[Image of woman in deep sorrow and pain]
What’s the point of prayer? Does it really make a difference?
Do you ask for justice – but it just doesn’t seem to happen, and so you want to give up?
When you pray for justice, what are you really praying for?
Luke 18:1 “And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray.”
But why? Why would Jesus want us to always pray?
In a recent sermon, we looked at the story of the persistent widow found in Luke 18:2 In this story, there was a widow who frequently came to a judge 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 with her continual coming.” Then Jesus said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?”
Do you ever feel like that when you pray?
1) Like a widow, left alone in an unfair world pleading to a judge that just doesn’t seem to listen?
2) Like you ask for justice but God refuses?
3) Like God is supposed to be a just judge but He’s not?
Well, is God just and does He answer our pleas for justice?
Jesus says He is, “…will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.”
Well, if that’s true? Why does it feel like He often doesn’t?
It’s interesting to note that this story is about a widow and in Scripture, through Jeremiah the prophet, God says of Jerusalem–His bride: “How like a widow has she become,” Lamentations 1:1,
In the recent sermon “Keep Asking For Help Until…” Peter said,
When most folks ask a judge for justice, they are asking the judge to agree with their judgment. And if he doesn’t, they judge the judge to be unjust. They may even judge that justice is executing the judge. However, if you were to truly ask a judge for justice, you would actually desire his or her judgment, for you would trust that the judgment was just. And that’s how you’d gain knowledge of the good. You wouldn’t try to take the judgment and manipulate the judgment; you would receive the judgment because you had faith that the judge is good.
In prayer, we often ask for justice but when we are asking for it, we’re usually asking for our version of it. We’re OK with justice as long as it’s our definition of it. But what if God’s definition is different?
Is it possible that God–the Judge feels unjust to us because we’ve judged the Judge as unjust? Maybe we feel like a widow because we’ve chosen our judgment over His judgment, and in so doing murdered our husband (on a cross).
Does that make you feel ashamed, angry or annoyed?
Well, God has responded:
Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. –– Isaiah 54: 4-5
The widow says, “Give me vengeance (ekdikesis) against my (anti–dikos) adversary.”
We pray for vengeance, for justice, and often it feels like God is not answering. But maybe He is just not answering in the way we’ve judged He should. Because who is the woman’s adversary? Who is our adversary? Paul tells us that “we battle not against flesh and blood,” and Peter refers to “the accuser” as “our adversary,” and yet Scripture makes it clear that he has no power unless we believe his lies. So our real enemy is our own faithlessness, our fear. That means I am my own worst adversary. So, when I ask for justice against my adversary, I’m asking for justice–ekdikesis (Also translated as righteousness) in my place of shame.
It’s interesting to note how this word is used in other places in Scripture:” Don’t repay evil with evil . . . Dearly beloved, never ekdikeo yourselves – never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath (or passion) of God, for it is written, ekdikesis is mine, I will recompense, vengeance is mine.” Romans 12:19
Then Paul writes,
“Just be kind to your enemies and in doing so you will heap burning coals – (like brimstone) on their heads.” Romans 12:20
It is as if kindness IS the ekdikesis. As if the righteousness, justice, or vengeance of God is kindness!
So, in this story of the widow seeking justice, what might Jesus be saying about prayer?
Well, maybe He is trying to show us that when we cry out for justice–vengeance–righteousness on our adversary we might expect one thing and get another! And, in the end, we are really crying out for HIM, even if we don’t realize it. And He has already answered.
As Peter mentioned in his sermon:
It’s like the widow is complaining to justice that there is no justice.
It’s like she’s asking her helper to help her find her helper.
Because that’s what this widow really needs and wants.
She may not know it. She may be too ashamed to admit it.
She may be too proud to say it . . . even to herself . . .
She doesn’t really need or want money, a house, good credit, or reputation.
She cries out for justice-ekdikesis, but none of those things will vindicate her.
The only thing that will vindicate her . . . is her husband.
And the Judge answers speedily . . .
Actually, He answered long before she asked.
The Judge has been arranging all things so that she would ask.
The Judge is her Maker . . . and her Husband.
And now look to the judgment seat, for it is also a throne. He’s standing on a throne, as if He’d been slain, and RISEN FROM THE DEAD!
Now listen to His judgment: “Behold I make all things new. It is done. I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.” That’s Revelation 21: 5.
He’s speaking to His Bride. And that Bride is you.
So keep praying Bride of Christ. Keep asking for justice that YOU might see it, and know it, that you might see it and know Him! You are a widow no longer. Your murdered Groom has risen from the dead, and He has already responded!
This devotional was prepared by Peter’s assistant Kimberly Weynen.
Did you like what you read? This is just a taste of one of Peter’s full sermons.
To read the whole transcript and/or watch the sermon: https://relentless-love.org/sermons/keep-asking-until/