Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Observation: Jesus had in the previous chapter stirred an expectation that the end of the age would come suddenly: In Noah’s day the routines of life were interrupted in an instant by the closing of the ark’s door (17:26-27). Immediately after Lot left Sodom, its fate was sealed (17:28-29). Then Jesus told the disciples they should always pray and not give up, illustrating the point by the parable of the persistent widow whose repeated petitions finally prevail upon even an unrighteous judge.

Application: How often I have read Scripture wrongly, with a mindset of using it to meet my own needs, my own expectations? The “suddenlys” as illustrated by the ark’s closed door and Lot’s departure from Sodom seem to have about them an expectation of immediacy that is not in the text.

I understand these events hold horrible consequences for many. Anyone not on the ark will drown; those remaining in Sodom will burn. Those who have not fully entered into Christ will live in eternal damnation when He suddenly returns.

Yet though suddenlys and certainties are not the same thing, I often confuse the two. For example, over the long sweep of two thousand years His return has been so long delayed as to have become suspect to many. But the point of these passages is to stir me to pray. Constantly. Without giving up. Not because He is immediate in response to my petitions like a lapdog who eagerly jumps when summoned, but because His promises never fail. His part is not to leap for the treat of my approval like Rover for a biscuit; rather, the onus is mine to pray and, in praying, to never give up.

How easily I lose heart when my wish for a suddenly is wrecked against His certainty. While it is true that suddenlys do come, they are on His timetable, not mine. And the truly maddening thing about this reality is that God’s timetable is administered by One who lives outside of time. So I petition for a sudden deliverance from this or that affliction while He calls me to pray and to not lose heart. While I hold out the promise of a treat if He will but respond to my command to roll over or sit, He holds out the absolute assurance of faithfulness if I will but pray constantly and not give up. I am miserable in contemplating the gap between those two things.

Prayer: Lord, Your promise in Luke 18:7 is to bring about justice for Your chosen ones who cry out day and night. Forgive me for the times when my poor priorities have kept me from among Your chosen ones. Lead me today into decisions that put You first in all things.