“Men ought always to pray, and not to faint”

by Steven Chan
3 October 2010

Have you become wearied and ceased praying? Why do some believers stop praying? Could it because we live in a world where we have come to expect almost immediate satisfaction of our needs and when God does not immediately grant us what we asked we grow weary and ceased to pray? Could it also be because we have prayed but we did not receive what we had asked? Whatever may be the reason, have we stopped praying?

In Luke 18:1, the Bible tells us that Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

The key point that Jesus emphasizes in this verse is that we ought always to pray. There is no reason why we should cease praying. We ought always to pray – means that we should continue to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17); “continuing instant in prayer” (Rom 12:12); “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). Jesus underlines the importance of being constant in prayer by telling His disciples a parable regarding a widow’s incessant and persistent plea to an unrighteous judge for justice against her adversary. His point was that even the unrighteous judge would eventually accede to the persistent plea of the widow – what more with God who loves and cares for us? “And shall not God avenge his elect that cry to him day and night and yet he is longsuffering over them?” (Luke 18:7). The rhetorical question clearly affirms that God will answer and give deliverance.

Earlier in Luke 11:5-13, Jesus related the account of a man seeking the urgent assistance of his friend for three loaves to be loaned to him so that he could provide for his guests, and how the friend would eventually loan him all the loaves that he needs just because of the persistence of the man. Jesus concludes with this teaching: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt 7:7-11)

In at least two occasions, Jesus taught His disciples that they ought always to pray – and not give up or quit praying just because there is no apparent answer from God. In Luke 18:1, He said that men ought always to pray and not faint. To faint is to become tired, wearied and lacking in energy – implying the likelihood of giving up – perhaps our faith in God or our hope in God. In response to the possibility of His followers becoming tired, weak and likely to faint in their faith and hope, Jesus taught them to be persistent and constant in prayer – and never to give up this practice of prayer. Why? Because “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?”(Rom 8:32) God has already given us the greatest gift – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Why would He not freely give us all things that we need? O ye of little faith.

As Isaiah declared in Isa 59:1: “Behold, Jehovah’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy that it cannot hear”. Why then does not God grant us immediate deliverance even though He said that God will avenge them speedily? His explanation: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Perhaps better understood in the light of 2 Pet 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The point that Jesus makes is that God will do His part in due course but when he avenges, will man remain faithful and in constant prayer – or will man have become wearied and fainted?

We have many struggles in life – some small and with temporal consequences; others may be significant and with permanent consequences. God’s promise is that He will deliver us as we remain constant and persistent in prayer. In many instances, God’s deliverance may be immediate (2 Tim 3:11; 4:17) whilst in other instances God’s deliverance may be of a permanent nature – as in His coming to destroy Jerusalem or in the day of Judgment when all will be judged (2 Thess 1:7-10). God’s ultimate deliverance is such that He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. We need therefore to submit ourselves to His will – as Jesus Himself was submissive to His Father’s will in Matt 26:39 – and be patient while remain constant in prayer.