After my initial work earlier in the week, I’ve got some ideas forming as I begin to move into sermon writing mode.
Once again, the Gospel text: Luke 18:1-8
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The Old Testament Lesson is the story of Jacob wrestling with the “angel” in Genesis 32:22-31.
The Psalm is 121 “I lift my eyes to the hills …”
The focus of all three is clearly about prayer. Prayer is one of those topics that is a challenge to people. If you believe that God controls everything … why pray? If God doesn’t control everything … why pray? What good is praying, many people will ask … even very faithful people.
O. Hallesby’s book, Prayer contains two chapters on “Wrestling in Prayer”.
I really think that the parable of the widow and the unjust judge can be a distraction to the purpose of the parable. The Gospel writer says that Jesus told the parable about their need to pray always and not lose heart. People are more likely to be persistent when they feel they’ve been treated unjustly (by companies, or in relationships) than in prayer. How much more is God the loving father willing to bring justice than even an unjust judge who is worn down by persistence.
A lingering question that may form the basis of a sermon is “How can you pray when …?”
Mother Theresa struggled with the very same question. The book of her private letters reveals that her private prayer life was non-existent for long stretches, and that the only prayer she was engaged in was the corporate prayer of worship and her order.
As usual, I’ll be interested to see where I’m led this week as I prepare the sermon.