Sunday, March 1, 2015

Pray Without Ceasing

I’ve always liked Luke’s writings to Theophilus, partly because it seems so personal – yet it can mean me since it’s Greek origins are θεός (God) and φιλία (friendship) can be translated as Friend of God. I’m not only God’s friend, but His child.  Luke offers what I see as personal viewpoints, too, as he adds explanation for Jesus’ words. For example:

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (Luke 18:1 KJV)

Jesus does not give a commandment for men to always pray and not faint, but Luke received messages in parables in chapter 18. The first sounds much as a nagging woman:

. . . There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (Luke 18:2-7 KJV)

In this first example, we’re given the example of a judge who did not fear God, nor any other man, but gives in to a persistent petitioner. This could have been a current event His listeners would relate to. I believe most of us know of someone whose constant requests results in action. God hears our petitions for justice – but responds in His timing. We need to pray and not give up.

The second example is more personal. Which man’s prayer is for God to hear? Luke explains the answer in the verse preceding:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14 KJV)

Attitude is extremely important. Isaiah made this clear centuries before:

Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2 KJV)

It’s not so much that He does not “hear”, for His omnipotence tells me He knows the requests from the unjustified, but His will is not sought and His response not anticipated. Unrepentant sinfulness separates me from God.  Even though Paul tells me to:

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

… the surrounding attitudinal verses are what determines my separation quotient.

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