(v1) “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” And with one simple sentence, Luke has my attention.
They should always pray and never give up. Always and never are absolutes. They have a finality to them. Always is absolute; often is not. Never is absolute; rarely is not. Always pray. Jesus teaches the importance of persistence with our prayers. It’s not that God doesn’t hear our prayers the first time, instead, I think that by praying constantly, we are acting in faith.
When we believe and we cry out to God day and night, we are placing our trust in Him. We have faith that He can answer our prayers. The widow in this story believed that the judge could bring her justice. And with constant requests, the judge relented!
Whatever you’re struggling with, or whatever aches your heart. Take it to God in prayer. Never give up! Think of Abraham and Sarah, Hannah, and the Israelites. When we cry out to God and we don’t give up, God answers!
Continuing his teaching about prayer, Jesus offers the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (v9-14). In one corner, we have a Pharisee, who for all rights, should know the proper way to pray and seek the Lord. In the other corner, we have a tax collector, who for all rights, should not. The tax collector in this parable is brutal. He openly insults and mocks the tax collector, “thanking God” that he is certainly not like the tax collector.
Could you imagine someone praying a prayer like this? Could you imagine being the target of such a prayer? I can. Time to get personal.
Years ago, I struggled with an addiction. It’s not something I’m proud of or thankful for having, it nearly destroyed my life, but I am grateful that God delivered me from that addiction. During the time where I was still learning how to rely on God, addiction came up in conversation with another person. They had no idea what I was going through at the time, and they said some very hateful things about anyone who had an addiction. They wrapped it up with “Thank God I’ve never had that problem, I don’t know how I could live with myself.” Cut. Deep.
I can relate to the tax collector in verse 13. I have let my head drop, not daring to open my eyes because I knew that I wasn’t worthy. I have, on many occasions, asked God to be merciful to me, because I am a sinner.
I have learned through experiences like the one I just mentioned that it is not the other person’s fault. They said something that hurt, yes, but they said it out of a lack of understanding. They have no experience of the pains that I and many others have gone through, and they spoke out of that lack of experience. I am thankful that they haven’t had those same struggles or pains.
The most important point, and the one that Jesus is focusing on here is that we need to be wary of ‘exalting ourselves.’ We are no better than the next person. Your sin is not better than my sin, and my sin is not better than your sin. We are all sinners saved by grace, through the glorious mercy and love of Jesus Christ. And that is a reason to always pray, and never give up!