Jump Start # 3453
Luke 18:1 “Now he was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,”
We continue our thoughts about prayer. In Luke 18, Jesus tells two parables about prayer. The first parable, which is commonly called the persistent widow, is about staying with prayer and not giving up. The second story, about the two men in the temple praying, shows the importance of humbleness and heart in our prayers.
Our verse today sets forth the principle that Jesus wants us to carry through in our lives, “at all times they ought to pray.” All times. In good times and in hard times. When it is easy and when it is not. When there is so much to pray about and when the list seems rather short. Even when we look forward to praying and when we don’t feel like praying. Pray when there is health in your body and pray when that health is failing. Pray when you have money in your pocket and pray when you are not sure how you are going to pay the bills. Pray when the kids are doing well and pray when the kids are not doing well. Pray for self. Pray for others.
That “all times,” simply means, all times. In Thessalonians we find, “in everything give thanks.” That’s equally as hard to do as “in all times.” It’s easy to give thanks for blessings. It’s hard to give thanks for trials.
There are some lessons that we ought to learn from praying at all times.
First, as the passage bears out, when we aren’t praying, we lose heart. That expression “lose heart,” means to be discouraged. The problems overwhelm us. We run out of options and open doors. Things look bad and we begin to feel bad. “Have you prayed about it, “ is a great reminder when we worry, doubt and become discouraged. Have we? We have thought about the problem. We have fretted over the problem. We have likely told others about the problem. But have we taken it to the Lord in prayer?
The more we cast it to Heaven, the less we carry ourselves. Problems become lighter when God is carrying them. Losing heart is just a step before giving up. And, people do that. They quit jobs. They quit marriages. They quit church. They quit life. And, the running thread connecting all of those is discouragement. It may be expectations and realty didn’t match. It could be that people let us down by promising things that they did not deliver on. But, losing heart and the failure to pray much too often are felt at the same time.
Second, when one prays, one no longer feels alone nor do they feel that they have to find all the answers. God is there. God helps. God knows. But, when one loses heart, he feels all alone and abandoned. No one understands. No one cares. No one comes. That’s the three verse song of discouragement.
Third, the “at all times” expression reminds us to be thankful when God has helped us. We have prayed. A problem was worked through. The sun shines again in our lives. If not careful, we go on and we fail to thank God. God was there. God helped. We remained close to God. Turning to God in troubles is natural for the disciple of Christ. But, turning to God with that thankful heart because the troubles are over, is harder to do.
At all times, be praying. Be praying at home. Be praying as you travel. Be praying at school. Be praying as you eat. Be praying at work. Be praying in worship. And before long, that “at all times,” takes care of explaining the expression, “Pray without ceasing.” Now, we get it. Now, we understand. We are talking to God often throughout the day. Simple prayers. Deep prayers. Short prayers. Long prayers.
At all times, pray.