Pray Through to God’s Breakthrough | Luke 18:1-8

Parable

Have you ever given up praying for a situation before getting an answer from God? In this message, John Elmore teaches through The Parable of the Persistent Widow and shares why we are to always pray and not lose heart.

John ElmoreAug 6, 2023Luke 18:1-8
Luke 18:1-8

In This Series (11)
Pray Through to God’s Breakthrough | Luke 18:1-8
John ElmoreAug 6, 2023Luke 18:1-8
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector | Luke 18:9-14
Blake HolmesJul 30, 2023Luke 18:9-14
Don’t Waste Your Life | Matthew 25:14-30
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 23, 2023Matthew 25:14-30
The Forgiven Forgive | Matthew 18:21-35
John ElmoreJul 16, 2023
A Warning to Rule Followers | Luke 15:25-32
Timothy "TA" AteekJul 9, 2023Luke 15:25-32
The Forgiving Father and His Two Lost Sons: The Prodigal Son | Luke 15:1-32
John ElmoreJul 2, 2023Luke 15:1-32
Which Soil Are You? | Matthew 13:1-9
Marvin WalkerJun 25, 2023
The Path to Being Built Different | Matthew 7:24-27
Jermaine HarrisonJun 18, 2023Matthew 7:24-27
How to Get Into Heaven | Luke 10:25-37
Timothy "TA" AteekJun 11, 2023Luke 10:25-37
Problems, Prayer, and Provision | Luke 11:5-8
John ElmoreJun 4, 2023Luke 11:5-8
Your Best Summer with Jesus | Matthew 13:44-46
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 28, 2023Matthew 13:44-46

Summary

The Parable of the Persistent Widow gives us an example of a vulnerable woman who has suffered an injustice. She pleads her cause to an ungodly judge. He gives her justice due to her persistence. If this widow received justice from a wicked judge, how much more will be done on our behalf by our good and loving God? We can understand this parable with these three points.

  • Life’s Not Fair (Luke 18:1-4a)
    • Your bad situation is His good invitation. He is inviting us to pray through to God’s breakthrough.
    • The Lord is inviting us to pray through our troubles and to grow our faith when He answers.
    • While the world is fallen and people are fallible, God is not.
  • Persist in Prayer (Luke 18:4b-6)
    • Man’s circumstances cannot hinder God’s providence (Ephesians 1:11).
    • When you pray general prayers, you typically receive general answers. Pray with boldness and specificity so that when God answers, you cannot miss it! Be watchful with thanksgiving.
    • We must pray to SEE our prayers answered. Prayers should be:
      • Specifically by you – Pray specifics
      • Explicitly of God – Pray explicitly His will
      • Expectantly in Faith – Being watchful in it (Colossians 4:2)
    • Prayer will change your circumstances, you, and often both (Job 36:16).
  • You’re God’s Heir (Luke 18:7-8)
    • All of mankind is either a child of God or a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:1).
    • You become a child of God when you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9). He will save you from the fire or through the fire.
    • Prayer is evidence of faith.
      • Unlike the widow, you are not solo: Jesus (Hebrews 7:25), the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27) and the Church are praying for you (Galatians 6:2).
    • Life’s not fair, so we persist in prayer because you’re God’s heir.

Discussion and Application

  • Do you believe you are God’s heir? Do you live like this is true?
  • What situation in your life seems immovable and impossible? Begin to pray to SEE (Specifically, Explicitly, and Expectantly) your prayer answered.
  • What alarms can you set or prayer cards can you create this week that will encourage you to always pray and not lose heart?

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to church. It's good to be with you guys, as the people of God coming to exalt the Son of God and those who are far from God to draw near. So, welcome here. If you're a visitor, we're so honored that you would give us a moment of your time and hope today will be an encouragement to you and that you would grow to know the one who loves you, who made you, that you'd be reconciled to him.

There is a question our kids have asked us since they could speak. They have asked it on repeat, and they keep getting an answer of "No." It is "Can we get a dog?" I'm like, "Kids, we're barely surviving with y'all. We can't get a dog." We've caved a little. We ended up with a hamster last year for Penny's birthday. That didn't satisfy her. We thought that would give us some time. We currently have two fish and a frog that live in a tank.

We've tried to make concessions, but they're relentless. They're like, "No. No. The frog is not it. We want a dog. Maybe you misunderstood me. Not frog…dog." We're like, "Guys, look. Until Judd is in kindergarten, we just have too much on our plate." Judd starts kindergarten in nine days, so it is full-on… They remembered the promise. "He starts kindergarten. You said we'd get a dog."

Well, we had a pipe burst. They're going to literally rip it out until the foundation. We're like, "Look. The dog would fall in and die. We can't get it now." Penny comes home from a doctor's appointment the other day. I get home from work, and she's holding this piece of paper, just smiling ear to ear. She hands me this. You'll see it on the screen. Now, if you can't read that, we're going to zoom in a little closer. It says, "Please give Penny a dog of her choice."

I was like, "You've got be kidding me." I had to black out the information, because I'm like, "That is medical malpractice. I need you to treat my daughter, not… We're going to bring you the dog when we go on vacation." No, these are dear friends of ours. We laughed. That will be a lifelong memory. But we're not getting a dog. I'm like, "You can write whatever prescription you want."

Just like my kids, we all have situations that seem immovable, and we've asked God. We've taken it to him. We've taken it to our Father on repeat, even going to his Word and being like, "But you said! You said this is according to your will. Lord, I've brought this to you," maybe for years, for decades, and you're not getting an answer. It seems immovable. It seems impossible. It doesn't seem plausible. So you're left like, "What do I do? If you're not going to move…"

Today, Jesus gives us an incredible answer. Today, Jesus, the Son of God in flesh, in a parable, tells us to always pray and not lose heart because God is going to make a way. Today is an incredible invitation for us to keep on praying until God moves. In fact, the phrase I want to give you for this message is to pray through to God's breakthrough. Not your breakthrough, not what you think the answer should be, but to pray through until you see God break through, and do not give up.

He says in this parable… In many of the parables, you have to read and try to discern, "What is he talking about?" In this one, right from the beginning, he says he shared this parable in order that everyone would always pray and not lose heart, that they would pray, seeking the Father, a response from the Lord, and not lose heart, not give up.

Today is the conclusion of the Parable series. We've been journeying through the parables throughout the summer, looking at the words of Christ through picture as they can apply to our lives. Then next week, TA is going to start off a new series that will take us all the way through Thanksgiving. It will be amazing. I am not going to tell you what it is. You have to show up next week to find out, but it's going to be an incredible journey from next week all the way to Thanksgiving.

This parable, if you want to turn to it, is in Luke, chapter 18. I emailed this to the elders. I was like, "I think our bookend for the Parable series should be this jump off of prayer, just persistence in prayer, to pray through to God's breakthrough." They said, "Do it." So, Luke 18:1-8. To give you the context, in chapter 17, the Pharisees are asking Jesus, "Where is the kingdom of God?" You know, they're talking to the Son of God. They're like, "Where's the kingdom?"

He's like, "Hey, don't say, 'Is it here?' or 'Is it there?' The kingdom of God is in your midst. I am here. I'm performing miracles. I'm raising the dead. The blind see. I'm the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The kingdom of God is here, and it is not yet." He says, "It's here. It's upon you. It's in your midst, and the Son of God is coming again." He talks about the first advent and the second advent, the second coming of the Son that we're still waiting for.

Then he leads into this parable. At the end of this parable, he also says, "Will the Son of Man find faith at his coming?" He's saying, "Hey, the kingdom of God is in your midst. The Son of God is here. He has come to live a sinless life, die for the sins of the world, and be raised again, and he has ascended to the Father. He's going to come again. When he comes again, will he find faith?"

The means by which he will find faith is…Are we persisting in prayer? Are we still praying and living a life of faith? So, with that in mind, this is chapter 18, verses 1-8. It's a very short parable. I'm reading from the ESV. "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart." That's the point of the parable: always to pray and not lose heart, to pray through to God's breakthrough.

"He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, "Give me justice against my adversary." For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, "Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming."' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.'"

Here's the question. It's more for us than it was for the original audience . "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" When Jesus returns, will he find us a praying people? Here's the outline I want to give you that you're going to see in the text.

First, life is not fair. You see it in the life of the widow. Life is not fair. We live in a broken, fallen world. So, secondly, we persist in prayer. Because life is not fair, we persist in prayer. We take all of that unfairness, the injustice, to God. Why can we take it to God? Because, thirdly, we are God's heir. Life is not fair, so we persist in prayer because we're God's heir. You're a son or daughter if you're in Jesus, so you can go to the Father with all of your problems, as you persist, because you're God's heir.

  1. Life is not fair. This is in verses 1 through the first part of verse 4. It says there's this widow. She's a widow, which, by nature… Already we are met with the fallenness of this world. She has experienced the death of her husband, which, biblically speaking, in that time in the ancient Near East, would have meant she is destitute, impoverished, and she has very little rights or favor in that land. Not to mention the fact that she's grieving her husband.

The second thing we would know from a widow is that she has experienced injustice. She's going to the judge every day, knocking at his door. "Give me justice against my adversary." We aren't told what it was, what injustice she had experienced, but she experienced an injustice. So, bad situation, and now she doesn't even have any justice.

Now, she had rights because of imago Dei, because she is a human being. We are hardwired for morality and ethics. So, she knows, "This isn't right. What has happened to me is wrong, so I'm going to go to the judge." The very fact that she had to go to the judge is another problem, because all throughout the Scriptures, we are told to care for widows, to protect them, to provide for them. God cares greatly about them, and here she is going herself.

What that says is she had no advocate, no one even to help her. The widow herself is having to go to this judge. Then we see that she's under unjust authority. The judge himself is like, "I don't fear God, and I don't respect man. Go bother somebody else." Life is not fair. I want you to put yourself now in this story and think about what unfairness, what injustice, what hardship, what mountain that seems impossible to move is in your life. Think about it.

All of us have something. Every single person is going to experience the brokenness of this world, the fallenness of people, the fallenness of this world. We are face-to-face with it, and it seems so immovable. Life is not fair. What I want to say is that this bad situation is God's good invitation. Your bad situation is God's good invitation. He's saying in this parable… He paints a worst-case scenario with this widow.

He's like, "I'm saying this that you would always pray and not lose heart. Don't give up. I know life is unfair. Bring it to me. You're not meant to carry that weight. You can't make your own breakthrough. You can't change the circumstances, but I can. I move in spite of them." So, with your bad situation, there is a good invitation by Jesus himself, saying, "Don't lose heart. Always pray. I know life is unfair. That's why you bring it to me: because I'm sovereign over it all."

This widow could have worried. She could have worried herself sick, which is what we often do. We're met with a problem, and we just fret about it…sleepless nights, anxiety. We play conversations in our minds before we're even having them. It's all this spiderweb of "if-then" conditional opportunities and things and outcomes. It's just worry and fretfulness, and it avails nothing. It changes nothing except moving us farther and farther into despair and hopelessness.

Instead, if you put your worry to work through prayer, then it can change, because God changes things. So, you put your worry to work via prayer, and then God is going to move. I think about Jacob in Genesis who was on the run. He's not a hold-up, stand-up guy that you would be like, "Oh, emulate him." He schemed his own father, deceived his father, deceived his brother, deceived his father-in-law, and now he's on the run.

He gets to this river, and he knows he's about to meet his brother who really should kill him, so he sends his wife and kids ahead of him. The passivity, the deception…it's terrible. Yet there he wrestles with God that night, and God doesn't say, "You've really blown it. You're a colossal failure. You deserve everything you have brought about yourself." Instead, Jacob, when he meets God, wrestles with him. He wrestles and wrestles and says, "I'm not letting go until you bless me."

The blessing came from the wrestling. Jesus says that we would always pray and not lose heart. The blessing came from the wrestling, that we would wrestle God and be like, "I'm not letting you go until you give an answer." That's Jesus' good invitation here. He says, "Keep asking me, and in the asking, I'm going to grow your faith. I'm going to shape you more into the image of Christ. I'm going to deliver you from the bondage of this world and sin. Don't give up. Let the blessing come from the wrestling, just like Jacob."

Our youngest son was born with this horrible eczema, which is a skin condition. It appears in dry patches. What would happen is the dry skin would itch so badly that he would claw himself. We'd put little gloves on him and sleeves on his arms and legs because he was so afflicted he'd scratch himself, so he'd have sores. Then they would get infected. He looked like he had leprosy. So much so, we took him to playgrounds… And I don't fault these other moms.

He'd be there, and it looked like he had this communicable skin issue. You'd see other moms be like, "Okay. Here, don't play with him," because of how… I mean, on his face…everywhere. So, we just prayed and prayed and prayed. We went to doctors. We tried every crazy treatment you can imagine, like, bonkers stuff…ointments, steroid cream…everything. Nothing changed. Doctors told us, "This will either get better at 2, 5, or never." So we started praying.

I feel like what the Lord laid on my heart was Naaman, another Old Testament story. He was this pagan commander who had leprosy who got healed in the Jordan. He was like, "Man, are you kidding me? I'm supposed to swim in this dirty river, and that's how I'm going to get well?" He was supposed to do it seven times. Like, "What? If one is not good enough, why would seven?" He doubted the whole thing, but he was healed. He dipped seven times, and Naaman was healed from his leprosy.

So, I was like, "Lord…" I would pray it over Judd. My kids would hear it. Do you know how vulnerable that is? I'm praying to God the Father, who I want my kids to trust in… Like, "He's trustworthy. He's good. He hears your prayers." I want my kids to have faith, and I'm praying in their hearing, "Lord, heal Judd like Naaman in the Jordan." Two years come and go, and his skin condition is worse. Infections…it's terrible.

Now he can communicate. He's old enough that he can understand us and we can talk to him. We're like, "Judd, don't scratch yourself. Rub, but don't scratch. It's getting worse." And every night, "Lord, heal him like Naaman in the Jordan." Then five years comes up, and I'm like, "All right. This is it…2, 5, or never. He's going to have this the rest of his life. Lord, please." I'd kind of given up praying because, clearly, it wasn't… I was like, "Well, I guess this is my answer. He's just going to have it forever."

Then just a few months ago, we were swimming and bathing. It's like, "His skin is better." I was like, "It's probably just, you know, seasons change, and maybe the allergies went away. He's probably just doing a little better, but it's going to come back." The doubt. Dude, Judd doesn't have any more eczema. It's gone. We were celebrating it this past week. We were thanking God together as a family. We were like, "Judd! Kids, look at his skin. He doesn't have eczema anymore. Look at what God has done."

Even little Judd… He turned his leg like this. He goes, "It's not even here anymore either." It used to be so bad behind his legs. God is growing their faith. For five years we prayed. "Heal him, Lord, like Naaman in the Jordan." And he did. Some of you are like, "I'm glad for Judd, but that's not my story. I still have a mountain that has not been moved, and my life is not fair. I'm happy for him, but it has not been my case." That brings the second point.

  1. We persist in prayer. Before we unpack this second point, I want you to think about… What is that one thing? It has probably already come to your mind. Maybe a lost friend or family member, a diagnosis, a separation, a financial hardship. Whatever it may be, whatever that one thing is where you're like, "It's impossible. It's just not going to happen. I've prayed. I've waited…" What's that one thing? Think about it. Write it down. We're going to come back to it at the end of the third point.

Because life is not fair, we persist in prayer. While the world is fallen and people are fallible, God is not. So, here's the essence of it. The unjust judge says in verses 4 and 5, "Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice…" The essence is persistence.

God is not an unjust judge. The unjust judge is not the point of the parable. The point of the parable is this persistent widow who's like, "I'm not going anywhere." Knock! Knock! Knock! "Give me justice. No? Not today? Great. See you tomorrow." Knock! Knock! Knock! "Give me justice. No? Not today? See you tomorrow." Knock! Knock! Knock! Finally, the judge is like, "Okay, okay. You're going to beat me down by your continual coming. Here…justice."

The point is not that unjust judge. The point is Jesus is like, "Be that widow. No matter how long it takes, no matter what providences have to come, be that widow. Keep knocking on God's door until he delivers. Don't lose heart, but always keep praying. Persist in prayer." The Bible is full of those examples of people who persisted in prayer when it looked like impossible odds.

You have Abraham who was well beyond his years, along with Sarah, and God was like, "Hey, you're going to have a child, the child of promise." No child. "Well, maybe we didn't hear God right. You know, we have Hagar. Maybe that's the way God is going to create my lineage." He makes a colossal mistake.

God in that moment is not like, "Wow. You blew it. No, Hagar was not it. It's not Ishmael. It's the child you were supposed to have waited for. Cling to my promise." Twenty-five years later, Sarah has a child, the child of promise. It is said of Abraham, "The righteous will live by faith," which is a refrain through Scripture. "My righteous one will live by faith." Twenty-five years of waiting.

Or you have Elijah. He goes to the widow of Zarephath, another widow. She's ready to make one meal, eat it with her son, and then die. There's famine upon the land that, frankly, he called for, that it wouldn't rain. So, there he goes, and all of a sudden, her oil and flour don't run out, which is really great except that her son dies. It's like, "Have you come here that this judgment would fall upon me? My son died. I don't care about the flour and the oil. My son is dead."

So, Elijah goes up. He stretches himself upon the boy in the shape of a cross and prays that the boy would come back to life. And he doesn't. If I'm Elijah, I'm like, "All right. Well, there's the answer. I guess I go downstairs and that's that." He does again. He stretches himself upon the boy a second time. Nothing. And a third time, and the boy rises.

Or the other time for Elijah when he calls that same famine upon the land, and then after three and a half years, he goes and prays. It says he gets down on his knees, face to the earth, and he's praying that God would send rain. He prays once. Nothing. Twice. Nothing. He goes and prays again. Nothing. He says to his servant… He doesn't even look back to see if the rain is coming. He just prays and says to his servant, "Go check." Nothing. "Okay, I'm going to pray again." "Go check." Nothing. Go pray. Check. Nothing.

I'm sure the servant was like, "What are we doing here? I mean, I know the whole prophets of Baal… Like, that thing worked out. This isn't working out. He's not going to bring rain." On the seventh time, because he persisted in prayer… James tells us, "The prayers of the righteous availeth much." The seventh time. I would have given up. The seventh time, the servant says, "There is a cloud the size of a palm coming on the horizon," and the rain comes.

Or maybe it's Bartimaeus who was blind. Jesus rolls into town, and Bartimaeus cries out, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" They're like, "Oh, he's not here for you, Bartimaeus. Silence!" They tell him to be quiet. So, he cries out all the more. "Son of David, have mercy on me!" They say, "Be quiet. Your prayers aren't getting heard," and he persists in prayer. Jesus says, "Bring him to me." They say, "Take heart." Just like, "Don't lose heart." "Take heart. He's calling for you."

"What would you have me do for you?"

"Restore my sight."

Or maybe my favorite, the Syrophoenician woman. We don't even know her name. She had a demon-possessed daughter who was at home. The Syrophoenician woman comes to Jesus when she hears that he's in town. She says, "Hey, I have this demon-possessed daughter. Would you cast it out? I know who you are. I know what you can do." He said, "Well, it's not right to give the food of the children to the dogs." I mean, at that point, I'd be like, "I think you just called me a dog. Okay. I'm out."

Instead, she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from the children's table." He said, "All right. I haven't seen faith like that. Your daughter is healed." Because she persisted. When life is not fair, you persist in prayer. You have a good Father. The essence is persistence. So, let me tell you something. Man's circumstances won't hinder God's providence. Man's circumstances cannot hinder God's providences.

It doesn't matter what the odds are, what the statistics are, what the probability is. What history has shown in the past is man's circumstances cannot, will not, hinder God's providences. It says in Ephesians 1:11 that he works all things, everything…your bad, unfair, unjust situation…into accordance of his will. He will bring your unfair situation into accordance of his will. It is a promise in Ephesians 1:11. Your circumstances will not hinder God's providences.

Yesterday, Judd… He's 5 now, and he was asking me, "What are the odds that that will happen?" He literally said, "What's the chance? Is it a 5 chance? Is it a 10 chance?" I'm like, "You don't even know what you're talking about. You don't know what statistical probability is." He's like, "But is it 5 or is it 10?" I'm like, "There's no such thing as chance, Judd. If God wants it to happen, it'll happen." He's like, "No." He was not satisfied with that.

He was like, "No, but is it 5 or 10?" I'm like, "Well, it's 0 to 100, really." He's like, "But what's the chance?" I'm like, "Judd, it's a God chance. Okay? If God wants it to happen, it'll happen." So we'll persist in prayer. It doesn't matter what odds, what statistic, what chance. It's a God chance. If he wants it to happen, it will happen.

So, if you want to SEE prayers answered, they should be specifically by you. S: specific to you or by you. You know, we're in Texas. We're always like, "Oh, God bless her heart." You're never going to know if God blessed her heart. What does that even mean? How would you know? Pray specifics. You see it throughout the Scripture. Pray specifics. Then, you know what? You'll actually know if it happened, which will grow your faith, and you'll be able to give thanks to God.

So, you pray specifics. The next, E, is explicitly his will. Don't pray, "I hope I never get caught looking at porn." It's God's will that you repent from porn and that you maybe should get caught. That would be a grace. So, you pray explicitly according to his will. Specific to you, explicit to God's will. Then third is expectantly. Pray expectantly. This is Colossians 4:2. It's a beautiful passage. It says, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."

It says, "Being watchful in it." What's that doing there? God is like, "Just watch. You keep praying, and you keep watching, because I'm going to move, and when I do, just give me thanks. We're going to grow this faith walk until I come for you or you come home." There are different ways you can do that. I got this from A Praying Life. It's a book that I commend to you. This is a prayer card. I just take this card and pray over it every day.

I found this in my nightstand. I pulled it out as I was preparing this message. Every single one of these is marked off. These were mountains that I thought wouldn't be moved, and all of them are checked off. As I persisted in prayer, God answered…maybe not in the way I would have thought but in the way that he saw fit, which was good.

There's another friend of mine who does prayer alarms. He has a dozen of these. Just alarms on his phone that go off throughout the day…10:30, 11:15, 12:27. He puts people's birth month and day on there. That's when they go off, and he just persists in prayer. I asked him about this. He was like, "Yeah, the persistent widow… That's my model for this. I'm going to keep those alarms on my phone, and I'm going to pray every single day until God answers."

I know life is not fair, so I'm going to persist in prayer. Who am I to go to God? I'm God's heir. I'm his son, so I'm going to take all of these prayers to him. What if nothing happens? What if you persist in prayer but nothing happens? To that, I want to pull up this log. I've split wood with my dad and my father-in-law. It doesn't matter who you are in here, strongest guy in this room. You're not pulling this. I know I can't, but if you were stronger than me, and odds are all of you are.

I can't do anything with this. I can't pull this apart. That's impossible. But if I have a splitting ax that starts small and grows wider, I can get that thing done. I can split it. Now, here's what happens. You have a piece of oak, which that is. You'll hit it once. I mean, the thing will literally bounce off, especially if it has a knot. You'll hit it with an ax as hard as you can. It will bounce off, but it will make a dent.

Maybe you turn it. You hit it again. You hit it again. You hit it again. You start to get a groove. You hit. You hit. You hit. I mean, sometimes 15 times when you have a big, round log. I don't know why or when or what, but sometimes you'll hit it just like all of the other times, and Boom! It'll just lay open.

So, we persist in prayer. Prayer is the tool that will break apart these impossible situations. You can't do it on your own strength, by your own intelligence, by your own "try harder," but God can split those things open with prayer. It's what he's inviting us to do right here. I know life is not fair. Persist in prayer, and he will do it. Pray through to God's breakthrough.

Unlike the widow, you're not solo. It says in Hebrews, chapter 7, that Jesus himself, the one who gave this parable, is interceding for you. He lives to intercede always. It says in Romans, chapter 8, that we don't know how to pray as we ought. God is like, "Man, you have this situation. You're not even praying what you really should, actually, if you knew everything, if you saw the way I did." So he gives us the Spirit, and the Spirit is like, "You don't even know how to pray as you ought, so I've got you. I'm going to pray for you." The Spirit is praying for us.

Then Galatians 6:2. We're bearing each other's burdens. People in here are praying for each other. It's like the paralytic's friends, where they ripped open the roof and lowered him down to Jesus. Well, here we are bearing each other's burdens. We're ripping up the roof of heaven, and we're raising up our friends, our brothers and sisters, to Christ and being like, "Here they are. I'm raising them up to you, and I know you're going to move. I'm going to persist in prayer. I'm going to keep raising them up every day until you move."

Don't mistake inactivity for passivity. My oldest son Hill, when he was 2 years old-ish, asked me for a peanut butter sandwich. At this point, he's this tall. He can't see past the countertops. So, he asks me for a peanut butter sandwich, and I go over to the fridge. I grab the bread out of there, because we freeze it. I pop it in the toaster. I get a plate. I walk over here. I get the peanut butter out of the pantry, shut the door, and unscrew that.

I go to get a knife, get the thing out of the oven, and he's going nuts, like, screaming at me. He's so upset. Like, "I asked you for a peanut butter sandwich, and all you're doing is wandering around the kitchen. You're doing something that I didn't even ask you to do. Where's my sandwich?" He's going crazy, just crying and crying and crying. All the while, I'm like, "I'm making you a sandwich, bro." But he can't see. He has limited vision.

Then after a while… "Here's your sandwich. I heard you. I was working all along. You just couldn't see me." So, don't mistake inactivity for passivity. God is working providentially, though you can't see him. Jesus said, "My Father is always at work, and so am I." He hears you. He's at work. He hasn't forgotten you. He's your Father. He loves you.

So, right now, whatever that impossible situation is where you're like, "I'm not going to pray anymore, because I prayed and you're not doing anything. You're walking around the kitchen. I wish you would do something. Did you not hear my prayer? I guess that's the answer. I guess the answer is 'No.'" Jesus in this parable says, "Don't lose heart. Persist in prayer." Because as you persist in prayer, prayer will change your circumstances, and it will change you, and often both. Prayer will change your circumstances, you, and often both.

Job 36:15. Listen to this verse. It says, "He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity." It says that thing, your affliction that you're praying about… He's like, "That thing, your affliction… I'm actually going to deliver you by that affliction." That's what he did with my alcoholism. That was my affliction. He delivered me by it. I'm now saved in Christ, 18 years sober, all because of that.

My wife Laura has struggled with OCD since she was a little girl, obsessive, haunting thought loops that she can't shake. That is the thing God used… He delivered her by that affliction. She is this godly, amazing woman raising our kids in the faith because God used that affliction to draw her near as she prayed and wrestled with God. "Please take this away." He hasn't yet. Since she was a little girl…20 years of praying. But he has delivered her from the affliction by the affliction.

Jesus prays in the garden, "Not my will, your will be done. Let this cup pass." He prayed that, and he went to the cross and died. But he rose again. It wasn't the end of the story. You may be thinking, "What if nothing ever changes?" In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says, "Take this thorn from my side, this physical affliction that I have." He had a hardship. Jesus said, "No." He said, "The thorn is not going away, but neither am I. I'm going to see you through. I've got you." Life is not fair, so we persist in prayer.

  1. Because you're God's heir. This is Luke 18:7-8. "And will not God give justice to his elect…" There it is: the heir. You're his elect, his chosen ones, his children. You're heirs with Christ. You're his kids if you're in Jesus. Life is not fair. Persist in prayer because you're God's heir, heir to all things. Boldly approach the throne of grace. You're his kids if you're in Jesus.

But it's a conditional statement. "And will not God give justice to his elect, who…" There's a qualifier. "…who cry to him day and night?" There's the persistent prayer. "Will he delay long over them?" The answer is no. It's a rhetorical question. No, he's not going to delay. Jesus says, "I tell you…" And God cannot lie. "…he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

He says, "I'll find faith if I find you praying." If God's elect, his heirs, persist in prayer, if they cry to him day and night, he will answer them. It says he'll answer them speedily. Some of you might be like, "No. No, he will not answer me speedily. I've been praying about this for over a decade. He didn't answer me speedily."

I had a person that I was praying for their salvation. I'd shared the gospel with them so many times. For 13 years, I knew this individual, and they rejected Christ, mocked Christians. Then they were dying, and three months before they died, I went to this individual and said, "You're dying. Before it gets dark, just say, 'Jesus, I'm a sinner. Save me.'" The person said, "No," after 13 years. I'm like, "Okay. You're going to die and go to hell." I said it very plainly. The answer was "No." In that same conversation, the answer became "Yes."

As I said, "Say, 'Jesus, save me; I'm a sinner,'" they prayed to receive Christ. They said "No" at the beginning of the conversation and said "Yes" at the end. Thirteen years. My point is when God moves, he moves quickly. For 13 years, I had been sharing the gospel and praying for this individual…our whole family. Then in the same conversation, the person says, "No, I don't believe that," and three minutes later says, "Yes, I receive that. I place my faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Holy Spirit, come into my life. My life is yours," and crossed over from death to life.

You're God's heir. You can ask him anything. In Christ, nobody is a nobody. Here, Jesus lays forth a widow. The widow is in this destitute situation, no advocates for her. In Christ, nobody is a nobody. You're either a son or daughter. Situationally, there may be widow or divorcee or addicted or struggler, whatever it may be, but nobody is a nobody. You're either son or daughter if you've placed your faith in Jesus Christ.

Now hear me clearly. There is a common, popular phrase in this world of eight billion people right now, like, "We're all God's children. Everybody is a child of God…the Hindu, the Muslim, the atheist, the agnostic. They're seekers. We're all God's children, because look. We were made in his image." It's not true. The Bible does say we're all children, but not all children of God. It says that you're a child. You're either a child of God or you're a child of wrath (Ephesians 2), dead in your sins.

The only way to go from being a child of wrath and spending eternity separated from God in hell is to become a child of God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. You become a child of God and not a child of wrath by trusting in Jesus, that God's wrath was poured out on him for your sins. Confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord." Believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved from a child of wrath to a child of God.

So, he will answer you. Even if the answer hasn't come yet, pray through to God's breakthrough. He promises. Jesus said this parable is that we would always pray and not lose heart. He knows life is not fair. So, we persist in prayer, because you are God's heir if you are in Christ. He is your Father. He loves you. He hears you, and he will see you through. Pray through to God's breakthrough.

We're going to get the kids a dog, because we love them and because they wore us down. This parable Jesus lays before us… He says, "Will I find faith when I come back?" He is coming again. He's coming for his bride. Will he find faith? So, now we get to take that one thing. What's that one thing you thought that maybe you've even given up on that you need to reignite that faith and be like, "All right. I'm not letting go until you give an answer"? Let's go to him now in prayer.

Father, thousands of prayers have just been prayed. You're not man that you should lie. You've told us to always pray and not lose heart, that you will give justice speedily. Lord, you've told us to pray steadfastly and to watch. Lord, we've prayed, and now, as a body, we're going to watch and wait and keep on praying, keep on knocking. Then, when you give the answer, your answer, your breakthrough, we will praise you. Now we stand and sing to praise you, the only one who can move mountains. All power, glory, and honor to you. In Jesus' name, amen.