December 13, 2016

Justice and Intercessory Prayer

Some mornings I am eager to pray because the needs are definite. This time my burden is the result of a conversation with another Christian who is caught up in worldly ideas. He is also trying to change things without a biblical mandate or power from God. While he wants to fight for justice, he has not sought the will of God on his concerns or prayed about any part of it.

Oddly enough, (I love God’s ‘coincidences’) this passage is discussed in today’s devotional reading . . .

And (Jesus) told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1–8)

Our ultimate resource for justice is the mercy and power of God. Humanly speaking, most folks, even judges, are not concerned unless lack of justice is affecting them personally or financially. As the widow in the above parable, we are most likely to cry out when someone treats us unjustly.

To his credit, the Christian I talked to yesterday has higher concerns. He is upset about unjust events in our world and by those who are supposed to fight against those things, not participate in them. While this has been a concern for ages, and while most of us have no power to change it, he would like to — but instead has become extremely frustrated.

In reading this parable told by Jesus, I’ve often wondered about the last line that asks if Jesus will return and find faith on the earth. Now I see why Jesus asked it. My Christian friend needs a faith-boost. He thinks he can fix things, but when crying out for justice, he and all of us need to make sure our cries are going to the One who can make it happen. Yes, we need to do our part and treat others justly, but only God can change the hearts of those outside of our influence. This requires prayer, and prayer requires faith. Whether or not Jesus is coming soon, He always looks for faith on earth.

I cannot pray for justice or anything else unless I believe in the reality of what God can do. Prayerful Intercession for the people and situations that trouble me is strenuous. It takes time and genuine effort to seek the will of God for those situations and for the people involved. Not only is it hard work to pray this way, it is also hard work to shut out the ideas of the world, my own desire for personal comfort, and my emotions about these issues. Sometimes, as Chambers says, these issues can be so crushing that I cannot get through to the reality of what is going on and to the mind of God on that reality.

Chambers also says that Christians often shirk this intimacy with God by getting busy. We even try to fix things rather than seeking His intervention in prayer that is faith-filled and based on a totally open and trusting relationship. Yes, God might ask me to do something, but there are literally millions of issues for which I’ve no power, authority, ability, or opportunity to become involved. Only God can do it all.

That means I must pray. When I pray knowing that God can redeem anyone or anything for His purposes, God creates something He can create in no other way because He chooses to do it through intercessory prayer.

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