In Luke 18:1-8 we have the first of a pair of parables about prayer. In this case it is the persistent widow and the unjust judge. I am not going to talk about how to preach it, but rather think about some of the implications of the passage on us as preachers.
Here are three things that matter:
1. Prayer. This was a parable Jesus told to encourage people to pray and not give up. Simple enough. We know that persistence in prayer is a biblical idea. But for many of us, we don’t live with the pressures of survival and injustice that might nudge us to more persistent prayer. To be honest many of us live in the top 5-10 percent of the world’s wealthiest and the danger is that our comfort undermines our awareness of our need to pray. What’s more, as those involved in leadership and ministry we can easily let our prayer lives drift because of the constant demands on our time, ever-beeping technology, etc. Remember Acts 6:4 – church leadership, like the apostles, is primarily about the Word and prayer. We need to pray persistently.
2. View of God. This matters massively. Jesus used a totally ungodly judge to prove his point, then amplified his point with the character of God. Sadly, though, many think God is a lot like the judge in the story, only less persuadable. Our view of God is the most important thing that can be said about us. And the pressures of ministry, the struggles of interpersonal conflict, or even apparently unanswered prayer can secretly sour our view of God, even while we still preach good truth on Sundays. This parable says that your view of God really matters.
3. View of time. Following on from point 2, many of us can easily get so caught up in the present that we lose the eschatological edge that should cut through every situation we face. Jesus is coming back. Through busy lives, unhelpful “baby out with bathwater” theological reactions to sensational teaching, and a lack of attention to Scripture, we can easily start to think that today is as predictable as yesterday, and that there is no radically different tomorrow to influence how we live and how we pray. But there is a different today that comes from living in light of that tomorrow that will come when Jesus returns. Will we remain faithful: trusting and praying for situations that seem so unjust, and looking for his coming?
There’s plenty more that could be added, please do so in the comments below!