“And he spake a parable unto them to this end,
that men ought always to pray, and not to faint”
~ Luke 18:1
In His ministry, Christ taught the disciples how to pray and that they ought to pray. It is positively taught and understood that the children of God are to pray. Jesus instructed the disciples saying, “When ye pray.” It is written that “praying always” is a mark of those that overcome. Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
Christians who do not pray and Christians who will not pray are hardly worthy to bear the title. Rolfe Barnard once said that if God sentenced most Christians to pray for five minutes, they would be miserable and go crazy. They would not be able to do it. After about a minute, they would lose their mind to think about the corn crop, their bank notes, or some other thing. It is not only our obligation to pray, it is also our privilege and opportunity to pray. Let us now meditate upon prayer.
Jesus preached, “That men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” We see from His own prayers, that Christ took praying seriously. He poured out His heart unto the Father. “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). In telling his disciples “to pray, and not to faint”, He intends intense persistent prayer. It is not the mumbling of a few ritualistic words in the general direction of Heaven that avails much. It is “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man” that “availeth much” (James 5:16).
Effectual fervent prayer is an intense exchange with God. This sort of prayer engages the whole man. You cannot pour out your heart and be pondering the condition of the stock exchange. You cannot pour out your heart to God while wondering what the ballgame score is. You must be involved in prayer. Once before prayer, Jesus said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34). He went to the Father with a burden. He had nothing short of communion with God in mind when He prayed. Once on the mount, His prayer grew so intense that He began to shine with radiant light. He came so close to God in communion that the glory of the Father swept over Him and the disciples were amazed.
I long for those hours of prayer when my heart grows hot within me. I long for the times when I become so engaged in fellowship with my Lord that I begin to feel the wind of the heavenly world blow upon me. I desire to pray and for my soul to be ravished and caught up in rapturous glory. I then cry aloud like the Psalmist that said, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17). Oh, how easy prayer comes at these times. Almost without effort, we pour out our hearts to Him in the morning, at noon, and at night. Praise God! I sing with John Newton:
His name yields the richest perfume, And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom, And makes all within me rejoice:
I should, were He always thus nigh, Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I; My summer would last all the year.
He also purposed to teach that in prayer, men are “not to faint.” You may say, “I have never had the kind of experience, that you described, when I pray.” You need to heed the words of Christ “not to faint.” There is a persistence required in prayer if we are to secure the blessings of it. We must be like Jacob who wrestled with God and said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26). We must be like Daniel who said, “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). We must “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). We must be like a spiritual Samson that will uproot the very gates of Heaven rather than be denied an entrance.
If you are a child of God, “ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). You have a right to call on God. You have a right to cast “all your care upon Him.” This right is not because of anything that we are or that we have done it is because of Jesus Christ who came “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5). He is our righteousness! He is our advocate! He is our reason! Have faith in the finished work of Christ and pray to God. Do not rest until you have laid hold of Heaven through prayer. Not all Christians have this sort of fellowship with God, but do not be satisfied without it.
Though prayer is not natural to us, it is a discipline in which we should be much practiced. Let us never fail through want of prayer. There may be many reasons that we do not accomplish what we set out to do, but may our enterprise never languish for want of prayer. Additionally, we may run out of time for many things in a day. I hope that never shall the sun rise or set but what I have been much engaged with my Lord in prayer. Christian, seek His face continually and lay hold of the riches we have in Christ Jesus.