“Continue to pray and do not lose heart,” are words of encouragement that Jesus gives to his followers.
There are many situations and events in our world, our country and in each of our personal lives these days that can cause us to lose heart. Jesus’ words give a sense of comfort and peace.
? Are you growing weary of:
- social distancing
- return spikes in the COVID virus
- working at home
- not working
- limiting activities outside your home
- issues in our society such as justice and equity that do not really change
- concerns about marriage; being single; parenting ?
Are you weary of praying about these concerns and other problems and not seeing definitive answers?
Jesus Speaks to Weariness
Jesus “gets it,” and he addressed this weariness regarding prayer. In fact he addressed it using a parable concerning a social injustice.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells his followers a parable to reinforce the truth that they should continue to pray and not lose heart. To emphasize his point, Jesus tells the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. (See Luke 18:1-8)
The widow had been unjustly treated, cheated out of what was rightfully hers (Luke 18: 3-4).
She went to the “source of justice” for help, but found more corruption there (Luke 18: 4).
The widow did not shrink back, she continued to speak out and seek justice from the “corrupt, uncaring” judge. In the end her perseverance was rewarded, not because of the “good heart” of the judge towards her, but because he did not want to continue to be “annoyed” by her (Luke 18:5).
Jesus then assures his followers that God is the righteous judge who sees and will answer (Luke 18:7-8).
Know These Truths
Jesus teaches several truths here:
1. God is good and just unlike the unrighteous judge.
- “He (God) loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5
- “For the LORD is righteous; He loves justice. The upright will see His face.” Psalm 11:7
2. God is the sovereign righteous Judge; he will see to it that justice and righteousness are brought about.
- “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” Psalm 7:11-13
3. Do not lose heart, keep praying. Prayer is to evidence true faith.
- “… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… ” Ephesians 6:18
“Do Not Lose Heart”
In Luke 18:1, Jesus states the purpose of this parable; “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart…”
What does it mean to lose heart? In the Greek New Testament the word is ἐykakein meaning: “to be fainthearted; to have inner weariness; to be exhausted; to be utterly spiritless; to lose enthusiasm and to become fearful.” Have you been feeling this way?
When we lose heart, we lose faith in the sense that we stop trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When we become fainthearted and weary, we lose the ability to envision God answering our prayer.
When we persevere in prayer we continue to trust God. As Jesus walked and talked with his disciples he knew that keeping faith over time in difficult circumstances would be a challenge for his followers.
Jesus Increases Faith
Jesus understands how difficult it can be for us to believe what we cannot see; to trust that God will help when a situation seems beyond help; or to wait over extended periods of time to see God working. Jesus understands that trusting God has its difficulties, so he provides truths and promises to help build up and increase our faith.
In Luke 17:5, a few paragraphs before Luke 18:1, we read that after Jesus taught on forgiving others, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. They realized how challenging forgiving others can be.
Jesus responds with this encouragement: “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:5-6)
Jesus helps the disciples out. He reduces faith to the size of a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are 1 to 2 millimeters or 0.039 to 0.079 inches in diameter. Jesus uses this small measure to reassure us that we can have faith in seemingly impossible situations.
When I am faced with a difficult situation that overwhelms me, I remember the measure that Jesus gave. In my mind’s eye I see a tiny mustard seed, the tiniest one in the pack maybe the size of a pin prick, and I think, “OK, Jesus, I can have this little measure of faith to trust you.”
Another encouragement that Jesus provides regarding faith is in Matthew 7:7-11.
- “Keep asking and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Here, as in the parable in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus emphasizes the idea of “keeping on” asking; continuing to ask, persevering in prayer.
I believe Jesus spoke truths like this at varying parts of his life to provide “faith spurs,”or faith encouragements for us along the journey.
Find Faith Spurs
I am weary. Sometimes I feel weighed down by everything that is happening, even though I see good in these things. Maybe you are feeling the heaviness of life right now. Look for the “faith spurs” that Jesus provided in the Word. Read them, pray them, and allow the words of Jesus and the Spirit to quicken your spirit. Then share them with your fellow travelers.