I like to over complicate things. Let’s go back into my childhood. Let’s take a deep look into my thinking process. Let’s analyze every word this person said to me. Na, Jesus says. Let’s just start with prayer.
As I was going through seminary and pursuing a Master’s Degree in pastoral counseling, I was taught a principle I believe Jesus practiced, “Complicated problems don’t always require complicated solutions.”
I think that’s why it’s so easy to blow past Luke 18:1, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” To really appreciate what is being said here, we have to set the context at which Jesus is speaking these things.
In Luke 17:22, which is the beginning of the paragraph just before Luke 18:1, it states, “And [Jesus] said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.’ He then goes on to explain that tough times are ahead. He’s going to return to earth unexpectedly one day like a thief in the night, but before he does the earth is going to resemble the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:27-28). These men lived in evil times where the people hated God, thus seeking to live righteously in the lifetimes of Noah and Lot was extremely difficult. Jesus says all this to show his disciples there life is also going to get extremely difficult.
As Luke 18:1 begins, it becomes clear that he is still talking to his disciples. So as we read through Luke 18:1-8, we have to remember that the audience of Jesus’ parable is one that is dear to his heart. He’s talking directly to the men he has a personal relationship with, whom he cares about deeply; and he is preparing these men for the most difficult season of their life. The time of the crucifixion is just around the corner. So how does Jesus prepare them? He teaches them the importance of prayer.
It’s so uncomplicated we can skip right over it. But again, Jesus’ intentions for this parable are unmistakable, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). The NIV translates “not lose heart” as “not give up.” It seems we only have two options in life. Prayer or giving up.
Prayer is not a complicated solution, but that does not mean it can’t solve our complicated problems. In fact, Jesus assures us it will.