Jesus told a story in Luke 18:1-8 that should cause all of us to pause and honestly look at our relationship with God and our prayer life. Luke tells us the purpose of the parable is that men ought always to pray, and not lose heart.
We live in a world today where technology has harmed us. How? Because we don’t know how to wait. We want fast service in a food restaurant, and when we have to wait for more than ten minutes, we let the world know about it. We are used to looking things up on the internet, and when the internet speed is slow, or non-existent, we huff because we can’t get the information we want now. We tire of waiting at a two-minute traffic light – we can’t wait in a doctor’s office – my time is valuable, I want it now. And Jesus teaches us that when it comes to prayer, we have to keep praying, and keep praying, and keep praying about the same thing time and again.
The two main characters in the parable are the unjust judge, and a poor widow.
The judge might set up a tent, and be surrounded by his assistants, who would decide when the judge saw the plaintiffs and defendants. He was important – he did not care about anyone or anything. He was a judge who did not fear God or man – some think that he was not trusted in justice because he was interested in bribes.
Then there was the widow – she had nothing, no way to bribe the judge to get the justice she sought. But she did have persistence. The Greek word used to talk about her coming to him is in the present tense, meaning she kept coming and kept coming and kept coming . . . She would come to see him daily – she would meet him in the street, she may have camped out at his home or his place of abode. She did not stop “pestering” (is this a good word to use?) him until he listened to her. Finally the judge says, “. . .yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Luke 18:5).
Jesus argues from the lesser (the unjust judge) to the greater (God who loves and cares deeply for all men, and especially for his people).
Perseverance takes the long-term perspective. It focuses on the future, and is patient when things take longer than we think they ought to take. Sometimes we have to WAIT (OH NO!) to discover the nature of things. Many would and did consider Jesus’ ministry a failure when it ended on the cross – think about the apostles and the upper room. But then Sunday came and everything changed!
We don’t talk about perseverance in things we enjoy – we will gladly watch a three hour plus football game and rejoice because it goes into overtime. Do we enjoy time with God? Do we hope that it never ends? We get a glimpse now of heaven when we pray, and keep praying.
There is to much at stake to quit praying. “Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” If it is important enough to pray about, it is important enough to keep praying about.
Don’t give up when circumstances seem to be against you. The widow kept coming and kept coming. She may have been in complete desperation and had no other recourse. Why do we often wait until things get bleak before we pray, and then get upset when we don’t receive the answer we think we need?
Don’t give up – the answer may be around the corner. The judge finally said, “I will avenge her lest her continual coming weary me.” Aren’t you glad that GOD does not grow weary in listening to us? Sometimes we think he does, but our loving Father will never grow weary hearing our prayers. Do we really believe this?
God is working out the answer. We mistake delay for denial. God is not unjust – HE WILL JUDGE RIGHTEOUSLY IN HIS TIME.
When Jesus comes, will he find faith on earth? Two points – When, not IF he comes. Will he find faith? Faith is tied to prayer in this passage – do we have enough faith to pray until we receive an answer?