Text: Luke 18:1-8

Praying to God is a wonderful privilege given to all Christians. Only the saints can have access to God’s throne of grace. Alas, believers often treat prayer as nothing more than an emergency hotline. They would only pray when they are in trouble, or when they feel like doing so. They go about life relying upon their own strength and wisdom rather than humble dependence upon the Lord. Even when they pray, they do so without expecting their prayers to be answered. Jesus thus issued a strong rebuke to His disciples, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1)

Jesus illustrated this truth using a parable in the later verses. We are introduced to a judge who is ungodly and unjust. A good judge is supposed to be God’s instrument to uphold social justice. Sadly, this judge was not concerned to be accountable before God, much less before men. He was working only for his interest. All judgement was subjected to his whims and fancies!

Along came a widow who wanted to seek justice against an oppressor. Widows were often not respected in those days, and had no family to defend them. The only recourse she had was in the courts of law before the judge. However, why should the crooked judge listen to one who is rejected by society? The widow’s plea is seemingly a lost cause.

Nevertheless, the widow persisted in seeking recourse for justice despite the judge’s initial refusal to take up the case. Finally, to get rid of this “nagging” widow, he decided to help her. He did so not out of a sense of duty, but simply to remove a nuisance. Pretending to be a responsible judge, he uttered, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7)

The unjust judge in this parable is compared to the one living and true God, who is the perfect judge of the world. If the unjust judge would answer the cry of the persistent widow, more so God will answer the elect who persevere in their prayers. If only we would go to him in prayer and not rely on our own strength!

The issue in this parable is not about the length of prayer. A short prayer made sincerely and truthfully by a righteous man is just as effectual as one which is lengthy. Rather, the lesson here is that Christians should be engaged in habitual prayer. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The well-loved hymn restates the truth beautifully – “Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?”

Sadly, the Lord Jesus Christ ends the prayer with this observation: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (verse 8) Tragically, the answer is “No!” The Lord Jesus long for believers who will exercise their faith in God by persevering in prayers in this world that hates Christ and His saints. Alas, how rare it is to find a saint who will pray without ceasing!

Dearly beloved, how is your prayer life? Are you persevering in your prayers to God? Let us persevere in our praise and thanks of our Almighty God. Let us continue in fervent prayer for Christ’s kingdom to be extended, and His name to be exalted. Let us labour in interceding for ourselves and fellow brethren.

As God’s people, we must also be diligent in praying for the church. The local church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was wholly and consistently devoted in corporate prayers (Acts 2:47). When people visited the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Charles Spurgeon would often direct people to the basement boiler room where there will be people praying for the ongoing worship service. Charles Spurgeon would declare the gathering of the praying saints as the “the power-house of the church”. Similarly, we should also gather for the weekly prayer meeting on Tuesday nights and seek the Lord fervently for help to do His work. Hope to see you there.

A Strawberry Generation?

The term “strawberry generation” (草莓族) is used to describe a generation of people who are soft, spoilt and apathetic (see “A soft Y Generation?” in The New Paper, May 16, 2012). Some Singaporeans are concerned that there such a generation is emerging and are worried that citizens in the future may not be able to endure the hardships of life.

I certainly do not think it is fair to paint any generation with the brushstroke of generalisation. Nevertheless, such an attitude is certainly detrimental to any society, and even worse if it is found in the church
1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” On Reformation Sunday, we saw how the Reformers of old epitomised this spirit as they stood firm in the face of persecution. In the fierceness of the battle, they did not flinch. They suffered bravely for the truth, and bore the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ in their bodies.

This must also be our attitude today as we serve our Saviour. The church needs soldiers of Christ who are brave men (andrizomai), and will stand firm (kratisomai) against the tide of falsehood and apostasy. Hardness is necessary in the Lord’s work, for there will be much sweat and tears. There is no room for spiritual apathy and complacency. The saying “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going” holds true also in the spiritual arena.

By the grace of God, let us not be a strawberry generation but warriors of the truth for the sake of Christ. There must be muscles and not marshmallows.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew