Don’t Lose Heart: God Hears Your Prayers

Scripture Focus: Luke 18.1-8
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Reflection: Don’t Lose Heart: God Hears Your Prayers
By Dena Dyer

Jesus often elevated women in his circle and stories, which was unusual at least and scandalous at most. In fact, the parable of the persistent widow is a specific example of the respect Jesus brought to women (especially those who were mistreated, misunderstood, or vulnerable in some way). 

In this particular parable, the widow asked a judge over and over to grant her justice, to no avail. According to the laws of the time, the judge was required by law to give her a hearing–but he refused because he was unjust, uncaring, and unfair.

However, he eventually got tired of listening and gave in to the widow’s persistent pleas: “But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” (v. 4-5)    

Jesus says that God is the opposite of the judge—just, compassionate, and fair. He encourages his disciples to continue to make petitions, even when answers are not evident or immediate. 

I love this story, because somewhere along the line, I bought into the lie that God might view me as a pest if I prayed for a certain thing too much. I think it may have solidified for me when my boys were little and could “wear the horns off a Billy goat” (as we say in the South) asking for a toy or privilege.

God isn’t like us—or the unjust judge. He doesn’t grow weary of our prayers. Just listen to Isaiah 64:4 (NKJV): “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him.” 

Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT) encourages us: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

At the end of the parable, Jesus says that He longs to find faith on the earth. If He was going to discourage believers from praying too long and hard about something, that would have been the time. Instead, He related the story to urge his disciples to “pray and not give up” (v. 1).

Let’s not become weary of praying or lose heart, because if we are asking according to God’s will, He hears us and will answer in His time and way. Also, let’s be sure to seek what God seeks—like justice for those who have long been denied it–with determination and persistence. 

Finally, let’s act when He tells us to, because often prayer and action go together. After all, you and I may end up being the answer to someone’s prayers.

About Dena: Dena Dyer is an author of eleven books, including Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts with Tina Samples. She’s also a speaker, worship leader, Anglophile, and movie lover who lives with her husband, youngest son, and rescue pup near Fort Worth, Texas. In her day job, she serves as Executive Assistant to Jamie Aten, founder of Wheaton’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute. Find out more about Dena’s books and resources at her website or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Early in the morning, I cry out to you, for in your world is my trust. — Psalm 119.147

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 17 (Listen – 5:00)
2 Corinthians 10 (Listen -2:45)

Read more about Don’t Waste the Waiting
Do our prayers focus on us and our problems, or on what will draw us closer to the heart of Jesus? Or does weariness win over worship?

Read more about Praying Through Weeping—Guided Prayer
If prayer is relationship, then when God weeps, we should join. What friend would weep, whom we would not join in weeping.

Bearing Cursing

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 16.6-8, 9, 11-12
6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

Reflection: Bearing Cursing
By John Tillman

David fled Jerusalem before Absalom as one mourning, not as a king. Barefoot and weeping he climbed the Mount of Olives. (2 Samuel 15.30) David recognized that it was his sinfulness that was the root of all of this suffering. Perhaps it was this attitude that prepared David for the insults and mistreatment of Shimei.

There are moments in scripture when someone unintentionally prophesies. One is when the High Priest says regarding Jesus, “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11.50) Another is here along the road from Jerusalem where a relative of Saul hurls sticks and stones, as well as hurtful words at David.

David seems stung more by Shimei’s words than his stones. Shimei called David a murderer or a “man of blood.” Shimei’s statements are at least partly true. The murder of Uriah must have risen in David’s thoughts as he heard Shimei’s insults and his celebration of his circumstances. David apparently recognized in them an echo of Nathan’s prophecy that “the sword will never depart from your house.” (2 Samuel 12.10)

As he rebuked Abishai, who wanted to kill Shimei, David confirmed that, at least in David’s mind, God was the one sending these insults, sticks, stones, and clods of dirt.

We are all going to face some Shimei-like treatment from time to time. Whether we think we deserve it or not, even half-truths that are unfair, insulting, or hurtful can be learned from. David doesn’t engage with Shimei or try to win him over. He recognized that it was natural for someone from Saul’s family to not like him and to say mean things about him. David recognized that God could use what he was experiencing. 

David also did not hold Shimei’s actions against him. Later, when David returns, Shimei is the first to greet him and repents of what he said. David offers him forgiveness and again prevents Abishai from killing him.

Even if, as with Shimei, the insults are exaggerated or unfair, we can trust God with the outcome and not strike back in the same manner or worse. Rather than lashing out when cursed, may we seek consolation in God and humbly endure insults in the name of Jesus.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; I have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my good above all other.” — Psalm 16.1

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 16 (Listen – 4:03)
2 Corinthians 9 (Listen -2:26)

Read more about King on the Mountain, King on the Cross
They expected a king to banish the cursed outcasts and sinners. He brought them in and blessed them.

Read more about In the Face of Mockery and Shame
The mockery of the passing crowds was not by accident, but part of the punishment’s design.

Like Father, Like Sons

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 13.13-14
13 “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

“He’d grown up just like me…my boy was just like me…” — “Cats in the Cradle, Harry Chapin Carpenter

Reflection: Like Father, Like Sons
By John Tillman

David’s sons turn out to be very much like him. Amnon becomes a carefully plotting rapist. Absalom becomes a murderer, a rebel, and a rapist as well. And that’s just a starter.

Nathan prophesied that David’s sins would “never leave his house.” (2 Samuel 12.10) So as we read of the history of the kings of Judah, we frequently find the sword cutting people down and women being abused.

David’s passing down of abuse and violence to his children is no surprise. Neither is the escalation of violence. We see a pattern of escalating evil laid out in Genesis. Evil grows from the taking of the fruit, to unreasonable anger, to the taking of Abel’s life. Then Cain’s descendant, Lamech, “takes” two wives (with implied violence) and multiplies Cain’s murderous ways. This escalating violence leads eventually to the destruction of the flood.

Sin always sets in motion more sin to follow. Often, the sins of fathers and mothers have lasting effects. Sometimes these can be self-replicating, damaging behaviors that are passed down through generations such as abuse, addictions, and other harmful actions. Sometimes they are consequences, debts, or mental or emotional handicaps that leave the next generation at a disadvantage.

The natural inheritance from David is not pure or holy. However, there is another heritage from David because there is another Son of David. Jesus came to be the son that David could never raise and the king that David could never be. The incarnation is God stepping in to fulfill all the commands and expectations God had for David’s dynasty. Jesus is the king David was supposed to be and fulfills all that David failed to do.

In Jesus, there is a new royal dynasty that inherits his footsteps of righteousness. We join this dynasty as siblings of Jesus, heirs together with him. (Romans 8.17; Galatians 3.29; Ephesians 3.6)

We have within us twin destinies from our twin dynasties. From David, we have lust and violence and power that takes for itself. From Jesus, we have love and service and righteousness, which is power that provides for the weak.

Who will deliver us from this body of death? (Romans 7.24-25) Jesus. We can be redeemed siblings, sons and daughters who are like God our Father as revealed by Jesus. 

May we humbly abdicate the throne of our lives and learn to allow Jesus’ power to flow through us, doing righteousness that we cannot do on our own.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out. — Psalm 65.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 13 (Listen – 6:39)
2 Corinthians 6 (Listen -2:31)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Samuel 14 (Listen – 5:57), 2 Corinthians 7 (Listen -2:58)
2 Samuel 15 (Listen – 6:06), 2 Corinthians 8 (Listen -3:25)

Read more about Two Lamechs, One Jesus
Cain’s Lamech multiplies violence. He is proud of being more violent than any other man.

Read more about Be Yoked to Christ, Not Politics
May no party or human leader be permitted to yoke us or Christ’s church to their cause.

Let’s Take a Walk

Scripture Focus: 2 Corinthians 5.6-7
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

From John: We look back on this post of Jon’s from 2019 today, as we celebrate that he has finally completed his quarantine after returning to Hong Kong from summer in the US. We thank God for his protection of the Polk family as they traveled in the US during this summer of Covid outbreaks and we walk in faith, believing that through the common grace of science, many will continue to be protected from infection. We also pray that those who still catch the virus will experience the additional grace of God’s healing and divine protection. Walking by “faith not fear” should not mean foolishness or recklessness but humility and graciousness before God.

Reflection: Let’s Take a Walk
By Jon Polk

The classic KJV translation of 2 Corinthians 5:7 is frequently quoted, cross-stitched and memorized: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Jews used this word walk as an idiom relating to how you live your life. We utilize a similar idea when we talk about our “Christian walk” or our “walk with God.” Our lives ought to be dependent on our faith, not on what we can see or comprehend.

Contrary to the popular phrase, faith is not about taking a “blind leap” but rather making steps towards God, following the path he lays out before us. Paul refers to confidence twice in this passage, implying that faith is not blind hope but is grounded in our trust in God.

Faith is confident movement towards the path that God has ahead for us. We may not see the path, but we have faith that the path exists. We may not see beyond the first step, but we take the first step in faith. We may not see all the reasons behind what God is calling us to do, but we have faith that he leads us as he does for a purpose.

On his first journey to China, the great British missionary Hudson Taylor traveled aboard a sailing vessel. As the ship neared the coast of New Guinea, the winds died out for a number of weeks. The ship began to drift dangerously towards the shore, at risk of running aground on the coral reefs leaving the crew to the mercy of the natives rumored to be cannibals.

The captain came to Taylor in desperation, asking him to pray for God to send wind. So Taylor and a few other men began to pray for a breeze. As they prayed, he went up on deck and asked the second mate to ready the mainsail. Initially, the mate resisted, not wanting to appear foolish in front of the crew, but Taylor insisted and he finally agreed. In the ensuing moments, a strong wind indeed came upon the ship and sailors scrambled all over the deck as the wind kicked in.

When you raise the sails in your life before you can even see the wind, you’re walking by faith.
So go take a walk. Not a walk based on what we can see in this earthly life but a walk by faith into the adventurous life God has for us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me… — Psalm 101.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 12 (Listen – 5:25)
2 Corinthians 5 (Listen -3:14)

Read more about Don’t Waste the Waiting
During one particularly long waiting season, after running ahead of God in various ways, I confessed my impatience and frustration.

Read more about Trust and Pursue God’s Promises
Fully trusting in God’s promises gives us the hope, strength, and courage to pursue those promises.

Ancient #MeToo Story

Scripture Focus: 2 Samuel 11:27
…But the thing David had done displeased the Lord

Reflection: Ancient #MeToo Story
By Erin Newton

Not long ago, my former youth minister was convicted of sexually abusing minors. My friends were victims. He was a spiritual leader, a person in authority. Girls believed he was safe. In reality, he manipulated that trust and abused his power. And for decades, it remained hidden.

Stories of abuse are difficult to read. Some misuse 2 Samuel 11 and place blame on Bathsheba for somehow enticing David to sin. The truth is, this is a story of the gross abuse of power. Although painful, it must be told.  

The story of David’s sin against Bathsheba is one filled with moments of moral failure and compounding sin. David neglected his military duty. Instead, he lusted after the unclothed, married woman he didn’t know. He inquired about her and wielded his authority, sending an invitation that could not be refused. Selfishly embracing sin, David slept with Bathsheba and sent her home. The incriminating results followed: Bathsheba was pregnant with his child. 

David schemed to create reasonable doubt that Uriah could be the father. In contrast to the sinfulness of the king, Uriah upheld his integrity and resisted the lure of comfort and pleasure. When these schemes failed, David organized Uriah’s death and secured the anonymity of his prior sin. Covetousness, adultery, lying, and murder — David, once a man after God’s own heart, was deeply entrenched in sin. 

The text does not indicate why David succumbed to this temptation. Some blame the corruption of power. Maybe it was bad company, spiritual apathy, or the unresolved temptation of lust. We can only conjecture, but it might be beneficial to meditate on how sin can be so easily embraced. No one is immune to sin. Sin is always crouching at the door. 

Recent investigations revealed that churches have been guilty of enabling abusive leaders and attempting to cover up sexual assaults. As with David, authority has been used as a tool to shift blame to the victim, silence any witnesses, or hide the crime in darkness. These schemes to preserve the image of the institution corrupt the witness for Christ. Where do we go from here? 

The next step must be to seek justice. The bold voice of Nathan was needed to bring the king to a place of repentance. Bathsheba deserved an advocate. We listen, we believe, and we speak out. Truth must be revealed in places where sin is hidden. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
How sweet are your words to my taste! They are sweeter than honey to my mouth. — Psalm 119.103

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 11 (Listen – 4:25)
2 Corinthians 4 (Listen -3:02)

Read more about Reflection: Have Mercy—Guided Prayer
David sinned against God by bringing harm to those God cared for, who included Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, and the entire nation.

Read more about From Shameless to Blameless
Did he not take vengeance, commit war crimes, commit adultery by taking multiple wives and concubines in addition to taking (and possibly raping) Bathsheba?

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