The Trouble with Prayer

Why People Decide Not to Pray

Luke 18:1-8


I.         Introduction


A.      A real convicting message this morning - something we all need desperately

B.       Jesus spent a lot of time teaching His disciples about how to walk with God - to pray, and lean upon Him for direction and comfort, and safety and the supply of every need!

C.       So He uses an unusual story - a parable that will teach us about prayer

D.      But let me warn you, this is no simple "object lesson." Jesus not only shows us how to pray, but warns us that true prayer has a high price tag – not giving up!


II.       Background (Luke 18)


A.      The Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1,2)


1.        A judge is someone who settles conflicts and problems between people

2.        This judge Feared not God – had no time for God - no moral guidance - no authority above himself - have things changed in 2,000 years?

3.        He regarded (cared) not for people - lived separately from people and their problems. Just basically a law unto himself

4.        He was distant from everybody - didn’t seem to be a very good judge


B.       The Widow Woman (Luke 8:3-5)


1.        She is in trouble with some neighbour who had become her adversary (her enemy) – and she was under attack/threat from this adversary

2.        She has no family - no one to lean on, or turn to for help - no govt assistance or programs. She was alone in her situation

3.        She concludes that this judge is her only hope!

4.        She has no solicitor - no money to hire one to speak FOR her.

5.        Decides she is going to have to go to the judge herself and get her problem fixed


a.        Her adversary, her enemy had abused her, and hurt her and taken advantage of her since she is a widow

b.       Avenge means that she needed this judge to intervene and make things right – restore whatever she had lost

c.        Like “re”-venge, but she knows she needs an authority to do it


6.        But the lesson she learned, and that Jesus teaches is not going to be easy!


III.     Message -  The Trouble with Prayer (Luke 18:1-8)


A.      It Takes Time and Effort (Luke 18:1-5)


1.        Remember, this lesson is about Prayer – not fighting your enemy

2.        Who ever told us that prayer was easy was lying

3.        You can't just push a button, pay a coin and get prayers said for you - web-site prayer pages, and dial-a-prayer, prayer and mass cards

4.        This widow woman, who already had a busy schedule just surviving with no help, was going to have to take the time herself and go meet this judge face to face

5.        Not just a once-off event either. She was going to stay at it until an answer was received – that’s called, perseverance - tenacity!

6.        This widow woman was not cheap with her time with this judge


a.        She invested time each and every day - had a set time she would go to meet this judge and cry-out before him her case, her need, her burden

b.       She would go not only during the day, but also at night – “her continual coming” (18:5)


7.        She couldn't turn it over to somebody else to do it for her – she had to do it


a.        You can't rely on others to do your praying for you!

b.       Thank God for people who pray for us, and care about us to pray when we are weak and low

c.        I believe in praying for one another - but not to the exclusion that only a FEW people end up doing most of the praying! That's laziness and that tells God we are not really interested in getting answers to our prayers!

8.        Every one of us need to take great head to this lesson in Luke 18 – and continually come to our Father in prayer with our requests, our burdens, our feelings, and our needs (Philp 4:6; 1Thes 5:17; Col 4:2; Eph 6:18)

9.        Praying means


a.        Taking the time to talk to God, to listen to God

b.       Getting somewhere where you can talk and listen

c.        Staying there until you are finished praying and an answer comes

d.       Praying with effort – not a prepared prayer, but struggling to find the words, and struggling to keep praying until God answers!!!


10.     Our TIME in prayer is an investment that requires more than dribs and drabs, but a continual interaction between my heart and the heart of God

11.     EXAMPLE


a.        Two soldiers – linked up by radio, behind enemy lines. Would be foolish to not be talking and interacting with each other as they accomplish their mission. Yet that’s what we do – we go SILENTLY though a day

b.       Somebody once said, talk is cheap – well, that may be true, but prayer is not. It is rich and rewarding because it is the starting point and maintenance point in ALL relationships

c.        Don’t neglect this most simple of endeavors


12.     That’s the trouble with prayer – it takes time, and effort – hard work!



B.       Prayer Needs a Reason (Lk 18:3) – Prayer is NOT just something to pass the time – We all need a real Focus, a Goal. We need good reasons to pray


1.        This woman had a desperate need - about to lose everything – that need focused all her energies on obtaining protection from this judge. It was not an "exercise in futility" - even though the judges of that time were just as unjust as today! This woman set out to petition him as her only hope! And was out to get him to help her!

2.        Our times of prayer have become so shallow - don't really come to God in times of need anymore - just times of griping and defeat and frustration

3.        Ah, but when trouble strikes, let it be a good reason to run to Christ (1 Kings 1:41-53)


a.        David was dying - could barely sit up in bed

b.       No king had been chosen to replace him in Israel

c.        A young, enterprising man named Adonijah took advantage of the situation and gathered a bunch of people around him, and declared himself king. People were starting to believe Adonijah was king.

d.       The royal court came to David and told him about Adonijah

e.        So David sat up and declared his son Solomon was the man God had said would be king

f.         Out goes the news

g.       People began to rejoice and sing

h.       Adonijah hears all the commotion and finds out Solomon is the real king, and then runs


1)       Not out of the country in exile

2)       But to the Temple, right to the altar of sacrifice

3)       He is praying! Begging God to forgive him, and protect him. Do you know what kings do to their competition? See what Herod did to all the children 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem because of the birth of the King of the Jews (Jesus)!


i.         There is nothing like a good NEED to get a proud man to pray (Ps 119:67). Next time, realise the troubles your family is experiencing may be to get you all on your knees and maybe get somebody saved!


4.        David had learned this, and most of the Psalms are him praying in times of need - times of trouble - times of disaster - times of spiritual warfare

5.        Let me balance this out and say, a good reason to pray is just to praise as well! Doesn't have to be only in the bad-times - but like Jesus says, AT ALL TIMES!

6.        So, what are your reasons for prayer?


a.        For unsaved loved ones

b.       For needs to be met – not automatic, but guaranteed

c.        For family situations

d.       For revival in our church

e.        For our country and our leaders

f.         For our future

g.       For God to heal health needs and intervene in disasters


7.        That's the trouble with prayer - it won't work without a reason! It has to be more than just a religious exercise!


C.       Prayer Requires Passion (Luke 18:5; Cf Ps 119:2,10,58,145) - heart energy!


1.        This woman is going after this judge with all her heart and energies – she will not stop until she has obtained what she needs!


a.        Not like children who throw tantrums for what they want

b.       But like a mother who keeps at the doctor until he or she finds a cure for her dying child!


2.        Most hearts are so far from God - their prayers are only words to impress others around them (Mt 15:8)

3.        We put so much energy into our hobbies, and studies and activities (fishing, sports, and gardening). Yet our energy for God is near zero!

4.        True prayer comes only from the heart, and ought to include


a.        Tears; brokenness; surrender; total dependence - not caring what anyone else thinks

b.       This is how the Centurian, and the Canaanite woman, and Jairus came to Jesus when they asked Him to help their situation at their homes


5.        This world has taught us how to live in the passions of lust and desire for filth and wickedness, and the result is none of us has a passion for God anymore - I mean a passion that loves to just stay and pray, and linger in heaven before the throne of an Almighty Saviour and Friend!

6.        Measure your "passion" next time you pray - see just how long you can stand to pray, and compare it with how long you can stand to watch TV, and sit at a match in the rain during penalty after penalty overtime!

7.        That's the trouble with prayer - it can't work without passion!!!


D.      Lastly, Prayer Demands Faith (Lk 18:6-8; Cf Rom 4:14,18-21)


1.        Faith is:


a.        Strong Confidence in God

b.       A Solid Dependence upon God - not having back-up plans

c.        A Willingness to obey God because you know God will get you through the situation and will be good in the situation

d.       Abraham was NOT a fatalist – not just waiting for God to do what He planned on doing.

e.        God has a plan, but waits on our faith to initiate that plan and fulfill it


1)       As with salvation - Father forgive… you must ask (Rom 10:13)!

2)       As with joy - the joy is there! Just draw on it in prayer


f.         Faith means that you DON’T tell God what to do, but ASK Him to do what He knows needs to be done, and then wait for that answer!


2.        This woman had visible, evident, strong faith


a.        Prayer was NOT just words to her – repeated over and over

b.       But prayer had become her whole life – something she did like breathing

c.        How "visible" is your faith?


1)       Do your kids see it?

2)       Do other people notice it - how about at meal times?

3)       Do people know of you as a person of prayer - or just a go-getter, or a sleeper, or a trouble-maker?


3.        Christ invites us to His throne at any and all times of our lives (Heb 4:16)

4.        That’s the most important trouble with prayer – it won’t work without faith – without being able to trust God with the situation you are looking to Him to help with!


IV.    Conclusion -


A.      Jesus reminds us that God is not unjust, but that if a widow woman, with no one helper her, could move the heart of an ungodly judge, then surely anybody in this room could move the heart of God

B.       Someone once said, "Why try and move the world ourselves, when all we need to do is move the Arm that already moves the world?"

C.       The trouble is:


1.        It takes time

2.        We need good reasons to pray

3.        We need passion in our prayers - not empty scripted prayers

4.        We must be full of faith and confidence in the One to whom we call


D.      If those ingredients are not present, we fail

E.       But if those ingredients are present, we can only win


1.        The spiritual battles are real, and deadly

2.        The need is desperate - in our homes and families

3.        The hour is late - we need revival

4.        Some folks may leave here this morning and step off into eternity - with no hope of heaven because they have never repented and trusted Jesus once and for all for forgiveness and salvation