And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. (Luke 18:1)
The seventeenth chapter of Luke ends with a discourse on the last days and the fact that Jesus would be coming again. And He likened the last days to the days of Noah, that they would be difficult days — days that would not be conducive to faith. So now He talks to them about a life of faith in days that are devoid of faith. That is the reason it is so pertinent for this hour. We are living in days, as He indicated, when men's hearts are failing them for fear. What we have in the first parable of Luke 18 is a pertinent paragraph on prayer for the present hour. Notice that He says He spoke a parable to them to this end; that is, for this purpose, that men should always pray, and not to faint.
He opens two alternatives to any man who is living in difficult days. You and I will have to do one of the two. You will have to make up your mind which you are going to do. Men in difficult days will either faint or they will pray. Either there will be days of fear or days of faith.
During World War II, when the bombing was so intense on the city of London, a sign appeared in front of one of the churches in London that read, "If your knees knock together, kneel on them!" That is practically a restatement of what our Lord has said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
It is the same thought that Paul put a little differently, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This does not mean you are to go to an all-day or all-night prayer meeting. Prayer is an attitude of the life. It is more an attitude of life than an action of the lips. Remember that Paul said to the Romans, "...the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). That is, they cannot be put into our words. And many times we do not have the words to pray, but we are praying nonetheless. And it is the entire life that is behind the words which are spoken that makes prayer effective.
There was a famous preacher, years ago in the state of Georgia, who had many very unusual expressions. One of them was this, "When a man prays for a corn crop, God expects him to say Amen with a hoe." You can't just stay on your knees all the time and pray for a corn crop. That's pious nonsense. But to pray for the corn crop and then go to work is the thing our Lord is talking about in days when men's hearts are failing them. "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
—From Edited Messages on Luke by J. Vernon McGee