray for a world of goodwill and peace, and work to make it so.

One other note, repeated prayer is not to remind God, but to thank him. That is, if we see God as “much more.”

We thank him a million times over for hearing and responding to our prayers.

At the turn of the century a coalition of dedicated citizens tried to overturn a corrupt political machine in New York City. At first, they won, then after a short period of time the political machine was back in power.

Someone wisely explained that this happened because “the good people got tired of being good before the bad people got tired of being bad.”

So we can all learn from this faithful widow. Our calling, as people of God, is to be persistent in our prayers for the goodwill and peace of our nation and world.

And thankfully, we have “a God to pray to.”

Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways.