We are living in desperate times—desperate, meaning a feeling showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with, like national debt, life-destroying typhoons, earthquakes, tsunami’s, war, terrorism, crime, economic and civil upheaval, and… unreliable political promises of peace and safety.

Earth’s history is filled with desperate times and desperate people confronted with hopelessness. Judas and Peter were both desperate at times. As were David (at Ziklag) and Saul (at Endor). And Elijah, who, desperate for rain prayed, and desperate for his life at Jezreel ran. The difference in each desperate crisis mentioned here was prayer… desperate prayer.

Jesus spoke to this need for desperate prayer in Luke 18:

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” “give up,” “despair” (TCNT, NKJV, NIV).

These words encourage us—when you are very sad or upset having little or no hope; when your situation is worse than bad; when you’re done with all of your strength and left with no desire—pray!

The words of Christ are followed by two stories that illustrate desperate prayer and what it means to not lose heart. In these two stories Jesus identified two types of prayer, one for civil justice and the other for personal and individual rescue.

In the first story of an unjust judge, Jesus nails it! This world is filled with leaders in positions of responsibility who do not fear God and do not regard people, that is, they do not “reference” people (the Greek here indicates a meaning of having no shame or not being put to shame regarding what they do to people). The only thing that motivates the unjust judge is how things will affect him. Self-centered actions verses other-centered actions—the very core of the great controversy between good and evil.

Earth’s history is filled with desperate times and desperate people confronted with hopelessness.

Jesus closes the first story with the assurance that prayer will finally prevail against injustice. In the end God will avenge all wrongs and He will do so speedily. So do not lose heart, God will come through. Our prayers for justice will be answered.

The second story is different than the first in at least one major way. It is more individual, more specific. It assures us that there are desperate prayers that are heard and answered immediately.

Some prayers are answered now and this is one of them. Sometimes we need help now. Not social justice, not making the world right—immediate help with an eternal consequence. This request does not require a process of time. Eternal life for one despairing person gets God’s immediate response.

Desperate times call for desperate prayers.


James Rafferty

James has spent more than 30 years preaching the gospel around the world in revival seminars and evangelistic meetings. He and his wife Risë have two adult children, Jeiel and Kierra.