Why do we pray?
- To say thank you to God
- To reset ourselves when everything around us is fallen apart and we are asking for God’s help.
- To acknowledge we depend on our Lord
- To keep our relationship alive and to align ourselves with God.
- We pray and to never let go
In our Collect for this morning, we prayed that “we may persevere with steadfast faith”. Therefore, what is faith? And how do we define faith?
Faith can be defined as complete trust or confidence in someone on something. Faith can also be defined as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
So how resilient are we during adversity? What does it mean to be a Christian and be resilient?
How persistent are we in our prayers to God?
Psalm 119 we read from this morning is the longest psalm in the Bible; however, it contains verses that have inspired the daily rhythm of prayer for millions of Christians throughout history who have committed their entire lives to prayer.
Let us look at verse 164, the psalmist says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous judgment”
In verse 62, the psalmist says, “In the middle of the night, I rise to give you thanks”.
Personally, I like psalm 51, when trying to put myself in the presence of God. Let us look at verses 8-13;
- Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.
- Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the body you have broken may rejoice.
- Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquities,
- Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,
- Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
- Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your Holy bountiful Spirit
In our, Gospel reading this morning the disciples of Jesus are getting anxious that something is about to happen, and Jesus is encouraging them to pray and not to lose hope and have faith.
So, Jesus told them a parable of a persistent widow. In those days when a woman becomes a widow, she lost mostly all her basic rights because no one would stand up for her defense or protect her. Most widows became beggars and poor. This widow persisted in her pursuit of justice from an unjust judge. This judge did not care for God or people for that matter. The widow asked the judge to side with her against her adversaries. The judge initially denied her request, but she would not take a no for an answer. She kept visiting the judge repeatedly making her request.
Her persistence call for justice is such that the judge felt if he did not grant the widow her request, she will make him look bad. The judge is concerned about his reputation and not getting a black eye. The judge did not want any part of this widow no more. He said this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming, because this widow causes trouble for me, I will give her justice.
Sometimes when things are tough, it is not easy to be a resilient Christian, but we must have faith and hope in Christ.
Last week a good friend of mine contacted me and asked me some questions, his daughter is sick. I followed up with him the following day. During our conversation, he told me that he lost his mother years back and she is the only one he runs to when things are good, because he wants her to know so she can be proud of him and when things are not good, she is there to support him and gives him advise but she is now gone. When his mother died, he has a sister and they are close, so he now has the comfort of his sister. A couple of weeks ago his sister died unexpectedly. He said that all his comfort zones have been taken away and no one to turn to and wonders if God is even listening to his prayers. Now he is afraid of losing his daughter.
We talked for a long time and discussed the importance of prayer and not giving up on praying to God. Our conversation triggers mine as well. I told him that we are both in the same situation because I lost my parents and my little sister a long time ago but losing my only brother two years ago really shook me up. I am blessed for the support of my wife and children during the rough time and sometimes it is still rough. I made sure he was good before we hung up the phone, in that we talked about old times.
Grieving the loss of a loved one never goes away, it is through God’s Grace and the support of family and friends that people get through it.
There are human tendencies to lose hope in these types of situations. Especially, when our expectation does not meet reality.
Have we even considered that we are praying for something that will eventually hurt us and God did not answer the prayer because He sees everything and knows everything? I can admit that several times I have prayed for something, and God did not answer the prayer and I was upset about it. Times go by and an event occurred, and I reassess my prayers and come back to thank God for not answering that prayer because the outcome of it might not be good for me.
We set a timeline for our prayers and feel that God is not listening to us. There are times we pray but nothing changes, does it mean that God is not hearing us? God is with us all the time he is listening and will answer us when it is good for us.
My wife got some decoration plaques around our home.
- Faith is not believing that God can – It is knowing that He will
- The will of God will never leave you where the grace of God cannot keep you.
- When things go wrong as they sometimes will when the road, you’re trudging seems all uphill when you’re feeling low and the stress is high and you want to smile but you have to sign, when worries are getting you down a bit….by all means, pray – and don’t quit
Success is failure turned inside out God’s hidden gift in the cloud of doubt, you never can tell how close you are – it may be near when it seems so far.
So, trust in the Lord when you are hardest hit ….
It is when things go wrong that you must not quit
All I read to you now is about encouraging us to be persistent in our prayers and to put our hope in Christ. It is about holding on to our faith. We all get tested, and it is part of life.
I encourage us to put ourselves in God’s presence and when we make it our steadfast purpose to be in his presence, we would be surprised by what God will do through us. We need to go to the source of life which is to be in God’s presence and be persistent in our prayers.
Do we remember the story of Jacob and the Angel in the Old Testament? When Jacob realized that he was in the presence of God with the Angel he held strong to the Angel and would not let him go until the Angel blessed him. Therefore, we need to hold on to our faith and our hope in Jesus Christ.
Prayer is a conversation with God. When we pray, it is the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Our God is always communicating with us. However, we are not always listening.
Jesus uses the widow in his parable to model faith and prayers. The widow’s weapon is persistence.
In today’s Gospel reading we established two characters from the parable in Luke.
- We have the persistent widow who is looking for justice.
- We have the unjust judge who respects neither God nor anyone. He is in an executive position in a chair of superiority
Which of these two characters can we easily relate to? It will be easy for us to relate to the widow because of our experiences.
However, has it done on us that we are the unjust judge sitting in the executive position in a chair of superiority, and God is the widow begging us and persistently asking us for justice?
As Christians, we are to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. Our God is asking us to do that, but how often do we appear deaf or are too busy to act?
As a Christian in an authority position or influence in the community, how often do we use our position or influence to ensure justice, fairness for all and stand up for the oppressed?
I encourage us to use our position and influence to do good in our communities.
Based on my professional experience, I can guarantee you this, put children from any part of this world together in a single room, if you go back and check the room, you will find them working together as a team, supporting each other except if an adult teaches them otherwise. They would work together to solve every problem that you give to them. That is what we need to be, we need to go back and emulate being the children of the world again we need to be people who believed in love, faith, kindness, and caring for our neighbors, and together we can make a difference in the world.
God is the one continually asking us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
Brothers and sisters, it took faith not to lose heart and hope in a just God. When the time comes in our lives when we feel helpless, we do not know where to turn or from where to seek help, when we feel that our prayers go unanswered. I encourage us to listen to our inner peace because, God is speaking to us and telling us, to stand firm in our faith, and challenging us to persist in prayers. He hears us and He will answer our prayers in His own time when it is good for us and not on our timeline.
God is telling us this morning, I see you, I believe you, I am with you, your pain is my pain, so keep praying every day. Persist in your prayers and persevere, Our Lord is beside you.
Our God is constant and always the same, and He is with us amid our struggles, and He hears us.
Therefore, let us put our trust in the Lord, believe in Him, pray for everyone and make it our steadfast purpose to be in God’s presence.