The Parable of the Persistent Widow: On Prayer

January 9, 2022 ()

Bible Text: Luke 18:1-8 |


The Parable of the Persistent Widow: On Prayer | Luke 18:1-8
Brian Hedges | January 9, 2022

I’d like to invite you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Luke. We will be reading Luke 18:1-8.

On November 30th I had a minor car accident. It wasn’t my fault; I was going through an intersection in a parking lot, someone didn’t see me, turned right in front of me, and so it was a very minor collision. The car that I was driving, the Pilot I’m driving, was still drivable; I’ve been driving it since. But it did about 2,000 dollars’ worth of damage, and ever since (up until the middle of this week) I’ve kind of been in that agonizing process of trying to get the other person’s insurance to come through. Have you ever been through this? This is not a fun experience.

I tried to count up the calls, and I’m not even sure that I got them all. There was a call on December 14th, after two weeks of waiting for the accident report to come through and then contacting the lady about her insurance. She’s been very kind and helpful through it. Anyway, I called her insurance agent, the adjustor; another call on the 15th, two calls on December 16th. I did miss two calls, one in December and one while I was on vacation.

Throughout this time I was also sending emails, and we’ve never been able to connect. I think the ratio of my calls to the agent’s calls back has been about five to one.

Finally I got back in town this week, and I was like, “Okay, it’s time to get this settled.” So I called on Monday and sent another email. By Tuesday I still hadn’t heard; I was starting to get impatient and frustrated. So I just decided, “Okay, I’m going to call three times a day until I heard from this guy. I’m going to inundate his email and voicemail until I hear back!”

I called three times on Tuesday, three times on Wednesday, and finally, after the third call on Wednesday, he called back. Anyway, Friday I got a quote for the repair, and the car will be repaired... in April. Go figure! Maybe it will happen before that, but at least it will be paid for.

The only good thing that’s happened out of this is that I got a sermon illustration out of it, which is the importance of persistence. Sometimes you just have to keep on pursuing and persisting in order to get an answer.

That’s exactly what the parable that we’re looking at this morning, a parable from Jesus in Luke 18, that’s exactly what it’s about. I think Jesus uses a pretty similar type of illustration.

We’re reading Luke 18:1-8, and this is the second of eight messages on parables of Jesus, stories from Jesus, in the Gospel of Luke. The aim in this series is to look at these parables and then to focus in each one on one particular dimension of practical Christian living.

Last week Phil talked to us about the parable of the soils and the importance of hearing the word with a good and an honest heart. “Take heed how you hear.” So it was a call to renewed reception of the word of God, both hearing it together as well as receiving it through our personal reading and devotion.

Today the focus is on prayer. Let’s read the passage in Luke 18:1-8. You can follow along on the screen or in your own copy of God’s word, or if you want to use one of those Bibles in the chairs in front of you it’s page 877. Luke 18, beginning in verse 1:

“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?’”

This is God’s word.

The parables of Jesus are simple stories, but they are stories in which there’s always a sting in the tail. There’s always a punch line, there’s a point. He takes simple illustrations from peasant life in Judea, Galilee, the world of that time, and he uses these stories to teach spiritual truths that challenge our hearts and our faith.

This story in particular is quite simple. What I want you to see is the lesson of the parable, which is that we need persistence in prayer; then I really want to focus most of the message on application of this lesson to our lives; and then I want you to see (and I think there are some clues in the text that point to this) the confidence we can have in our prayers that we will be heard. The lesson in the parable; application of the lesson; our confidence in being heard.

1. The Lesson of the Parable

The lesson is that we should persist in prayer. It’s right there in verse 1: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” They ought always to pray. That means praying at all times, on every occasion; and not lose heart. To lose heart means to become discouraged. The old King James put it like this: “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Not to lose heart, not to grow discouraged.

This word is also translated as “grow weary.” You remember those passages, like Galatians 6 and 2 Thessalonians, where the apostle Paul says that we are to “not grow weary in doing good.” That’s the same word that’s used here. The idea is that we do not grow weary with prayer, that we do not get discouraged in the face of seemingly unanswered prayer, that we don’t faint in our prayer lives and then quit praying, but that we keep on praying, that we persist in praying, that we are constant in our prayers.

You can see it pretty clearly in the parable of this unjust judge and a widow who, in the ancient world even more so than is sometimes true today, a widow would have virtually no social standing, no legal recourse in the case of some kind of an unjust situation, except to ask a judge for help.

Here’s an unjust judge, he doesn’t fear God, he doesn’t care about people, he doesn’t regard man; and here’s this poor widow who needs justice against her legal adversary, her legal opponent. She keeps coming, Jesus says. She kept coming to him in verse 3; it’s the imperfect tense of the verb. It carries the idea of continually coming and coming and coming. She was badgering him, she was bothering him. In fact, the judge finally says, “Because she keeps bothering me . . .” The word bother means to cause inconvenience or discomfort to someone. “Because she keeps bothering me,” he says, “I will give her justice, so that she does not beat me down by her continual coming.”

Jesus’ point in the parable is that just as the widow persisted, she kept coming, she kept badgering, she kept bothering; in the same way, we should be persistent in prayer. We should always pray and not lose heart.

It’s very similar to the lesson Jesus teaches in another passage on prayer, also in the Gospel of Luke, Luke 11:5-8. He doesn’t really call this a parable, but again it’s a story, and it carries a similar point. This is the story of the friend at midnight. Luke 11:5, “And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him.” He will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.’”

It’s the same idea. Impudence, persistence; you keep on asking. The point here, of course, is that there is power in persistence.

We know this in our personal lives. Most of us have not achieved very much (athletically or in education or in business or vocation or in family) without persistence, without hard work, without repeated failures, and then coming back and trying again and trying again and trying again. That’s how life works.

Maybe you’ve heard this story about an American politician in the 19th century. In 1832 lost his job, ran for the state legislature, but was then defeated. In 1833 he was defeated in business. In 1835 the woman he loved died. In 1836 he had a nervous breakdown. By 1838 he was a state legislator, but was defeated for speaker of the house in his state. In 1843 he was defeated for nomination to the U.S. Congress. In 1846 he was elected to Congress but then lost the renomination in 1848. He was defeated in a run for the Senate in 1854, and defeated for nomination for Vice President in 1856. And then in 1860 he was elected President—Abraham Lincoln, of course. Many defeats, and yet persistence. That’s the lesson.

Jesus is teaching us a lesson about persistence, particularly in regard to prayer. He’s teaching us that there is power in persistent prayer.

Now, this does presuppose, of course, that you have a prayer life. You will not persist in prayer if you’re not praying at all. You must have a prayer life. It presupposes that you do pray and that you are then tempted in your praying to give up. Let me just say here, as an initial application, that if you have no prayer life, if you never pray at all, that’s probably an indication that you’re not a Christian. It’s probably an indication that you’re actually not in a saving relationship with God.

The Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle, speaking of those who will finally be saved and welcome to Christ’s right hand at the last day, said that “all will have believed, all will have been washed in the blood of Christ, all will have been born again, all will have prayed.” He said, “Yes, we must pray on earth or we shall never praise in heaven. To be prayerless is to be without God, without Christ, without grace, without hope, and without heaven. It is to be on the road to hell.”

I think the case can certainly be made from Scripture that prayer is one of the first evidences of genuine salvation. Do you remember in Acts 9 when Saul of Tarsus, that persecutor of the church, was converted on the road to Damascus? The Lord comes to Ananias in a vision, and he tells Ananias, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying.”

Here was a man who’d been very religious, he’d been a Pharisee, he’d been self-righteous; but he didn’t know God. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, the first thing that changed is he started praying.

It’s implied, I think, in this parable in verse 8 when Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The whole parable is about persistence in prayer, and yet he says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Because, as Calvin said, prayer is the chief exercise of faith. The evidence of faith is prayer.

So, friend, if you’re here this morning and you don’t have a prayer life, start here, in faith. Call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Go home today, get on your knees, confess yourself a guilty sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving his displeasure; confess your spiritual bankruptcy, turn from the things you’ve been looking for, leaning on, depending on for satisfaction in your life, acknowledge them to the broken cisterns they are; and drink at the fountain of living waters. Turn to the Lord in prayer, humbly ask him to save you, to forgive you; call upon the name of the Lord, and you will be saved. Start there.

Persist in prayer. That’s the lesson, and in order to do that you have to have a prayer life, which means you have to have a real relationship with God.

2. The Application of the Lesson

Now, I think the lesson is pretty clear; how should we apply it? Point number two, the application of the lesson.

What I want to do here is suggest four areas in which we need to always pray and not lose heart; four situations.

(1) The first is this: in praying for God’s justice and his coming kingdom. That’s the context. That’s not the first place most of us go when we think about prayer, but that’s the context here. You can see it again in verse 6. Jesus say, “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.” That’s the context, that they are praying for justice.

If you go back into chapter 17, the middle of the chapter, in verse 20 the Pharisees are asking Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. The rest of that chapter is really about the coming of the Son of Man. That’s the context. It’s the idea of those who are praying, who are longing for, who are waiting for the coming of the kingdom of God, and God’s saving justice to finally be revealed.

You remember this is right at the top of the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

This should be at the forefront of our prayer lives. I think it often isn’t. Perhaps it’s because in the relative ease of the west it’s easy for us to forget the urgent and eager longing with which the church throughout history has anticipated the second coming of Christ. But listen, when you’ve suffered for Jesus, when you, like an ancient Christian, have seen a husband or a wife thrown to the lions, or a son or daughter locked in prison, or pastors or martyrs burned at the stake—when you have witnessed Christians sealing their faith through the shedding of their blood—then you would with the rest of the church and with the martyrs under the altar in Revelation 6 cry out to God, “How long, O Lord, before you come and vindicate our beloved?”

Surely, brothers and sisters, if we were more attuned to the suffering of saints throughout the world, to the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ in less tolerant societies, we would pray more fervently for the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ and the revelation of God’s justice in the world. That’s the first thing; we should be praying kingdom-type prayers, kingdom kinds of prayers. This would include prayers for justice, it would include prayers for the salvation of the lost, unreached peoples of the world. This would be prayers for those who are serving in really difficult places to take the gospel where Christ has not been named. We should persist in such prayers.

(2) This lesson in prayer also applies to the more mundane, ordinary concerns of our lives. So secondly, we should also pray and not lose heart when praying for provision and for direction in our personal lives.

Have you ever been in dire straights? Have you ever been in a situation that seems so hopeless that you see no way out? Have you ever wondered if, how, and when God would come through for you?

Almost 20 years ago now, in the summer of 2002, I was a young man, had been in my first pastorate; it did not go well. In June of 2002 I resigned. It seemed like the only option. I wasn’t fired, but it seemed like the only option to prevent further division in that church, which was largely made up of one family. This was a small little church. So I resigned. I only had a part-time job. Baby Stephen was only a few months old. Our marriage was probably at its lowest point, and I left that church and didn’t know if I would ever be in ministry again.

I searched high and low for a job that could support our family. I didn’t even know how I’d do that. Summer turned to fall; we moved out of the parsonage and in with my brother and his wife, who were gracious enough to give us some space in their little three-bedroom home. I continued to look for work.

During that period of time, I think I grew more desperate than I’ve ever felt in my life, because I just didn’t know how—I didn’t know what was going to happen, I didn’t know how we were going to make it. I didn't know what to do.

I will never forget, during those weeks and months of the winter of 2002, rolling into 2003, I started praying with more persistence than I ever had in my life. I would lock myself away in the little hall bathroom in my brother’s house, late at night when everybody had gone to bed, and I would get on my knees, on my face, and beg. “God, you are the God who divided the Red Sea. You’re the God who provided manna in the wilderness. You are the God who has done miracles. You have answered prayer. Your word says that you will do this, and I’m asking you, please provide for us.”

At that point, I didn’t care whether I was a pastor again—I wasn’t about to lose my faith, I was involved in a local church, happy to do that. All I wanted was for the Lord to provide, for the Lord to take care of our family, for the Lord to direct us and show us what to do. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, pleading the promises of God. And he answered! He so graciously answered.

Some of you may be in a season like that right now. A difficult job or no job, a strained marriage relationship, needing direction, needing provision. I just want to say to you, keep praying. Don’t lose heart. God can provide, God will direct. Plead his word.

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

(3) Thirdly, we should pray and not lose heart when praying for deliverance from sin and the assurance of our salvation.

I want to speak for a moment to some of you who have been secretly wrestling with sin, secretly troubled about your soul. It may be that you believe Christianity, at least in theory, but you are not at peace in your conscience. You’re not at peace with God. Maybe you are in the grip of some habitual sin, maybe you are harboring some long-held resentment or bitterness, and you just can’t seem to shake it. Maybe you are enslaved to the guilt of some great sin committed a long time ago or to a repeated pattern of sin, habitual sin, repeated day after day, week after week, year after year; but you’re not at peace, and you don’t know that things are right between your soul and your creator. You feel far from God; you don’t even know if you’re saved.

If that’s where you are this morning, I want to urge you also, keep praying, and don’t lose heart.

The prophet Isaiah in chapter 55 said, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Seek him, and you will find him. Persist in prayer.

Spurgeon told the story of a man long ago, a man in England who had been imprisoned in Saracen. I think this story has since been shown to be legendary, not history, but it makes a wonderful point. The man, Gilbert Beckett, had been imprisoned in Saracen; he was treated kindly by the prince who imprisoned him, and he actually fell in love with the Saracen lord’s daughter. He escaped, and she loved him as well, and so she fled from her father’s house and she went to England, but all she knew was the first name of this man she had fallen in love with. His name was Gilbert.

So she determined that she would go through London and she would go through every street, every road in London, and she would just cry out his name: “Gilbert! Gilbert! Gilbert!” until she found him.

The story goes that she sought road after road, day after day, calling out his name, until she did find him, and they were united and married. Again, this story is legendary, not history, but it beautifully illustrates the point.

Isn’t it the same idea that you find in the Song of Songs, Hebrew poetry that many believe illustrates the relationship between God and his people Israel and between Christ and the church? In Song of Songs 3:1-4 the spouse says, “On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city and the streets and in the squares. I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not.”

Do you ever feel like that? Is this what it’s like in your relationship with God? “I’ve sought him, but I haven’t found him.”

Listen to what she does. Verse 3 says, “The watchmen found me as they went about the city. ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’” She keeps searching. Verse 4, “Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves; I held him, and I would not let him go.”

Be like Jacob wrestling with the angel in Genesis 32, where he said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” As you are wrestling with God for peace of conscience, for deep assurance, for release, for a sense of forgiveness, for an assurance that you are saved, that you are right with the Lord, you’re wrestling with that—you hold onto the Lord, you cling to his promises, you cry out to him until you know that you know that you know that things are right between your soul and the Savior.

(4) One more, number four. Keep praying and don’t lose heart when praying for your unsaved loved ones, your unbelieving family members and friends.

Let me ask you, how many of you this morning have a father or mother, a brother or sister, a son or daughter, or maybe just a close friend or other loved one, who is not a Christian? Let me see your hand. I think that’s every hand in the room.

I’m sure that some of you have been praying for years. Some of you have seen tremendous answers to prayer, and some of you have been praying for a long time without yet seeing the fruit of your prayers. This morning, I want to speak to you the word of the Lord Jesus himself, who tells us that we should always be praying and not lose heart in praying for this.

What is more important for us to pray for than that God would be glorified in the salvation of those who do not know Christ? Don’t be discouraged! Don’t be weary in welldoing! Don’t give up in your prayers. Keep praying for that wayward son or daughter. Keep praying for that backslidden family member. Keep praying for that unbelieving brother or sister. Pray for their eyes to be opened, pray for the heart of stone to be replaced with a heart of flesh. Pray that the dead eyes will see and the dead ears will begin to hear. Pray that they will see and understand the beauty and the glory of Jesus Christ in the gospel. Pray for repentance; pray for faith. Lay hold of God in prayer and keep praying until you have an answer.

Brothers and sisters, I’m speaking to myself now as much as I am to anybody. I think that we are so reactionary and so cautious about a “name it and claim it” theology, and a wrong application of the promises of Scripture—we’re so wary of that that we have become fatalistic, perhaps we might say hyper-Calvinistic, in our approach to prayer. We do not take the Scriptures as seriously as we should. We don’t take the open-ended promises of God and of Jesus in the invitation to prayer as seriously we should.

I’ve been startled as I’ve read Spurgeon—I’ve been reading Spurgeon for several years now, pretty regularly, and I read a sermon in the last week, and he said something that just blew my mind. This is amazing. I want you to see this. This is a long quote; I think it’s worth paying attention to, wrestling with, and thinking about, because Spurgeon here says something that is so amazing if this is true. I want you to listen to this.

“Why should the church continue in prayer? For several reasons, and the first is God will answer her. It is not possible that God should refuse to hear prayer. It is possible for him to bid the sun stand still and the moon to stay her monthly march, it is possible for him to bid the waves freeze in the sea, possible for him to quench the light of the stars in eternal darkness; but it is not possible for him to refuse to hear prayer which is based upon his promise and offered in faith. He can reverse nature, but he cannot reverse his own nature, and he must do this before he can forebear to hear and answer prayer. The prayers of God’s church are God’s intentions. You will not misunderstand me. What God writes in the book of his decree, which no eye can see, that he, in process of time, writes in the book of Christian’s hearts, where all can see and read. The book of the believer’s desire, if those desires be inspired of the Holy Spirit, is just an exact copy of the book of the divine decree; and if the church be determined today to lift up her heart in prayer for the conversion of men, it is because God determined from before all worlds that men should be converted. Your feeble prayer today, believer, can fly to heaven and awake the echoes of the slumbering decrees of God. Prayer is a decree escaped out of the prison of obscurity and come to life and liberty among men. Pray, brother, pray, for when God inspires you your prayer is as potent as the decrees of God.”

That is an amazing statement.

Listen, there’s a mystery in prayer. I can’t explain it. I don’t pretend to understand it. I cannot explain it. God does his will; God is sovereign; I know that. Yet Jesus says things like this (Luke 11:9-10): “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Jesus said that, therefore keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking.

Persist in prayer. Pray and do not lose heart. Bring your sons and your daughters, your brothers and sisters, your friend, your neighbors, those who do not believe—bring them to the throne of God. Be like the people in Jesus’ day who would bring their lame and cripped friends to Jesus. They couldn’t bring themselves, so their friends brought them to Jesus so that they would be healed. Lay them at Jesus’ feet, and ask Jesus, the compassionate, merciful Savior, to save their souls. Pray and do not lose heart.

3. Our Confidence in Being Heard

Finally, last point: our confidence in being heard. There are two reasons I see here for confidence that if we pray with persistence in faith, in accord with the revealed word of God and the promises of God, that we will be heard.

(1) There is a contrast, first of all. I haven’t said a whole lot about the unjust judge, and the point of the parable is not that God is like the judge, because he’s not. The point of the parable is that the widow persisted, and her persistence even with an unjust judge brought a result. Therefore we should persist in prayer.

But we know from the rest of Scripture that God, in contrast to the unjust judge, is actually a just and a gracious heavenly Father. God, the Old Testament tells us over and over again, is the God who cares for widows. God hears the cries of his elect, his chosen ones.

Again, Jesus in Luke 11 says, likening God to a father, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent, or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Listen, God is attentive to his children, and he is not bothered by our prayers. When we persist in prayer, it doesn’t bother him, it delights him! Psalm 50:14-15 says, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will glorify me.” It glorifies God for you to call on him in trouble and for him to deliver you. That glorifies God.

Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord takes pleasures in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

I love this word from Luther. Luther said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, prayer is laying hold of God’s willingness.”

How willing is he to welcome you to his throne of grace? He is so willing that he sent his Son to purchase that privilege for you.

(2) That’s the second reason we should have confidence in prayer, because of the cross.

God hears us when we cry. Verse 7, “Will not God hear his elect who cry to him day and night?” He hears us when we cry. The reason he hears us when we cry is because on the cross Jesus took our sin, bore our judgment, and opened the way to God’s throne of grace.

That word “cry” is actually a pretty vivid word. I looked it up, looked up every use of it in the New Testament. The only time the word “cry” is used as a verb to describe what Jesus does is in Mark 15, when Jesus died on the cross, and he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Because Jesus cried out on the cross, bearing your sin and your judgment, and endured for those few hours God forsaking him—because of that, when you cry out you will be heard.

The great hymn-writer John Newton wrote one of the most profound hymns on prayer that I know of, and I want to end with these words. It’s all gospel; it’s pure gospel. You can read along on the screen as I read.

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before his feet,
For none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea;
With this I venture nigh.
Thou callest burdened souls to thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to thee for rest.

Be thou my shield and hiding place
That, sheltered near thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face
And tell him thou hast died.

O wondrous love, to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners such as I
Might plead thy gracious name!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, prayer is a blood-bought privilege for every son and daughter of God. You are invited to come, you are welcomed at the throne of grace. You are commanded to come. It delights God when you come. He has promised to answer you when you come.

Therefore, bring your burdens, bring your trials, brings your sins, bring your sorrows, bring your family, bring them to the throne of grace; plead his promises; ask him to answer you; keep praying; and do not lose heart.

Let’s pray.

Father, I pray that you would take these truths from your word and that you would burn them deeply into our hearts in such a profound way that we could not help but change the way we pray. Lord, I’m sure there are a handful of people here, faithful saints more seasoned and more mature than I am, who have vibrant prayer lives and have been praying for years and have seen many, many, many answers. Most of us are children in this. We’re just learning our ABCs.

Lord, I pray that you would help us learn this lesson, this simple lesson from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we should always pray and not lose heart. I pray that you would help us put it to practice in exactly those situations in our lives where we feel most hopeless and most in need. Help us bring our needs to you, and help us come with the deep confidence that you hear us because you love us, you hear us because Jesus our High Priest even right now is interceding and praying for us, because you delight to be true and faithful to the rich promises of your word.

Lord, I want to take a moment right now and collectively, as the body of Christ, pray for these unsaved family members and friends. Every one of us raised our hands. So right now we lift them to you. O God, be merciful. Save those who are lost, these specific individuals in our minds, our hearts at this moment, Lord. Be merciful. Bring them to yourself. Give us the faith and the persistence to lay hold of your promises and to plead and to persist in prayer, and to not give up until we see them safely within the fold.

Father, maybe there’s somebody here right now, at this moment, who’s not a Christian, but they’re turning to you in this moment in this room. I pray, Lord, that you would hear them as they call upon your name, and that they would be saved.

As we come to the Lord’s table, we ask you to draw near to us by your grace and through your Holy Spirit. Meet with us, renew our hearts, strengthen our faith, help us take great comfort from the broken body and shed blood of our Savior, Jesus. In his precious name we pray, amen.