THE PARABLE OF PRAYER
Illustrating the Need of Importunity
"And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall
go unto him at
midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend
of mine in his journey is
come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall
answer and say,
Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed;
I cannot rise and give
thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because
he is his friend, yet because of
his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." (Verses
1. Importunity. Greek anaideia, means barefacedness. It suggests the
thought of holy
boldness, persistency, it is true, as we shall see presently; but it also
honesty and sincerity as to one's need. It is to say, " I have not a crumb
for my friend. I must have
help, for I must help him." Make the spiritual application.
2. Importunity in prayer made possible the answer, not friendship --
"Not because he is his
friend but because of his importunity." It is thus clear that while friendship
was important it was
more important that there should be importunity.
3. Importunity in prayer involves the apparent silence and apparent
indifference of God --
"Who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them." God may
be silent but He
hears. He will answer in His own time, provided we are importunate.
Is He indifferent? "Let me alone." No, God is not indifferent. He looked
importunity of His servant, Moses, and answered. He is not indifferent
to our plea. He will
answer. "Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto
Him, though He bear
long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."
4. Importunity in prayer involves the countenance in intercession --
"Smote thrice and
stayed." (2 Kings 13:18). The necessity of continuance in intercession
gave rise to the parable
recorded in Luke, chapter eighteen. "And He spake a parable unto them to
this end, that men ought
always to pray and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which
feared not God, neither
regarded man; and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him,
saying, Avenge me of
mine adversary. And he would not for awhile; but afterwards he said within
himself, Though I fear
not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me I will avenge
her, lest by her
continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust
judge sayeth. And shall
not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though
He hear long with them? I
tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of
man cometh, shall He
find faith on the earth?" Shall He find people pressing their claims in
this manner? Shall He find
His people continuing in intercession, and not fainting?
The biographer of Payson says, "His continuing instant in prayer, be
what they might, is the most noticeable fact in his history, and points
out the duty of all who would
rival his eminency. To his ardent and persevering prayers must no doubt
be ascribed in a great
measure his distinguished and most uninterrupted success." It is recorded
that the Marquis
DeRenty, to whom Christ was most precious, ordered his servant to call
him from his devotions at
the end of half an hour. The servant at the time saw his face through an
aperture. It was marked
with such holiness that he hated to arouse him. His lips were moving, but
he was perfectly silent.
He waited until three half hours had passed; then he called to him, when
he arose from his knees,
saying that the half hour was so short when he was communing with Christ.
Prayer," Page 50).
5. Importunity in prayer involves soul agony -- "Labouring (agonizing)
for you in prayer,"
said Paul. (Col. 4:12). St. James in speaking about Elijah's prayer said,
"He prayed earnestly,"
literally, "with prayer he prayed," that is, in his prayer he really prayed;
and something happened.
A good illustration of one pressing his petition in soul agony is recorded
in Brainerd's life,
"Feeling somewhat of the sweetness of communion with God and the constraining
force of His
love, and how admirably it captivates the soul and makes all the desires
and affections to center in
God, I set apart this day for secret fasting and prayer, to entreat God
to direct and bless me with
regard to the great work which I have in view of preaching the gospel,
and that the Lord would
return to me and show me the light of His countenance. I had little life
and power in the forenoon.
Near the middle of the afternoon God enabled me to wrestle ardently in
intercession for my absent
friends, but just at night the Lord visited me marvelously in prayer. I
think my soul was never in
such agony before. I felt no restraint, for the treasures of divine grace
were opened to me. I
wrestled for absent friends, for the ingathering of souls, for multitudes
of poor souls, and for many
that I thought were the children of God, personally, in many distant places.
I was in such agony
from sun half hour high till near dark, that I was all over wet with sweat,
but yet it seemed to me I
had done nothing. O, my dear Saviour did sweat blood for poor souls! I
long for more compassion
toward them. I felt still in a sweet frame, under a sense of divine love
and grace, and went to bed
in such a frame, with my heart set on God."
6. Importunity in prayer makes possible the preaching of the gospel
with power -- "And
when they had prayed the place was shaken where they were assembled together;
and they were all
filled with the Holy Ghost and they spake the word of God with boldness
. . . . and with great
power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
and great grace was upon
them all." (Acts 4:31, 33). "Praying always with all prayer and supplication
in the Spirit . . . And
for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly
to make known the
mystery of the gospel." (Eph. 6:18, 19).
7. Importunity in prayer makes possible a victorious Church -- This
is the history of the
Acts of the Apostles. The Church had power with God in prayer. They prayed
it through, and
victory was sure. Take the case of Peter's miraculous release from prison.
"Peter therefore was
kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto
God for him." (Acts 12:5).
And out he came. "And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and
a light shined in the
prison: and he smote Peter, on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise
up quickly. And his
chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself,
and bind on thy sandals.
And he did so. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garments about thee, and
follow me. And he went
out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by
the angel; but thought he
saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came
unto the iron gate that
leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord; and they
went out, and passed on
through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him." What are
imprisonment and iron
gates to God when the Church really prays.