Yesterday I attended a conference and one of the speakers shared a thought on Luke 18:1 about praying and not fainting. With circumstances in the world such as they are, I thought it was a timely message and decided to look a little deeper at this topic.
Luke 18:1 is the start of the parable of the unjust judge and the woman who had been wronged who came to him repeatedly until he gave satisfaction to her cause. The judge said within himself that he didn’t fear God or man but would take action “lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
Then the Lord explained the parable this way:
7. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily…
So what does it mean to pray always and faint not?
It seems obvious what this commandment phrase means and yet I think very few people have viewed it in the way it may have actually been intended.
Do we go about our day in a stupor of “OK, what’s next on my list to accomplish today?”
Or do we continually think about the Lord, praying for his guidance and help on the current task at hand, and then pause when complete to thank him for the assistance rendered with that project and inquire as to what we should do next? Do we pray ALWAYS, without ceasing, praising God for everything including the technology to send our thoughts over the globe through the medium of the internet, or utilizing the medium of the spirit to receive direction and assistance from him? The word always is a game changer and requires us to engage in much more than morning and evening prayers.
A search for “pray always” with quote marks to make it an exact search, shows 15 results in the scriptures. Here are the reasons that accompany the command to pray always.
Developing a habit of constant prayerful attitude puts our heart and mind in sync with the Spirit of the Lord and provides protection and guidance as long as we heed its warnings.
(You may want to turn that list into a collection note after doing a search for “pray always” verses)
What does it mean to faint? The word has definitions of being exhausted and weary, but there is one more definition in the Greek for the use of this word, which is to be utterly spiritless, or to fail in heart.
When Christ said in the last days that men’s hearts would fail them, I think he was talking about this kind of faint. People are giving up. It’s easier to live in fear and do nothing, instead of praying for strength and mounting on wings of eagles to do something.
When I think of the word weary, I remember the verses that remind us:
Galatians 6:9. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
The speaker yesterday that put me onto this topic also made a comment along the lines of “fear comes from not having something worth dying for, which also means you don’t have something worth living for.”
That caused me to do a quick “pulse check” and make sure I knew the things I would die for and also live for. With what’s coming, it would be easy to say, “I’d rather die than go through what’s coming,” but I want to be in Zion and be blessed to live during the millennium. This is no time to get weary and faint. There is a great work to do. It’s what we signed up for before this life and we wanted the faith stretching experience.
With the understanding above, now it’s time to take a closer look at the verses that mention prayer and fainting. In Scripture Notes do a search for:
Pray* and faint*
There are only 8 results though I’m certain expanding the search for related terms would find more. Turn these into a collection note and save them with a title like “Pray Always and not Faint.” Give it tags of Prayer, Faint, Weary, Exhausted, and Giving Up. Maybe Strength as well because praying always brings strength.
One of the verses in this result set is the prophet Jonah, who said he was in “the belly of hell.” No doubt he was, and no doubt many people find themselves feeling that way today.
7. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.
8. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
9. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
And when Jonah had come to this point, “the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
Jonah hit rock bottom, broken heart, contrite spirit, and turned to the only source of deliverance, and the Lord delivered him.
The Lord tells us that inasmuch as we pray always that we don’t faint, “[he] will be with [us] even unto the end.”
Which reminds me of the great scene of love at the end of the Return of the King movie where Frodo has “fainted” for strength and his loving companion Sam picks him up and carries him up the side of Mount Doom.
The Lord’s strength is boundless, but our mortal frailties are real. It is easy to overextend ourselves, but it’s also easy to underextend ourselves, doing less than we ought as Jonah initially sought to do with self-serving “lying vanities.” Jonah repented and told the Lord he would sacrifice. He came to realize what he was willing to die for, and what he was willing to live for, and then he did it.
One who didn’t was Esau. When he came in weary one day, he said to his brother Jacob:
30. …Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint…
31. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33. And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34. …thus Esau despised his birthright.
Esau didn’t know what he was willing to die for, so he lived for pleasures of the world and gave up this great blessing.
The Lord warns us that in the last days things are going to get bad. When confronted, many people won’t know what they are willing to live or die for. They will turn to the beast, accept his mark, and gratefully continue on in an existence of deception. Fear does this to them because they lack faith in the Lord God of Israel to deliver them either to eternal glory, or to mortal protection.
In D&C 88:126, the Lord tells us those who pray always and keep moving forward in unweariness, will be received.
126. Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.
This verse reminds me of the great gift to Nephi we read about in Helaman 10:4-5 where the Lord beholds how Nephi has with “unwearyingness” declared the word unto the people and had not sought his own life. He knew what he was willing to live and die for.
Now back to the parable that started this. The Lord tells us that even an unjust judge will eventually satisfy the needs of those who weary him with their pleadings. The Lord also tells us in the scriptures that when we have taken all the appropriate channels we can to make our case, we can present the evidence to him, the just judge,
90. And in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers;
92. Pray ye, therefore, that their ears may be opened unto your cries, that I may be merciful unto them, that these things may not come upon them.
93. What I have said unto you must needs be, that all men may be left without excuse;
The time will soon arrive where the saints will learn to pray all day and night by necessity instead of convenience. It would be good of us to get this habit started. Learning this practice is perhaps the only protection we will have as we seek revelation and guidance through the challenges ahead. The blessings come through the challenge of learning to pray always and faint not. As Amulek taught, when we aren’t kneeling in prayer, have a constant prayer going with God.
Alma 34:27. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
(Featured Image by Piyapong Thongcharoen @ 123rf.com)
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