Luke 18:1-8

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

December 12, 2001

:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

ought dei – it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper

alwayspantote – at all times, always, ever

to prayproseuchomai – to offer prayers, to pray

to faint ekkakeo (“in” + “evil” = “not to give in to evil”) – to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted

(Luke 18:1 NASB)  …and not to lose heart,

(Luke 18:1 NLT)  …and to show them that they must never give up.

(Luke 18:1 ICB)  …and never lose hope.


What is prayer?

Jesus said that it is necessary that we ALWAYS pray.
1.  Prayer is talking to God.
(Mat 6:5-6 KJV)  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. {6} But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Jesus isn’t saying that we should never pray with other people or that we shouldn’t pray out loud.  His whole point is that we ought to be praying to God.

Sometimes when we pray in front of other people, we can fall into a trap of praying “to the people” than praying to God.  Sometimes we can find ourselves trying to “send a message” to someone in the group with our prayer.

Jesus told us that when we pray we ought to address our prayers to God – “Our Father which art in heaven…”

2.  It’s the heart that counts, not the words.
(Mat 6:7 KJV)  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Memorized prayers – I think that it’s okay to know some memorized prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer.  But if the words are just words and don’t mean anything to you, there’s no value.

I think we can also fall into a trap of thinking that if we keep going on and on and on with our prayer, that somehow that is more spiritual.

(James 5:16-18 NLT)  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. {17} Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! {18} Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.

It’s earnest prayer coming from a heart that is right that will impress God.

Elijah himself is a great example of the power of prayer, not because of his long prayers, but because of his fervent prayers.

Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.  They all got together and agreed to each ask their “god” to send fire to consume their sacrifice.  The prophets of Baal yelled and danced all day long.

(1 Ki 18:26-29 KJV)  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. {27} And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. {28} And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. {29} And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

When Elijah’s time came, he built an altar, soaked everything in water just to show everyone that everything was on the up and up, and then he prayed.

(1 Ki 18:36-38 KJV)  And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. {37} Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. {38} Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

3.  Prayer is not about “informing” God
(Mat 6:8 KJV)  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Sometimes we fall into thinking that we have to tell God allllllll about our needs.  We will go into deep detail as we pray, as if we are telling God something He didn’t know.  Perhaps we have this idea that God is frantically taking notes because the things we’re telling Him are “new” to Him.  Not so.

4.  Prayer involves yielding to God’s will
(Mat 6:9-10 KJV)  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. {10} Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

One of the goals in prayer is to see that the things on earth become conformed to God’s will.  It is not about demanding that our will be done, but His will be done.  The goal of prayer is not to shape the world a little more into the picture that we want it to be, but to be a part of seeing things work out the way that God wants them to be.

It is not a lack of faith to say, “if it be Your will”.  This is exactly what we’re supposed to say.

5.  Prayer involves asking for needs
(Mat 6:11 KJV)  Give us this day our daily bread.

Even though we don’t need to inform God about what our needs are, God does want us to ask. 

Why do we need to ask when He already knows what we need? 

God wants us to learn to come to Him and depend upon Him to meet our needs.  He wants us to see the connection of being in need and seeing Him respond and meet our needs.  He wants us to learn to depend upon Him.

Somehow, God withholds some things because He is waiting for us to come to Him and ask Him for them.

(James 4:2 KJV)  …yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

Our lives will start to run the way God intends them to run when we learn to depend upon Him.


Suppose you looked at the gas gage in your car and saw that you were beginning to run out of fuel.  Even though the gas prices are pretty low right now, you decide to save a few bucks and fill up your gas tank with something else.  So you park the car in the front yard, pull out the garden hose, and fill your tank with water.  Will your car run very well?  I don’t think so.

We were designed to run best when our tanks are filled with the things of God, when our lives are dependent upon Him.

6.  Prayer involves confession of sin
(Mat 6:12-13a KJV)  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

If we are truly praying to God, if we are truly aware of His presence as we are praying, we will realize our great need for forgiveness.

Sin is the very thing that will cut off our communication with God.

(Isa 59:1-2 KJV)  Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

If we expect God to hear our prayers, then we need to keep “clean” with Him.  We need to not try and pretend that our sins aren’t there.  We need to confess our sins, turn from them, and receive His forgiveness.

7.  Prayer involves worship and adoration
(Mat 6:13b KJV)  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

We talked a few weeks ago about the ten lepers who were healed, but only one returned to give thanks (Luke 17:11-19).  Our time of talking with God ought to always include thanks, praise, and adoration.

I believe there is a sense in which we are able to experience God’s presence in our lives in a greater measure as we learn to honestly and sincerely give Him praise.

(Psa 22:3 KJV)  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

(Psa 22:3 ICB)  You sit as the Holy One. The praises of Israel are your throne.

I think that as we praise Him, we experience His presence, He is King on the throne in our lives.


Prayer is the answer to fainting

I think we all get to the point in our lives where we just want to quit. 
Sometimes it’s because our life’s circumstances are quite difficult.
For some, we can become despondent even when there is great success –

Spurgeon:  called to a church at 16, addressing crowds of 5000 at 20.  He wrote this:

Before any great achievement in my life, some measure of depression is very usual.  Such was my experience when I first became a pastor in London; my success appalled me and the thought of that career which seemed to be opening up, so far from elating me, cast me into the lowest depths out of which I uttered my misery.  I found no room for a Gloria in Excelsis.

Who was I that I should continue to lead so great a multitude?  I would slip away to my village obscurity or prefer to emigrate to American and find a solitary nest in the backwoods.

It was just then that the curtain was rising on my greatest life's work and I dreaded what it might reveal to me.  I hope I was not faithless!  But I was timorous and filled with a sense of my own unfitness.  This depression sweeps over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my life and ministry.

Jesus says that the antidote to “fainting” is praying.
(Isa 40:28-31 KJV)  Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. {29} He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. {30} Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: {31} But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I think this idea of “waiting” on the Lord is not the “cheap praying”, when we throw quick, meaningless prayers up at God, but the kind of prayers that come from our hearts, prayers that cry out to God, prayers that are based on our trusting Him.

Part of praying is learning to “wait”.  Not only do we want to pour out our hearts to the Lord, but we want to learn to wait on Him.  We want to learn to trust in Him.  We want to learn to depend upon Him.

:2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

Note:  Keep in mind, Jesus is telling us a parable here.  A parable is a story that is intended to teach a lesson.  The point of the parable is not to find deep symbolism in every single detail.  Don’t try to interpret small details like, “what does the city represent?” or things like that.  Instead look for the overall point that Jesus is trying to make.

a judgekrites – one who passes or arrogates to himself, judgment on anything

fearedphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

neither regarded entrepo – to shame one; to be ashamed; to reverence a person; to turn about

(Luke 18:2 NLT)  …with great contempt for everyone.

(Luke 18:2 NIV)  …nor cared about men.

(Luke 18:2 ICB)   …He also did not care what people thought about him.

A.T. Robertson – This was a “hard-boiled” judge who knew no one as his superior.

:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

a widow chera – a widow.  Keep in mind, in Jesus’ day, a widow was just about the most defenseless, powerless, least influential person there was.


Prayer comes out of need

Many of our best prayers are related to our sense of need.  The greater we recognize our need for God’s help, the “better” our prayers.


Rebecca Batton, (Charlottesville, Virginia.  Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom.") writes,
When school closed due to Hurricane Fran, my husband and I went to pick up two of his grandchildren. We returned home to discover a tree across our driveway and no electricity.
The children usually like to play on the computer and watch television when they visit, but since that was not an option, we decided to list some things we could do without power. I was thrilled when eight-year-old Whitney suggested, “I know what we can do. We can pray.”
“What should we pray for?” I asked.
Six-year-old Dustin quickly said, “Electricity!”

she came – imperfect tense, she was continually coming.

avenge ekdikeo – to vindicate one’s right, do one justice; to protect, defend, one person from another; to avenge a thing; to punish a person for a thing

adversary antidikos – opponent; an opponent in a suit of law; an adversary, enemy

The idea is that this woman was having some type of trouble with another person.  I would imagine that someone is trying to take advantage of the widow’s situation.  She is asking this judge to help her.

:4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

wouldthelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure.  We could say, “he didn’t have the will …”

This is an “imperfect” tense, meaning that he continually didn’t have the desire to do anything to help this woman.

:5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

troubleth – two words

parecho – to reach forth, offer; to give, bring, cause one something either favourable or unfavourable, to occasion

kopos – a beating; a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow; labour; trouble; to cause one trouble, make work for him

We could say, “because she is causing me so much grief …”

avengeekdikeo – to vindicate one’s right, do one justice; to protect, defend, one person from another; to avenge a thing; to punish a person for a thing

weary hupopiazo – to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots; metaph. to give one intolerable annoyance; beat one out, wear one out.  Some have suggested that the judge is afraid the woman is going to come and beat him up.

The judge is tired of being bothered by this woman, so he will help her because of her continual coming.

:6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

Pay attention to what this unjust judge is saying.

:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

avenge – two words –

poieo – to make; to do

ekdikesis – a revenging, vengeance, punishment

which cryboao – to raise a cry, of joy pain etc.; to cry, speak with a high, strong voice; to cry to one for help, to implore his aid

bear longmakrothumeo – to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart; to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish

Some of the translations have it this way

(Luke 18:7 NASB)  …and will He delay long over them?
(Luke 18:7 NLT)  …Will he keep putting them off?

God is not like the unjust Judge who doesn’t care a hoot about anyone else.  God will pay attention to His people.

:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

speedilytachos – quickness, speed

whenara – a Greek interrogative particle that implies anxiety or impatience on the part of the questioner

I think the idea is, will Jesus find people who are coming to Him in prayer?  Will He find people who will trust Him enough to be praying?

What’s the whole point of the parable?

Is Jesus trying to tell us that God is some cranky old guy who doesn’t care about anyone but Himself, and if we just bother Him enough, He’ll pay attention to us so we’ll leave Him alone?

The idea is this – If a cranky, selfish old judge will answer a widow because she continues to ask for help, HOW MUCH MORE will God pay attention to His people, whom He loves and cares for?


Don’t stop praying.

Jesus told a similar story in –
(Luke 11:5-10 KJV)  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; {6} For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? {7} And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. {8} I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. {9} And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. {10} For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

importunityanaideia – shamelessness, impudence

Again, the idea isn’t that we are “bothering” God.  The idea is that we need to keep praying.

The Associated Press carried an interesting story about a group of post office customers who succeeded in speeding up some slow-moving service.  One man said, “It was like watching grass grow.” There were 26 patrons jammed into two lines.  They realized they weren’t getting enough attention, so a 73-year-old man organized the group.  In an uncommon show of unity, the 26 shouted together, “We want service!” Two minutes later, another clerk ambled out and without cracking a smile said, “Next?”  Well, the 26 knew they were on to something, so they tried it again. You guessed it, one more clerk appeared.  An amused customer summed up the situation like this: “I got through that line in 4 minutes.  I’ve never seen anything like it!”
This doesn’t mean we become obnoxious or disrespectful with God.  NOT AT ALL!  But the whole point is to say to us, “Keep asking!”