Troubling Prayer

under wave

Luke 18:5 ‘yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’

I used to love to play in the ocean. At one point in my life, I lived on Pensacola Beach, the surf only a block away. It was a thrill for me to get in the biggest waves I could find, to feel it pull my feet through the sand as it crested and then to either plow through its surge or body-surf it to the shore. But more than a few times I’ve been buried under waves forceful enough to push me to the sand floor like a rag doll. In those moments of feeling disoriented and out of control, I would open my eyes to look for sunlight. I knew one thing for sure. I’d have to swim toward the sun to find my next breath.

At the mission, I meet many people buried under waves of discouragement, that kind of depressing deflation that feels like the wind’s been punched out, disoriented and unable to find the next breath. What do you do? It may seem too simple an answer, but Jesus says to pray.

It’s the reason He taught this Persistent Widow parable. He didn’t want his disciples to be discouraged. Rather, He said, “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

But let’s qualify that a bit. Pray how? The parable says the widow “troubled” the judge for justice until she received it from him.

Feeling discouraged? Trouble the Judge for justice. Trouble Him with prayer.

Some versions read that the widow “bothered” “persisted” or “pestered” the judge until she received justice. But the word “troubled” seems most fitting.

The Greek is κόπος (kópos). It means to beat, wail or grieve beating the chest.

He wants you to do more than just lick your own wounds or  wish you were in a different situation or numb your pain with some superficial pleasure.

He wants you to trouble Him.

Beat against heaven’s door. Wail for the repair of your soul. Pound His chest for justice. He can take it.

One night in my teenage years, I was at a friend’s house. We were in the living room goofing around when we saw car lights followed by a knock at the door. My friend’s mother opened the door to an officer and a priest charged with communicating the devastating news. Her 19 year old daughter had just died in a car wreck. I’ll never forget how she wailed, how she beat against the officer as she collapsed under a wave of grief that for most is unimaginable.

She got buried under the wave.

I just learned of a lady who’s been buried under one after her son, addicted to K2, shot himself. She admits sometimes she wanders aimlessly.  This happened in a store recently before she collapsed on one of their display beds and wept until she was helped out the door.

She’s buried under the wave, too, disoriented and breathless. When you’re there like her, there’s only one way to keep from drowning.

Trouble God in prayer like you’d swim to the surface for air. He’s your next breath.

Do you believe it?

Jesus concludes with that very question, wondering if He will find such faith on earth when He returns (v. 8). Faith to trouble Him? Yes, like everything depends on it and no one else has it.

Don’t miss it. He’s connecting your deliverance from discouragement to your kópos-prayer and that prayer to your faith.

Why else would a person beat and wail in troubling prayer but out of an unwavering belief that He alone has your next breath waiting on top of the water?

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