By Brooke Holt
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” - Luke 18:1-8
What is your posture toward prayer? Do you bring your requests before God once and leave those requests there? Do you assume God already knows what you need so why bother asking? Or do you persevere in prayer—do you come before the Father again and again making your supplications before him?
Christians have many views of prayer and God, some right and some completely wrong. Jesus is teaching his disciples about prayer in this parable of the persistent widow. The widow is desperate for justice, and she comes repeatedly before the judge to plead for that justice. Unfortunately, the judge does not seem to be the most upright and honorable man; yet, due to her persistent petitioning, the judge gives this widow what she has requested.
Jesus would contrast this judge with the heavenly Father. Where the judge was selfish and lacking in justice and honor, the heavenly Father is always looking after his beloved children and is perfect in administering justice as well as perfectly honorable in his character. If this earthly and sinful judge will answer the pleas of the widow, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father answer the prayers of his children?
In this parable, Jesus not only gives you permission to be tenacious in your prayers but to keep coming back to him. He is not offended when you ask the second time or the tenth time or the hundredth time. He loves your heart and loves your authenticity. Does this love mean he will answer every prayer as you would like? No—but not because he is not good —but because he is perfect in wisdom and understanding, and you are not. There are times when the Lord will not give in to your requests as they do not align with his perfect will and plan.
As Garth Brooks sang, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs that just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers” (“Unanswered Prayers” written by Dylan Miller). While we could have a theological debate about whether God is truly answering (often his answer is no, not yet, or I have something better), there are many times I have asked for things I truly wanted. God said no, and as I look back, I so appreciate his no!
What is your posture in prayer today? What does God want it to be? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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