This passage in Lukes gospel was one of the readings recently when I was invited to speak at a family service. What follows are my brief thoughts on prayer, which I shared with a classic “three pointer” talk.
A discalimer . . . what follows is not my talk per se, I have adapted it for a blog audience . . . but kept the three “ps”.
Firstly, prayer requires practice – we cannot pray if we do not pray. That might seem obvious, but we need to have a go . . . we will never drive if we do not get in a car, sit in the driving seat, start the ignition and try and move the car . . . getting everything right (mirror / signal / manouver) clutch put the car in gear etc. takes time, until it becomes a fluid motion and we not only drive but can change gear, change lanes, change places by actually going on a journey. Prayer is the same, a journey of incredible discover of God, ourselves, of others, but we have to “practice”. Jesus disciples had the courage to ask “how” and Jesus showed them . . . they must have gone away and tried to “copy” what Jesus did until they began to “get it”. Practice will not make us perfect in this life, but practice is the key if we want to develop the healthy spiritual discipline of prayer.
Secondly, we need patience (the Widow had to be patient to get her reply . . . . it did not come straight away – and patience does not mean “quiet” or “meekly waiting” patience can be tough, and unyielding, “I will not give in!” is still showing patience . . . “my time will come” is showing patience. We live in an instant culture, everything must happen how – we cannot wait. You only have to look at the shelves in a book store where the thematically laid out books are “biography” to see “my life story” by people who are barely into young adulthood . . . the world must know “now” . . . We might be so desperate to have our first cup of coffee in the day that we cannot even wait for the kettle to boil, we shove the mug of “instant” coffee in the microwave to speed up the process! Scripture encourages us to “wait on the Lord”, but we expect the Lord to “wait on us”. Like good coffee needs to brew, or tea needs to infuse . . . we need to wait on God – in fact, the word infuse comes from the root “en theos”, which is also where we get the word enthusiastic from and it literally means “in God”, when we are caught up “in God” rather than ourselves we cannot help but be patient. Waiting in his presence becomes a pleasure – if we knew how to do that, it might take precendence over what we were waiting for in the first place . .
A finally, we need to be persistant. My daughter knows how to do this . . . “Daddy, just play one game with me”. Not long winded, not lots of words, not different everytime to try a different “tack”, she knows ME and she knows I will respond (eventually . . . !) How can I not, I love her and she is amazing . . . how much more does God love us? We need to be persistant, not because of the impact this has on God . . . but because of the impact it has on us and our character, and our trust that “He is able” . . . we need to be persistant.
If these things are evident in our prayer lives then we might begin to grasp why it is our life blood as Christians and followers of Jesus . . .
The term “God botherer” has been used as a reference towards how a certain kind of Christian makes other people feel . . . it is negative, and suggests that we are a pain in the neck . . . I want to be known as a God botherer, not because I bother others . . . but because I bother God (because he bothers with me).