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.

Preparing for Joy

Scripture Focus: Luke 18-11-14
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Reflection: Preparing for Joy
By Norman Wirzba

In Orthodox theological traditions, Christians are invited into the season of Lent as a time to prepare for joy. Lenten worship instructs us to begin with rejoicing:

“Let us begin the Fast with joy.
Let us give ourselves to spiritual efforts.
Let us cleanse our souls.
Let us cleanse our flesh.
Let us fast from passions as we fast from foods,
taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit 
and accomplishing them in love
that we all may be made worthy to see the passion of Christ our
God
and His Holy Pascha, rejoicing with spiritual joy.” 
— from the vespers liturgy for Forgiveness Sunday

This emphasis on joy may surprise us, and perhaps even strike some of us as perverse, because we are accustomed to think of Lenten observance as a time of deprivation, a time when we give up or say “No” to a host of things and activities we otherwise love. How can we be expected to rejoice in the giving up of things that give us joy?

Lent can be our preparation for joy because it is the concentrated and disciplined time when we work together to root out the blindness and deception that prevent us from receiving each other as gracious gifts from God. It is a necessary time for Christians because without it we run the risk of experiencing what can only be termed a false joy, a ‘joy’ that has been rendered false by the anxiety, hubris, and destruction that make it possible.

True joy is freedom from fear and alienation. Real joy is knowing that we are loved and nurtured. Lenten practices like fasting prepare us for joy because they turn our self-serving into self-offering ways that nurture, celebrate, and share the gifts of God.

Lent teaches us that far too often we live a counterfeit life. It shows us that we have settled for a poor and degraded version of the real thing, which is life in its vibrant freshness and abundance. In the face of a culture that encourages us to neglect, degrade, and abuse each other, Lent invites us to see ourselves and our world clearly, humbly, and truly. Moved beyond the stifling scope of our worry, fear, and petty desires, we can finally be opened to receive the blessings of God.

*Selections quoted from Preparing for Joy in Christian Reflection.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice. — Psalm 55.18

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Exodus 15  (Listen -4:11)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:27)

Read more about Joy in The Way of the Cross
The book is full of joy, I know, but it is also full of pain, and pain is taken for granted. “Think it not strange. Count it all joy.” We are meant to follow his steps, not avoid them.

Read more about Fasting for All
Fasting may be the most important spiritual discipline for the church to focus on in the next decade.

Preparing for Joy

Luke 18-11-14
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

From John:
As we move into the season of Lent this week, we will look at selections from Christian writers about Lent and fasting. May we enter Lent together—expectant, hopeful, humble, and…joyful.

Reflection: Preparing for Joy
By Norman Wirzba

In Orthodox theological traditions, Christians are invited into the season of Lent as a time to prepare for joy. Lenten worship instructs us to begin with rejoicing:

“Let us begin the Fast with joy.
Let us give ourselves to spiritual efforts.
Let us cleanse our souls.
Let us cleanse our flesh.
Let us fast from passions as we fast from foods,
taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit
and accomplishing them in love
that we all may be made worthy to see the passion of Christ our God
and His Holy Pascha, rejoicing with spiritual joy.” (from the vespers liturgy for Forgiveness Sunday)

This emphasis on joy may surprise us, and perhaps even strike some of us as perverse, because we are accustomed to think of Lenten observance as a time of deprivation, a time when we give up or say “No” to a host of things and activities we otherwise love. How can we be expected to rejoice in the giving up of things that give us joy?

Lent can be our preparation for joy because it is the concentrated and disciplined time when we work together to root out the blindness and deception that prevent us from receiving each other as gracious gifts from God. It is a necessary time for Christians because without it we run the risk of experiencing what can only be termed a false joy, a ‘joy’ that has been rendered false by the anxiety, hubris, and destruction that make it possible. True joy is freedom from fear and alienation. Real joy is knowing that we are loved and nurtured. Lenten practices like fasting prepare us for joy because they turn our self-serving into self-offering ways that nurture, celebrate, and share the gifts of God.

Lent teaches us that far too often we live a counterfeit life. It shows us that we have settled for a poor and degraded version of the real thing, which is life in its vibrant freshness and abundance. In the face of a culture that encourages us to neglect, degrade, and abuse each other, Lent invites us to see ourselves and our world clearly, humbly, and truly. Moved beyond the stifling scope of our worry, fear, and petty desires, we can finally be opened to receive the blessings of God.

*Selections quoted from Preparing for Joy in Christian Reflection.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lord, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence. — Psalm 88.1-2

Today’s Readings
Exodus 15 (Listen – 4:11)
Luke 18 (Listen – 5:27)

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Read more about Binging on Fasting
In a culture obsessed with consumption, lack of it, even for a short period, stands out. But just because our culture recognizes that fasting is a spiritual practice doesn’t mean we understand it.

Read more about Joy in The Way of the Cross
The book is full of joy, I know, but it is also full of pain, and pain is taken for granted. “Think it not strange. Count it all joy.” We are meant to follow his steps, not avoid them.

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