Faith on the Earth

Our God hears us and responds to our prayers.  Clearly, He does not always answer based on our schedule, according to our limited perspective, or merely because of our persistence.  This is the lesson from the familiar story of the resolute widow and the unjust judge.  If a wicked and uncaring human judge can respond to the cry of a desperate heart, surely our God hears the prayers of His children who cry out day and night. 

Jesus gave this parable because He wanted men “always to pray and not lose heart.”  After offering reassurance that God hears and responds to our prayers, Jesus asked this question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).  As we approach the end of days, we are assured that Jesus wants us to exhibit a living and enduring faith.

Faith = Prayer

Faith can be understood from various angles.  We are familiar with the definition given in Hebrews telling us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  The Bible says in numerous places that “the just shall live by faith.”  

Yet, in this story from Luke 18 we realize that the faith Jesus is looking for is actually an expression of believing, persevering prayer.  You could almost ask, “When He returns will He find a praying church? Will He find faithful, praying disciples? Will the intensity of our praying increase as we wait for His coming?”

Faith in a Righteous Judge

Our answers to prayer are not based on the abundance of our relentless demands.  Jesus addressed this in Matthew 6:7 when He warned His disciples to avoid a “heathen” way of praying, as they used vain repetitions because they thought they would “be heard for their many words.”  Rather, Jesus says, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8).  Our encouragement and endurance in prayer are based on the character of our “Father in Heaven” who is a watchful, compassionate, holy, and righteous judge.

Faith in a Sure Rewarder

Our prayers of faith are pleasing to God.  That is why He seeks this among His people in light of His return.  Hebrews 11:6 makes this clear: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Again, our faith is rooted in a clear understanding of His character (“believe that He is”) and a firm conviction that He rewards those who seek Him.  Notice the specific idea.  We are seeking Him, not just temporal answers or quick fixes.

His Return = Faith + Prayer

Perhaps the Apostle Peter had the Luke 18 parable in mind when he wrote about the connection between prayer and the end of this age.  He heard Jesus ask the question, “Will I find faith on the earth when I come?”  Listen to Peter’s words: “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).  Notice Peter’s urgency about prayer.  According to his admonition, God’s people should be praying more today than ever in history.

End Times = Serious + Watchful

So, what does it take to practice this praying faith that Jesus wants among His people upon His return? Peter gives two vital characteristic that we must pursue to increase our passion and practice of believing prayer.

The first is that we be “serious.”  The Greek term implies a sound mind, right thinking, and clear-headedness.   We need this urgent call to shake us from our cloudy thinking, confusion, and apathy about prayer in our day.  Prayer is the clarion call to the church in this age.  We are desperate for the supernatural empowerment, organic unity, divine direction, and bold witness that comes from the Spirit as we pray.

The second vital pursuit is watchfulness.  The original text implied the mindset of being alert, wakeful, and self-controlled.  Eugene Peterson translates it, “stay wide awake in prayer.”  Our day is not a day for drowsy, sleepy, dull-minded prayer.  We must be fully engaged.

What Kind of Prayer?

So, in light of Christ’s return we are to pray and not lose heart.  This is the exercise of real faith.  This is best done when we pray because of who He is (a righteous rewarder).  We should pray with even greater passion because the time is short.  However, both Luke 18:1 and 1 Peter 4:7 describe a very specific kind of prayer.

The Greek term is “proseuchomai.”  This is the idea of “praying to God” but is distinct from other New Testament words for prayer that refer to asking, desiring, or wishing.  This word refers to prayer as worship.  This praying is not attached so much to human need as to the pursuit of God Himself.

With that in mind, let us seek His face and not lose heart.  Let us increase our intentions with a serious and watchful mindset to worship our Lord in prayer.  This faith pleases God, and as we seek Him, He will prove Himself to be a rewarder in more ways than we can imagine.

Copyright © 2013 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.