Jesus quite frequently spoke to the crowd and to His disciples in parables. This was not only to keep the unbelieving from knowing the kingdom of God, but also to train His disciples for wisdom and dependence upon God. He revealed the meaning of the parables to the latter so that they would see the purpose of God toward mankind. Even now-a-days many do not understand parables; neither do they consider them pivotal for wisdom and dependence upon God. Jesus used parables to separate the believing from the unbelieving. He used them to encourage His followers and to show them the benefits of being in God’s kingdom. Through them He taught His followers everything necessary; He did not leave anything. “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
This teaching of Jesus is perhaps the most overlooked and misunderstood in the churches. It is something different to whatever He said concerning prayer at other times; it is deeper. First of all, He did not intend it for unbelievers. He indicates that life on earth is not as easy as it appears and that there will be troublesome times and times of need. If someone is His follower, he or she should pray at all times and not be discouraged. He is telling us to pray until we find an answer. At the same time, He is indicating that there will be times when God delays His answer to us. Sometimes God desires we compel Him to answer. It is not that He is stubborn or inconsiderate, but that our striving for His help would give us an insurmountable confidence and joy in His answer. Many Christians overlook and misunderstand it. They do not walk the distance to find His answer; still others seek to nullify the need to do so. These are nominal Christians. When Jesus told the disciples “they ought to pray,” He basically said there is no other way to get around their troubles and needs. And when He said “at all times,” He meant at every given situation where we have to make a choice for pleasing the Lord and at every time we see the need to overcome.
Ignoring Jesus’ words means we are bound to lose heart. Then, the outcome is inevitable. We seek the ways of the world, allow our flesh to lead us and end up in a worse situation. We look back and think of the mistake we made in not waiting for the Lord’s answer. The Lord who is gracious upon our repentance will still deliver us. Yet, by that juncture, we would have lost time, blessings and peace. In order that we avoid such great pain, He beforehand said that we ought to pray at all times. Corresponding to this, He spoke the parable of the widow, who sought the arrogant judge to give her legal protection from her opponent. As many times as he sent her away, she came back with the same request. He, not wanting to be bothered by her any more, remembered that which God would do for His elect and gave her justice. He said to himself that even God does not delay long in providing justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night. We are His elect and He certainly hears our plea when we pray to Him. Do you need to overcome sins or a sin? Do you need to prevail over a situation in your life? Do you want to be blessed in a manner which God appointed for people? Then follow Christ’s principle and you will see the fruit.
One cannot make it a habit to pray to God once or twice and expect a matter to be settled. The key here is to understand the words “at all times.” It means we habitually pray. It means we are used to overcoming situations and are not perturbed when we are to overcome them. This requires we habitually spent time with God in private whether or not there is a situation or need. Only in such practice we find the calmness to converse with Him when a situation arises. We will have the belief that He will not deny us. Without such practice we lose control of our mind and cannot fully devote ourselves in prayer. Panic takes over us and our prayers are hindered. Instead of seeing the Lord work for us, we lead ourselves into greater trouble. So, we see the Lord’s people always looking for a time to pray. “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled” (Acts 16:13).
Once they believed in Jesus it became their nature to pray at all times. Wherever they went, they sought a quiet time for prayer. Although Paul, Silas and Luke ended up speaking the gospel to women and converting them, they did not cease to pray. They continued to go to the place of prayer. On their way up there Paul healed a slave-girl possessed by a demon. Because of this, he and Silas were thrown into prison. Still, they prayed and sang songs of praise to God; we know what took place. And the jailor and his household were saved. Paul and Silas were released after having giving great trouble to the magistrates. We have seen three events take place and all were through prayer. They brought glory to God. Praying at all times is not easy, but with the fruit it brings it becomes an endearing work. So, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20).
To heed the words of Christ is mature thinking. It is for your benefit. God in Christ wants you to be in peace and happiness. He wants you to obey Him at all times. And He knows how difficult the world and Satan can make it for you to obey Him. He knows that you are to overcome them in order to walk with Him and to receive all the wonderful things He reserved for you. So, He gave you (me) a pattern. The often and longer we pray to Him, the more infants like we shall be in evil. To pray without devotion and heart is being like children in thinking. We know how children think. It is wayward. Many times it displays foolishness. They revert to the same mistakes, as they do not discern. It is their nature. For this reason, parents discipline them, teach and guide them. But we are mature, not only in the flesh, but more so in Christ. We are with such maturity that our focus is only on obeying His Word. Any man or doctrine teaching us to do against that which Christ instructed is falsity and we are to abstain from them. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
The moment we begin paying attention to them Satan lures us away from the will of Christ. He lures us away from all the plans God has for us in Christ. Our time, strength and potential will be wasted. The life which we could have had we will never see. Though we do not yet know the kind of life we would have or see in Christ, that God does justice to those who cry to Him day and night is the promise of Christ that gives us confidence for a wonderful life reserved for us. Having hope in such promise by faith will certainly allow us to see that life. The apostles along with Silas, Timothy and the churches they built saw it. So, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons should not be our kind of work. It is the work of those who fall away from the faith. These have never entered the faith, but that they fall away from it means they abstain themselves from it. They have chosen to hear the voice of deceitful spirits and the doctrine of demons. Though the gospel of Christ comes into their midst, they will not accept it; for they are keen for the pleasures of falsity than embracing the faith.
As for us, we have been following our Lord. “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD’” (Heb. 10:7). We too are with the same mind, i.e. to do the will of God. In fact, it is our prayer to Him that we do His will no matter what. Jesus is the only example to us to know the mystery in pleasing God. I say mystery, because those who do not intend to practice His words cannot know how to please God. If Jesus said we ought to pray at all times, we should do so. He did not say it without a reason. He gave us commandments along with the freedom to keep them; that freedom is in prayer. When we are determined to have His mind, God will be our intimate friend. So, the Spirit says, “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Let not the spirit of antichrist come into you. For it is the worst thing that can happen to you. It will tear you apart. At the beginning everything seems well, but it will slowly destroy you. And when the consequences of that spirit fall upon you, you will feel all hell break loose on you. The nature of the spirit of antichrist is that, as the word itself suggests, it works against Christ. It is an attitude that says ‘I do not want to listen to Christ.’ Many are living with this attitude, though they profess to be Christians. No matter how well they project themselves to the rest, that attitude will always emit their true nature. But, you stick to the words of Christ. Be in the habit of praying to God. If you have not been doing so, cultivate it as quickly as possible. You will see God habitually on your side. For by it a man of God lived to tell us the following. “I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren” (2 Cor. 11:26). O, what a wondrous God we have at our side!