“Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’” Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for His chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t He stick up for them? I assure you, He will. He will not drag His feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when He returns?” – Luke 18:1-8 (MSG)
Terry and I went through the drive through. Terry got a chocolate sundae, since I was driving and not hungry, I got nothing. I wasn’t hungry until I saw Terry’s sundae. I asked him for one bite. He ignored me. I asked again and his reply was a glib, “Why didn’t you order something?” I quickly spilled out all the reasons I didn’t order. I’m sure I sounded like an auctioneer—I knew I needed to make my plea quickly because Terry didn’t stop eating during my diatribe. My final plea was, “I don’t know why you can’t give me ONE bite!”
Terry stopped eating, looked at me and quietly said what he was thinking, “If I give you a bite, will you shut up?” “YES!!!” I exclaimed. We both burst out in uproarious laughter—Terry and I are the perfect mates for each other!
I truly enjoyed my bite of sundae.
Jesus tells a story to help the listeners understand the need for persistence in prayer. There are details in this story that could easily slip by those of us living in the western culture of the 21st century. For those listening as Jesus spoke, the details of this story would pique their interest.
Without a Voice
Widows had no voice in the culture of the 1st century. A widow would never experience “her day in court,” in the formal court setting. This widow was pestering the judge on his time. Perhaps it was as the judge walked to and from work. Maybe she called out her injustice for all in the street to hear. Regardless of how she accomplished it, she was relentless. Her desperate need drove her to repeated petition.
Jesus uses different words than I would to describe the judge. I would say something like; there was a judge who was a huge jerk. Lest you think the widow represents you and me and the judge represents God, I’ll refer you back to a previous, similar story of Jesus in Luke 11. God is good. He is just. He longs to meet the needs of His children.
The Importance of Persistent Prayer
Before telling this story, Jesus tells His listeners it only takes a small amount of faith, He tells them perilous, unjust, and terrible times will come. Then Jesus tells them the importance of consistent and persistent prayer.
It is easy to have the injustice, suffering, and evil in the world drive you to your knees in prayer. It’s more difficult to continue to pray when it seems like there is no answer. Jesus’ conclusion takes the form of a question—are you willing to continue to pray when your timeline and God’s time line aren’t in synchronization?
Jesus is telling His followers to continue to pray when circumstances don’t make sense. Jesus is telling His followers to be like the widow—one without station, one without rights to request relief or justice, one without means to change her situation—but one who would not stop asking. Jesus was telling His followers to have the faith it takes to keep asking when there is no immediate answer. Trust to the end, when the Son of Man comes—pray through the dark night—replace despair with faith that God will make injustice into justice and sorrow into joy.
Never stop praying—persistence pays.
Father, teach me the discipline of consistent and persistent prayer. Help me focus on You as I pray. Teach me Your attributes and convince me of Your love for me. I will rest in Your love, grace and the promise of Your mercy.