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Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 20, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: Luke 18:1–18:8

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 18:1-8
Date: October 20th, 2019; Pentecost 19; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • “[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
  • In this parable there was a man who was a judge.  He didn’t care about God.  He didn’t care about what other people thought.  It was all about him.  
  • He was part of a corrupt legal system that saw the rich get their way while the poor were cheated.
  • There was a woman who was a widow.  
  • She had been cheated in some way and she was seeking justice.  
  • We are not told the details of how she was wronged, but she wasn’t going to put up with this injustice against her.
  • But the judge had no time for her.  Why would he – what did he care about some poor widow?
  • The widow wouldn’t give up asking the judge for justice.  She persistently comes to see the judge to ask for justice, over and over and over again.
  • But the judge refused to hear her case.  
  • She wouldn’t give up.  She kept coming to the judge saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.”
  • Finally the judge had a change of heart.  He decided to hear her case and give her justice!
  • What happened?  
  • Did he suddenly begin caring for those in need around him?  
  • No. 
  • It was because he couldn’t take her nagging anymore.  The woman’s relentless pursuit of justice wore him down.  
  • He couldn’t take it - the judge just wanted her to stop bugging him!  So he gave in and gave her what she wanted.
  • What do you think Jesus is trying to teach us here?
  • Some understand the parable in this way: Since the widow got what she wanted by persistently nagging the judge - we should be persistent in our prayer so that we get what we want from God.
  • In other words, if we keep praying over and over and over again for what we want - God will eventually break down and give us what we want to get us off of his back.
  • But, does that sound right?  
  • Does it make sense that God would want himself to be compared to the unjust judge in the parable?  
  • Does it make sense that God encourages us to pester him with prayer until he gives us what we want?
  • It doesn’t.
  • But let’s face it – we think like this sometimes.  
  • Many churches have prayer chains.  
  • Rightly understood prayer chains are a blessing.  
  • They can help us to be informed about the needs, joys, and sorrows of our brothers and sisters in the faith so that we can take them to God in prayer.
  • A prayer chain can help us to remember our constant dependence upon God in all things.
  • But it can be a danger if we begin to think that the more people we have praying, the more God will be pestered into breaking down and giving us what we want.
  • The point is not that God is like the unjust judge who finally breaks down and gives the persistent widow what she wants because he just can’t take it anymore.
  • The point is how unlike God is from the unjust judge.  
  • Unlike the unjust judge, our heavenly Father does care about you!  He does care about your needs!  He does care about your joys and sorrows!  
  • And even more - he rejoices to answer your prayers!  
  • Not because you have worn him down with nonstop nagging – but he answers your prayers because he loves you, and cares for you, and wants the best for you. 
  • For the sake of Christ Jesus God hears our prayers.  
  • It is for this reason that we ought always to pray.
  • It is for this reason that we do not lose heart when we face the difficulties of this life.  The difficulties that can leave us feeling weary.
  • We know that through Jesus we have a loving heavenly Father who cares for us and will answer our prayers according to his good and gracious will.  
  • Not necessarily according to our will – but our heavenly Father knows what is best and answers accordingly.
  • Even before we knew what to pray for – God answered our one true need in Jesus.  
  • He defeated sin.  He defeated death on the cross.  He has given us new life.  
  • When we pray for justice, when we pray for relief from the trials and heartaches of this life – the answer is Jesus.
  • Ultimately he is the answer to every prayer.  
  • He has overcome the world.  
  • He has freed us from the death sentence of sin.  
  • He has freed us from the pains of this life.
  • Sure, we still endure them for a while – but we are promised an eternity in heaven where such things are no more.
  • Jesus is the answer to all of your prayers.
  • When we pray for God to be with us.  When we pray to God to forgive us.  When we pray to God to guide us.  When we pray to God to strengthen us.  When we pray to God to save us.  When we pray to God to protect us.  The answer is Jesus.
  • Your prayers are answered when you hear Jesus speak to you his Word of pardon and forgiveness in the Holy Absolution.
  • Your prayers are answered when you recall the blessings of Holy Baptism poured out upon you - when you were forgiven and the protection of God was promised to you.
  • Your prayers are answered when Jesus comes to you in Holy Communion - as he forgives and strengthens you through his body and blood.
  • Your prayers are answered on the day of your death, when you take your last breath.
  • God answers all of our prayers according to his good and gracious will.  
  • God answers all of our prayers for healing and salvation and life.
  • And the answer is always “yes” in Christ Jesus.
  • So we pray and we do not lose heart.
  • Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.