Two ways to pray
God, help me to continue with persistence until I have pressed through to what I seek from You.
Read Luke 18:1–17
 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  “For some time he refused. 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!'”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  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?  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?”  To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  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.”  People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat got prayers answered?
Jesus shares two parables. In the first is a judge who didn’t care and a woman who needed his help. He wouldn’t respond to her pleas for help, but she would not give up. Luke actually says that the judge gave in because the woman kept “bothering” him. And the point of the story is: if even an unjust judge can be pressurized to act by the persistence of a widow, how much more will a loving God respond to his people’s cries for help? In our next story, two men walk into a temple—one is a Pharisee and one a tax-collector. The Pharisee is the religious professional, the kind of person who is busy leading God’s people, and reads (or, more likely, writes) Bible commentary every day. Of course he is justified. The tax-collector has a stinking job, is probably cooking the books and works for the Roman authorities to boot, and he comes to God knowing he is in bad shape. Jesus says: it’s not what it looks like. Yes, one of these men is justified, but which one? The “wrong” one. Things are not what they seem on the surface. Next he’ll be saying that the kingdom of God belongs to little children…
Verse 13 offers a model of repentance—a simple prayer for you to pray today. Simple, but not easy.
Father, I come on the basis of Jesus’ work on the cross and knowing my only hope is mercy.
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