#IYKYK - Week 5
People who believe in prayer pray always and never give up.
BREAKING THE ICE
Have you ever prayed hard for something that later you were embarrassed that you prayed so hard for that? What was it? What did you learn looking back on this prayer?
EXPLORE AND DISCUSS
Luke 18:1-8 fits in the larger context of an inquiry into the coming Kingdom of God found in Luke 17:20-18:14. Within this inquiry, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow in 18:1-5 followed by an apocalyptic statement in 18:6-8. Before we can understand the meaning of Jesus’ parable, we must first understand the context in which it is given.
Read Luke 17:20-18:14
Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray on this earth while they await the coming kingdom.
Based on Luke 17, what is the foundation that is set for the disciples to hear the parable taught in Luke 18:1-5?
What specific scenarios and descriptions does Jesus identify that the disciples may encounter as they await the coming of the kingdom? What do you think these scenarios represented to the disciples? What do they represent to us today?
Why do you think Jesus established this foundation before teaching the parable? What is the link between the teaching in Luke 17 and the parable in Luke 18?
Study the Passage
The Judge - v.3
In every city in Israel, there was a sanhedrin, or court of judicature; the great sanhedrin was in Jerusalem, made up of seventy-one members. In every city with more than 120 men, there was a sanhedrin consisting of twenty-three men. In a city with less than 120 men, there were three judges appointed to oversee the affairs of the city. The law made provision for any man to judge, however, in an official judgment, there must be at least three judges. In few instances was it permitted for a judge to judge alone. The qualifications to be a judge were wisdom, meekness, modesty, fear of God, hatred of money and selfishness, the love of men, and a man of good character and reputation. The judge in this text comes greatly short of these qualifications since he is called an unjust judge; but the meaning is, that he had no regard to the laws of men, any more than the laws of God and made his own will the rule of his actions. The judge held no regard to doing justice between man and man; nor did he care what any man said of him; he had no concern about his reputation and character, having none to lose.
What does Jesus tell us about the judge?
How is the description of the judge different than the expectation for a judge?
Why do you think he gives this description of the judge?
The Widow - v.4
Why do you think that Jesus used a widow as the example in his parable?
Jesus’ parable does not give any insight into what the complaint or grievance the widow brought before the judge. However, the use of a widow as the example holds great significance in Jesus’ parable. The widow, according to Jewish law, was to receive special care and protection from the justice system.(Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; 24:17–21; 27:19; Jas. 1:27).
The Response - vv. 4-5
The granting of the request from the judge is not out of a desire to be just or fulfill the law or out of religious duty; it is a surrender to the frustration of the constant plea of the widow in efforts to get rid of her. If even an unrighteous judge is willing to give into the heartfelt, persistent plea of a widow, how much more will our righteous God hear and respond to the prayers of his children.
What point is Jesus trying to make in his example of the widow’s interaction with the judge? What difference do we notice between the judge and God? (How do you know?)
The Explanation - vv. 6-8
“Jesus applied the story for his disciples. If an uncaring human judge acts like this, how much more does a loving heavenly Father care for his children. He will never put you off. He does care for you. You will get a quick answer. You will receive justice. But remember, this involves continuing to pray day and night. Your definition of quick may not equal God’s definition.” - Holman New Testament Commentary
Jesus makes the point in verse 7 that God hears the constant prayers of the elect and will respond in accordance with his justice. That means that God will answer prayers according to his will and purposes in his timing. Those whom God hears their prayers, the elect, are a select number, a special people, whom God has chosen to love with an everlasting love in his son Jesus Christ unto everlasting life and salvation through means of his own appointing. These people are uniquely his, thus he will vindicate, avenge, right the wrongs, do justice, and deliver from adversaries. God is patient, operating in his own timing, according to his will, to deal with the sin and evil in our world.
It is important to remember that when Jesus is teaching this parable, he is teaching it in the context of the second coming described in Luke 17. He is instructing his followers to pray fervently for the coming of Christ and for God’s will to be carried out. The followers of Jesus will endure hardship and trials for the sake of the gospel, even unto the point of giving their lives for the name of Jesus. Their focus was to be fixated on the return of Jesus and the establishment of his eternal kingdom in which sin and suffering would be eternally removed. Of course, as the Bible shows, the disciples would pray that God’s kingdom would come quickly in the face of their trials and it may seem that their trials are unending and that God is not hearing their prayers.
Jesus gives the reminder that God operates on his time table, according to his will. The duration of our lifetime is but a sliver in the eternal line of God’s reign and rule. Thus, we must not get discouraged and we must be longsuffering in our view of our circumstances on this earth; as Peter reminds us in 2 Peter 3:8-9, our timeline is miniscule in comparison to the eternality of God and we must not judge God’s haste or delay in response to our prayers based on our concept of time.
Thus, this passage must be understood as Jesus’ instruction to the elect that are called by God and saved through faith in Christ to pray constantly for the will of God to be carried out and for Christ to return and establish his kingdom. A correct interpretation of this passage requires the reader to have an understanding of the doctrine of election, as well as, an eschatological view of God’s plan of salvation and his kingdom.
Eschatology is concerned with the end times and the final destiny of the human soul and the plan of God. Therefore, an eschatological view is one that looks at the present through the lens of the future; the present is viewed in context of the culmination of God’s plan understanding the completed perfect will of God. In verse 8, Jesus links the parable of the persistent widow with his description of the delay of the second coming in Luke 17.
How does understanding the audience and context to which Jesus is speaking help your understanding of this passage? How does it change the way that you might have originally understood this passage?
Why does Jesus instruct his disciples to constantly be praying for his return and the establishment of his kingdom? Why should we still continue this prayer?
How does an eschatological view of the present change the way you understand prayer in the present?
Discover the Meaning
Reflecting on Luke’s description of the judge, Pastor Brent stated, “We go to the wrong places to find something we can only get from God.”
Where/what are some places that you may be tempted to go to find answers and hope in life other than God?
What is the danger of going to these places instead of God?
When Pastor Brent said, “God’s not where we go when we exhaust every other option”, why do you think we tend to come to God as a last resort?
When have you done this recently?
“If faith fail, prayer perishes. For who prays for that which he does not believe? Whence also the blessed Apostle, when he exhorted to prayer, said, “Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.” And in order to show that faith is the fountain of prayer, he went on and said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?” So then that we may pray, let us believe; and that this same faith whereby we pray fail not, let us pray. Faith pours out prayer, and the pouring out of prayer obtains the strengthening of faith. Faith, I say, pours out prayer, the pouring out of prayer obtains strengthening even for faith itself” - Augustine of Hippo
Ask: What is prayer?
“Prayer is not one quick session of listing needs and expecting immediate results. Prayer is continuing to talk to God with persistence. Prayer is based on absolute faith in God, so it never gives up, knowing God will answer when and where he chooses. Prayer also knows that God expects us to keep on praying until the answer comes.” - Holman New Testament Commentary
“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” - John Bunyan
Discuss: Why do you think the widow was persistent in her plea before the judge? Why is it difficult to be persistent in prayer?
“We know that perseverance in prayer is a rare and difficult attainment; and it is a manifestation of our unbelief that, when our first prayers are not successful, we immediately throw away not only hope, but all the ardour of prayer. But it is an undoubted evidence of our faith, if we are disappointed of our wish, and yet do not lose courage. Most properly, therefore, does Christ recommend to his disciples to persevere in praying.
The parable which he employs, though apparently harsh, was admirably fitted to instruct his disciples, that they ought to be importunate in their prayers to God the Father, till they at length draw from him what He would otherwise appear to be unwilling to give. Not that by our prayers we gain a victory over God, and bend him slowly and reluctantly to compassion, but because the actual facts do not all at once make it evident that he graciously listens to our prayers. In the parable Christ describes to us a widow, who obtained what she wanted from an unjust and cruel judge, because she did not cease to make earnest demands. The leading truth conveyed is, that God does not all at once grant assistance to his people, because he chooses to be, as it were, wearied out by prayers; and that, however wretched and despicable may be the condition of those who pray to him, yet if they do not desist from the uninterrupted exercise of prayer, he will at length regard them and relieve their necessities.” -John Calvin
Ask: What do you think is the main idea that Jesus is trying to communicate to his disciples?
Jesus is primarily communicating to his disciples to pray in expectation of the coming of Christ, according to the will of God. Jesus had instructed his disciples in John 14:13 that anything asked or prayed for in his name will be done. The key here is praying and asking according to the will of the Father in the name of Jesus the Son. Everything that we pray for must be done in faith, according to the will of the Father, in the name of Jesus the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Any prayer given in this manner will surely be answered according to the will of God.
Discuss: How then should we pray?
Read Luke 11:2-4
This is not a verbatim, word for word, method for us to pray; rather, it is a model of how our prayer should look. One easy way to pray in this manner is to follow the acronym ACTS. Define each of the following words.
Which phrases of Luke 11:2-4 match up with which words in this acronym?
How does praying by this model help us pray with an eschatological view according to the will of God?
This week, write out this acronym, ACTS, in a journal. List what you are praying for under each of these letters each day. As you list these items, identify if they are prayers and requests that are submitted to the will of the father.
Use the RANSOM method to study Luke 17-18.
Try to identify what the collection of parables tells us about the kingdom of heaven.
For further guidance on the RANSOM Bible study method see:
For free Bible study resources use:
Blueletterbible.org or Blue Letter Bible app