Sometimes I look at the world and wonder how we got into this mess. Then I realize that our generation is here for such a time as this. Of all generations in history, we are the ones who would have to tackle a nation in decline, a true moral crisis which includes such evils as euthanasia, racial strife, abortion of all kinds, sexual abominations too vile to mention here, the prospect of war, and the looming feeling that the persecution of the church is at our front door. But, we are here, and we are not here to be trampled on so easily. We are the church, and we have an answer. Still, that answer is rarely a priority among those who make the claim of Christianity. But, it must be, and, it must be desperate.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
As we go into the next year, I would like us to prepare to be desperate. One problem I have observed, even among us at FLF is that we resist the idea of being desperate in our plea toward God. Not that we must beg or overcome His reluctance to answer us, but that the condition of our hearts would long for our faith to work. The woman in the parable of the unjust judge is a prime example. First of all, the parable was given to show us that “Men must always pray and not lose heart.” Very often we pray about things, and forget what we have prayed. It’s as though we use prayer as an exercise or an expression, but not as a real, life-giving action that provokes an answer from heaven. Yes, whether you pray loud, quietly, in the Spirit, or in English, your prayers are expected to be answered. If indeed, we expected our prayers to be answered, I have no doubt that we would pray more. Here, we are admonished not to lose heart for a reason – the answer is coming from heaven.
The widow in this story is crying out to an unjust judge, specifically to get justice of her adversary. Someone was messing with her – a widow. She was vulnerable. She had no husband, which in that day made her presumably without inheritance, without wealth, and without protection. She was easy to hurt. Still, she was persistent in her demand for justice, but her only recourse was this judge, who was prideful, arrogant (verse 4), and clearly had no time for her. Still, she persisted until her constant pleading began to affect him (verse 5). Perhaps against his own twisted judgement, he avenged her, not because it was in his character to do so, but because even being evil, her cries moved him.
God is not an unjust judge. If this widow’s cry moved an evil man, how much more do your cries move your Father who loves you? Still, we resist the cry. We resist the pleading and the desperation. Yet, when Jesus answers His own parable, he states, “…And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?” Are we among those who cry out day and night? Let’s look a bit closer, as a few things are happening here:
1. His elect cry day and night.
2. God will avenge them speedily.
3. But, will the Son of Man find faith in the earth when He returns?
Our act of intercession and supplication (earnest pleading before God) have prophetic implications. Upon His return, He will be looking for something – faith. According to this parable, that faith is demonstrated, not by easy-going, apathetic laxity, but by desperation and persistent prayer. And, there are promises associated with our desperation. He answers quickly – speedily. He is not like the unjust judge who waits until he is weary of our cry. It is as though He prioritizes the desperate, just as he prioritized the desperate woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43), or the blind beggar who cried all the more when they tried to shut him up (Luke 18:38). Remember, the effectual, fervent (Greek: energio) prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). Nothing in scripture suggests that desperation should be absent from our prayers. Nothing in the coming year suggests this, either.
Now to be transparent: This year was the worst year of my life. Even though I personally saw victories, the loss of my brother shifted me. Seeing people get healed in our own church was amazing but in the back of my mind, I wondered. Many of you also suffered losses in your family, struggled with sicknesses, dealt with financial losses, and fought ugly battles in your own homes. In such times, it is easy to internalize, and allow bitterness to set in. However, it is far better to go the righteous Judge and ask specifically to avenge you of the one who has been messing with you in your most vulnerable times. Yes, this is the year that we cry out – like the woman before the judge – for vengeance. This year, let us trust God to recover all that was stolen.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19).
“And they cried out in a loud voice, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You avenge our blood and judge those who dwell upon the earth?” (Revelation 6:10).
Friends, the adversary who attacked you, stole from you, and hurt you, stirred the anger of God. The pain you felt should have stirred a wailing in your spirit – a grief that can be heard from heaven. This is what we do in supplication – we plead in desperation. The same is done in intercession when we plead for others. When will we let out our cry – our heart-felt “groaning which cannot be uttered” in clear words? Did you not feel the weight of 2022 in the world? The debauchery, immorality, persecution, and endless controversies? Is there no cry left in the church? Is there no plea for the injustice? Is there a rush to spirit-led prayer, or will we just sit here, and bleed? No friends. We will not just sit here.
This Saturday, we are praying for 24 hours. You probably already have your time slot. Let us expect God to answer us, speedily and let 2023 be a year of justice for the elect who cry out to Him day and night. Here are some thigs we ought to pray on:
· Pray for the church, worldwide. There are more persecuted in the faith than at any other time in history.
· Pray for America. We have taken a left turn that I am concerned will not be corrected. May God give us one more chance.
· Pray for First Love Fellowship. I’m not sure if you have noticed, but we were hit from several different directions this year, and it was hard. This was by far, the most difficult of our four years of existence. Let us remove strife, needless controversies, and financial setbacks.
· Pray for Pastor Niral and Ose, our marriage, and our families. Caring for aging parents, managing family issues, financial issues, health issues, and relationships that have fallen apart for no good reason. Sometimes we are counseling and praying for you over things we are fighting, ourselves – and God answers our prayer for you, while we wait for our answer!
· Pray for FLF Leaders in Tulsa: Aaron and Desiree Soap, Krystal Thomas, and Inelda Holtzhausen. We ask a lot of them, and they are delivering. They need our support.
· Pray for FLF Leaders in MD: Tomi Oyegbola, Maria Makinde, Murielle Joseph, and Tanisha Grey. They are rising to the occasion, and are not drawing back.
· Pray for Truthy Womugaso, Deliver Hope Uganda, The Demand Project girls, and those living on the street who attend our church, The Merchant, every week.
Then, pray for yourself, specifically. Pray for the vengeance of our God. Without airing your judgments against others, ask God to fight for you – to deliver you from your adversaries. Pray earnestly, here. Supplicate as the scripture says: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:1).
Quiet. Peace. Let’s fight for that reality in 2023. Even as the world is in turmoil, we will be blessed. We will be avenged. We will walk by faith, demonstrating it by crying out to God, day and night.
Let us pray. We are here for such a time as this.