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How to Pray

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Dive (6-8)Year 2Unit 5 (Does What I Do Make a Difference?)Session 4

How to Pray

I should pray from the heart, believing that God will listen.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Be reminded that God listens to our prayers.
  • Pray from the heart, sincerely and persistently, to the one true God.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

Luke says that Jesus told this parable to his disciples in order to show them that "they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1). This story, sometimes called the "Parable of the Unjust Judge," is a strange one.

And that's exactly how Jesus describes the judge. The judge doesn't care about God or anyone else but is interested only in his own comfort and position. When a widow comes to him, asking for her case to be heard, he ignores her, transferring her case to the bottom of the pile while making sure his cronies and supporters are taken care of.

He could do this because she was a woman and a widow. Women didn't have much of a place in that society, but at least a married woman had her husband to advocate for her. A widow was powerless, which is why the Bible so often talks about God caring for widows and orphans, two of the most defenseless classes of people.

But this widow doesn't just accept the judge's rebuff. She fights for her cause, pestering him continuously. Whenever the court opens, she is crying out for him to listen to her cause and render justice. Finally the irritation wears him down. Even though he doesn't care at all about her case, or even about justice being done, he decides to hear it because of her impertinent persistence. Jesus even seems to joke that the judge gives in "so she won't attack me." A big-time judge afraid of a little old widow!

As he does in in many other parables, Jesus uses the "how much more?" argument. If a judge who couldn't care less about anything but himself gives way to this persistent widow, how much more "will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?"

What does all this mean? This is what prayer is all about. It's depending on God, as though our life depends on it (which it does!) and never giving up. Does that imply that God would otherwise hold back, that God just wants to see how much it will take before we finally give up? That would be a cruel God indeed---not unlike the unjust judge in the parable.

What Jesus does mean is that God's timing isn't the same as ours and that his ways and reasons are unknowable to us. How and when God works are beyond us. But these things we do know: God is good. God is just. God is loving. And God keeps his promises. Our persistence is therefore born not of distrust but of trust. We trust God so much that we have no intention of giving up, so much that we persist in placing our needs before him in prayer.

Notice how Jesus ends the parable and its explanation: "However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" How does that fit? Ultimately, the answer to our prayers lies in the coming of God's kingdom when Jesus returns. Will he find faith? That is, will the faithful be persistent enough to trust that God will bring about justice and righteousness, that in the end death will be defeated and every tear wiped away? Keep looking; keep praying.

  • Why did the judge finally give in?

  • Why did the widow persist despite the judge’s indifference?

  • What for you is the biggest barrier to persistence in prayer?

  • Emphasize that this is a story Jesus told, and try to imagine the reaction of his audience while he told it. Also make sure you point out “how much more” God, who is good and trustworthy, will honor our persistent prayers.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • word smart
  • ​​people smart

As you prepare to continue to talk today about prayer, engage your group in conversation about things they’ve prayed in the past. Start by telling a story about a time when you had to pray for something persistently before you felt that God answered your prayer.

Draw or display a copy of today’s story symbol, pleading hands. Invite the group to share stories about times when they’ve had to pray repeatedly for something. Did they ever feel as though God just wasn’t listening? On the other hand, did they ever see their prayers answered?

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