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Trust God’s timing—don’t give up

May 4, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Luke 18:1-8

1 Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” 6 The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? 8 I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One [or Son of Man] comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ parables most often taught by saying or implying, “God is like…” In this story, he taught by contrast, saying, in effect, “God is MUCH BETTER than this unjust judge.” The story asked, “If even a bad judge can be worn down by persistence, isn’t it clear that your good, generous God wants to listen to your prayers?” The real question, Jesus said, is not about God’s faithfulness, but ours: “When the Human One [or Son of Man] comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

  • Luke said Jesus wanted his followers to learn about “their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged.” Two or three decades earlier, the apostle Paul concisely urged his converts to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Have you ever persisted in prayer even when you weren’t getting the result(s) you asked for? If so, how did that experience affect you? What makes you most likely to give up praying? What experiences or beliefs lead you to keep on praying?
  • 2 Peter 3:8-9 said, “The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise,” but that for God a thousand years are as one day. In Luke, Jesus said God will “quickly” give God’s children justice, and then linked that to his future return (which hasn’t happened 2000 years later). How hard is it for you to hold onto your faith and trust given the divine pace of what Madeleine l’Engle called God’s “patient, waiting love” * that enfolds everything?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I’m impatient, partly because I live in a stream of time that I never seem to have enough of. Grow your patience in me—a patience rooted in your eternity, where neither you nor I will ever run out of time. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell serves as the Worship Experience Director for Resurrection, leading the church’s efforts to provide radical hospitality and an excellent worship experience across all of our locations. She’s a mom to three, g-momma to one sweet little boy, and shares much of her time with her closest companion, a rescued Pit Bull named Lola.

Though I was a church kid, I didn’t grow up in an environment where prayer was a big focus. At the church we attended there were prayers during worship services. We learned to say, “God is great, God is good….” before we shared our snack of animal crackers and apple juice in Sunday School, but that was about it. On special occasions, like Christmas or Easter, my grandaddy would say a prayer before we’d eat a family meal. Otherwise there wasn’t a lot of praying out loud in my upbringing.

I started working at Resurrection 11 years ago, my first professional role in a church. I had an abundance of church leadership experience as a volunteer, but this new staff environment took some getting used to. Public, corporate, out loud prayer became a constant in my everyday world, which at times felt very foreign to me. I remember the first time I was asked pray out loud in my new staff role. In all honesty, I was more than slightly panicked at the thought, but the words that came out of my mouth were, “I’d love to.”

What was I saying? We were finishing a meeting where a number of opposing viewpoints were being discussed, on a an especially sensitive topic for at least a few people in the room. My brain was rapid fire processing a thousand thoughts all at once. At the same time, words started coming out of my mouth. I prayed, we all said “Amen,” and I didn’t die!

The next day I was invited to join a team meeting with our Partner School liaisons. A colleague who was in the meeting with me the day before almost immediately asked me to open the meeting in prayer. What was happening? I obliged and we got on with the meeting, but I was perplexed at the sudden onslaught of requests to pray. I asked my colleague later at lunch why she’d asked me to pray at the Liaison’s meeting. She responded that I’d been so eager to pray the day before and did such a good job that she thought I loved it–ha!

As I have continued my staff time at the church, I have exercised my out-loud-prayer muscles enough that it no longer stresses me out. I actually find it very meaningful. That progress has only come with a lot of practice and persistence, and because I am in an environment and culture where prayer is a major focus and is a high priority and shared value.

I have caught myself in non-church settings thinking “Who’s going to pray?” Then I’ve looked around and realized I was at a high school band banquet, not a church event. I laughed a little bit to myself as I prayed silently in my head for my own meal and the people in the room.

Praying continuously, as Jesus directed in today’s parable, changes you. You don’t need to exercise those out-loud-prayer muscles if that’s uncomfortable for you. If you aren’t currently making space in your daily life to focus on prayer that is meaningful to you, I would invite you to give it a try and see how consistently focusing on prayer brings about changes in your life too.

*P.S.: If you are interested in exercising those out-loud-prayer muscles Pastor Anne Williams and Pastor Steve Langhofer wrote a book called Will You Pray With Me. You can find it in The Well bookstore or order from a favorite book provider.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* L’Engle, Madeleine. Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time, Book 4). Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). Kindle Edition, p. 318.