The persistent widow…
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up Luke 18:1
It is a very rare person indeed that doesn’t at some point or another in life feel like giving up. Whether it be receiving an exam mark that was worse than expected, being criticised for doing something or even parenting a teenage child who insists on not listening and learning the hard way. Life provides a non-stop supply of potentially disappointing moments in which expectations can be challenged and we figuratively throw our hands up and declare “That’s it, I’ve had enough, I quit”.
Prayer can be even more challenging because the very nature of prayer is that it is deals in the unseen realm. We speak words from our heart to our God who is unseen. He who is unseen, answers in ways that we can’t always perceive and in time-frames that sometime perplex us. Most humans love to be able to see a problem, define it and take tangible steps to fix it and fit it now. Prayer often doesn’t work that simply.
Jesus understood these dynamics of the human heart when faced with difficulties to both feel like giving up or trying and solve our own problems. Jesus therefore addressed this with his disciples and encouragement them into a lifestyle of deeper prayer. He told a story to his followers of a widow. This widow had been wronged in some way and she wasn’t about to go away quietly. To all appearances she looked as one without power and influence but yet she had an ace up her sleeve.
She knew who she should ask to change the situation. She knew who was more powerful than herself. So, she would present herself before the local judge and would make this simple plea ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ She also knew that sometimes wheels turn slowly and that she should just keep asking and not give up and then she would gain the answer she was looking for.
The message Jesus wanted to get to the disciples then and now was simple. We pray to a powerful God who can and does act upon human history and situations. Not only that but this God has designed prayer to be an ongoing expression rather than a one-off event. The disciples got the message that they should pray about any and everything and that they should never ever give up.
Is there a situation in your life that seems too hard for prayer? Is there something that seems overwhelming or something that just won’t seem to shift? Our encouragement from Jesus’ parable is to take these impossible requests to a God who is the most powerful person in the universe. He is a God who delights in answering prayers and he delights in the relationship that continued prayer creates. We are encouraged to continue in that place of prayer until ‘justice is granted’.