The Simplicity of Prayer – It must be first for the waiting disciple
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
The preeminence of pray is in Jesus’ witness to the importance of praying. In Luke 18, Jesus gives one of the most riveting examples of perseverance in prayer leaving no question of His support of the preeminence of prayer to face a hostile world in which God’s people need to have patient endurance.
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (KJV)
This passage teaches us that we are disciples tasked with waiting for deliverance. We are not good at this.
The imagery in this passage is based upon the words “troubleth” and “weary.” The judge admits that the woman is troubling him. In other words, she is causing such a distraction from his peaceful existence that she is an irritation which he does not need. Her very existence and persistence is overwhelmingly unappreciated and impacting his life negatively.
The second word “weary” comes from two Greek words meaning “under the eye,” or “to hit under the eye.” She is so persistent that her assault on him is like one who causes a black eye as a result of the assault. The annoyance of her life is so compelling that it is like being struck in the face in a physical fight resulting in the face reflecting the action. Her struggle with him was so forceful that she troubled, possibly even, changing his countenance or making him “weary” looking.
The prominent thought of this passage is believer’s relentless struggle with God through prayer. It is not based on God’s lack of care for the believer. It is not because God wants to weary us. It is because he knows our sin nature. We do not appreciate what we do not strive to attain or maintain. His greatest love is shown in His demand that we pray for our substance exercising faith. This great struggle keeps us close to Him and fleeing the devil.
The struggle is simple, but so faith demanding. God wants our best and achieves it by giving us a spiritual struggle which has physical implications. We struggle in constant prayer. We struggle by specific prayer. We struggle by physical prayer. We struggle by faith-filled prayer. This struggle with God keeps the believer faithful while waiting for the Master’s return. “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING” is our struggle for God’s immense storehouse of wisdom, guidance, strength, and care in an uncaring world.
Jacob became Israel through the great struggle with God. It is compelling that Jacob’s desire for blessing is also the lament of Esau when Jacob stole the blessing from Isaac.
Genesis 32:24–28 (KJV 1900)
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.