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Parables on Prayer

(Luke 18:1-14)

Lesson 8 -- fourth quarter 2001
October 21, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

When should I pray?

Hmmm. After last Sunday's lesson, perhaps we should ask ourselves why we even ask the above question in the first place! Motives aside, though, the question is a good one because the answers should show us just how essential prayer is to the well-being of the believer.

When I don't know what to do. Life is full of perplexing cares and puzzling challenges. Plenty of times determining the right thing to do seems like a fruitless search. No matter what alternatives we consider, negative factors abound. Then pray, my friend! God has never been puzzled nor perplexed; He always knows the right thing to do.

When I'm certain what to do. Sometimes we face a decision, and we think we know exactly what we ought to do. We have no doubts; everything checks out...as far as we can see. The truth is, though, that mere mortals cannot see very far at all. Factors abound that we miss in our analyses. Confidence is good; it can also be dangerous. Take it as a signal to pray, not to quit praying! God knows the end from the beginning; He misses nothing.

When I'm in trouble. When we find ourselves in desperate straits, tight spots, and dangerous situations, praying comes naturally. We recognize that without divine intervention, we will not survive unscathed, provided we survive at all. We remember that He is the Sovereign One, the Almighty, the Omniscient, "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). So we call to God in our distress.

When things are going well. How nice and pleasant when life flows smoothly as an uninterrupted river of peace and contentment. Our problems are solved (or at least in remission) and our needs satisfied. So pray! God wants to hear from us in those times as well. He wants to hear that we still recognize our dependence on Him. He wants us to show the awareness that these good times come as a gift from His hand.

When I feel inadequate. Family relationships leave us feeling inadequate sometimes. Do you ever feel like you're failing or have failed as a child or sibling? Church and school assignments can frighten us, and then cast us down. Failing a driving test can crush us. Before encountering situations that magnify our shortcomings, pray. After going through circumstances that highlight our inadequacies, pray. It does make a difference, you know!

When I feel capable. Oh the joy of feeling and knowing and proving our capability in some endeavor or role! Then we need to pray lest we take undue glory and credit to ourselves. (Success can make us insufferable.) We also need to pray that our success will not lead to failure due to our own pride and self-exaltation. And we need to be sure to pray with heart-felt thanksgiving and praise to God for His enabling work through us.

In other words, maintain a constancy of prayer. Be aware of and in contact with God anytime, anywhere. In other words, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Let's remember that we "ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1).

When don't you pray?

Though this question doesn't sound like it, it actually poses this question: "Why don't you pray more frequently?"

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