And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;…
1. There Is the objection that, God having infinite wisdom to determine what is best, and almighty power to accomplish His decree, there is nothing for His creatures to do but submit with reverence and trust. If prayer cannot change His mind, it is useless, and, moreover, an impertinence; if it could, it would be a loss, since it would involve a sacrifice of greater wisdom to less — a result which can only be conceived of as a punishment. The answer to this is, that God in giving human beings a real freedom, a power to choose whether certain events shall be one way or the other, has really, so far as we can see, for wise purposes, limited His own. In short, there is a margin of greater or less good, of manageable error, of permissible evil, which God can set apart for our freedom to exercise itself in, without the world escaping His control. The premise, therefore, from which this objection starts, that "whatever is, is best," is not true in the large sense of those words. Whatever is best under all the circumstances, under the circumstances of our crime, negligence, or error, but not the best that might have been had we reached forth our hand to take what lay within our power. It may be better if we do not pray, that we should miss some blessings God has in reserve for those who seek Him in love and trust, but this is not the best that might have been. It is the will of God in relation to our negligence; but our trust and importunity would have called into action a higher and more generous law of His loving nature.
2. The next objection is that of the imagination filled and overpowered by the thought of the vastness of the material universe. "Do you suppose," men ask, "that a petty, individual life, a worm crawling on the surface of one of His smallest planets, can be an object of particular consideration and interest to the Almighty Creator?" Why not? Is the Almighty Ruler compelled to distinguish between imperial and provincial cares like an earthly monarch? Because He is here with some suffering infant, taking its inarticulate moan into His mighty and pitiful heart, is He less in the planet Neptune, or is His power withdrawn from the glowing masses of future worlds? There is no egotism in thinking that man — any man — is more important in the Divine regard than a mass of matter, however long it has lain under the Creator's eye, and however much it may impose upon our imagination.
3. Practical hindrances to prayer are found where the speculative barriers we have been considering do not exist. Mental indolence is one .of the greatest of these hindrances, and mental indolence is a much more prevalent and serious fault than bodily indolence. No one can really pray without using his understanding, engaging his affections, and making an effort of will. Prayer is work, and hard work. We must go to the Saviour, and ask His aid. "Lord, teach us to pray."
(E. W. Shalders, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;