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Luke 18:1-8

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and 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 by her continual coming.' " And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"(ESV)
Persistence in Prayer
Thursday of Easter 7
12 May 2016
The trouble, trial, and persecution we face all demand that we fall to our knees in prayer and set before our heavenly Father our desperate needs. These keep our prayers from being an "Oh, by the way" conversation with God. There can be nothing perfunctory about our petitions when we are struggling with persecution or the trouble of everyday life and its burdens. Our troubles will compel us constantly to assail God in prayer telling Him of our burdens, just as we would repeatedly reveal our burdens to a dear friend when such loads weigh us down. We can't help but talk about our troubles.
I believe that more aggressive persecution will befall those who confess Christ in the near future. We can feel the oppression of culture and government in our chests pressing down with ever greater pressure. We want things to return to the way they were before when government and culture at least remained neutral toward our Christian faith. Those days are over. However, we should neither be surprised by this nor despair because of it. We are actually not experiencing something unusual or unexpected when we undergo persecution for the sake of Christ. Persecution of our faith is the norm, not the exception. Jesus warns His disciples, "They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you" (Jn 16:2-4). The Apostle Peter encourages us to embrace the suffering of persecution, "Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1Pt 4:12-14).
The conditions of persecution require persistence in prayer. This is why the Lord invites us to pray with repetitive perseverance, "ask, seek, knock." Sometimes he enforces His will by sending us that about which will have no choice but to ask, seek, and knock, over and over again. Seldom are the troubles that plague us resolved swiftly and easily after a single petition. The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh will see to that, even if the Lord does not. Persistence in prayer is the norm, not the exception.


Martin Luther

"Why does Christ use so many words (in Mt 7:7)? He lists three items: 'Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.' One would have been enough. It is evident, as has been said, that by this He intends to admonish us even more strongly to pray. He knows that we are timid and shy, that we feel unworthy and unfit to present our needs to God. We feel the needs, but we cannot express them. We think that God is so great and we are so tiny that we do not dare to pray. This, too, is a great hindrance from the devil, and it does great damage to prayer. That is why Christ wants to lure us away from such timid thoughts, to remove our doubts, and to have us go ahead confidently and boldly.
"Though I am unworthy, I am still His creature; and since He has made me worthy of being His creature, I am also worthy of receiving what He has promised and so generously offered to me. In other words, if I am unworthy, He and His promise are not unworthy. You can venture on this vigorously and trustfully, you can put it in His lap joyfully and confidently. But above all, be sure that you really believe in Christ and that you have a proper occupation, one that pleases God, so that you are not like the world, which does not care about its occupation but only about the vices and the villainy that it goes right on planning day and night.
"It would be possible to interpret the three statements to mean that He is repeating the same thing in different words to point to that constancy in prayer about which St. Paul admonishes: 'Be constant in prayer' (Rm 12:12). Then it would be equivalent to His saying: 'It is not enough just to begin and to sigh once, to recite a prayer and then to go away. As your need is, so should your prayer be. Your need does not attack you once and then let you go. It hangs on, it falls around your neck again, and it refuses to let go. You act the same way! Pray continually, and seek and knock, too, and do not let go.'
"This is the lesson of the parable in Luke 18 about the widow (Lk 18:1-8). She was so persistent and importunate in her refusal to let go of the judge that he was overpowered and had to help her in spite of himself. How much more, Christ argues there (Luke 18:7), will God give us if He sees that we do not stop praying but go right on knocking so that He has to hear it? This is all the more so because He has promised to do so and shows that such persistence is pleasing to Him. Since your need goes right on knocking, therefore, you go right on knocking, too, and do not relent. For you have His Word, and He will have to say: 'All right, then, you may have what you want.' St. James speaks of this in his Epistle when he says (Jm 5:16): 'The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working' if it is serious and persistent; and in support of this he cites the example from the Scriptures of the prophet Elijah (Jm 5:16, 17). By urging you not only to ask but also to knock, God intends to test you to see whether you can hold on tight, and to teach you that your prayer is not displeasing to Him or unheard, simply because His answer is delayed and you are permitted to go on seeking and knocking."

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, 7.11
O Lord, You have invited me to assail Your throne even though I am unworthy. I implore You to keep Your promises to me. When I ask You give, when I seek You find, when I knock You answer. Make me bold by Your Spirit to ask, seek, and knock. Amen.
For the catechumens who will be confirmed in their faith, confessing the Christ into whom they were baptized, that they might be kept steadfast in the Word of God
For husbands and wives, that they might live in harmony in their marriages and show to the world the love of Christ for His bride the church
For Mary Lewis, that she might find strength from her heavenly Father for a full recovery
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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