Prayer and Persistence

The main character, the widow, knows where to take her petition for justice – to the judge. She’s not presenting her plea to the merchant down the street. She understands that judge is the only one with the necessary authority and power to help her. It’s interesting that Jesus tells his parable to encourage his disciples to pray, not by using a benevolent figure to play the authority role, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son, but rather a wicked judge. He is trying to prove a point: if an unrighteous judge will give a woman he does not know justice just to shut her up, how much more will a righteous judge want to grant justice to his own children?

Of course, this sets off our “but that does not mean God will do anything you ask him” disclaimer. James warns us not to ask for things based on lustful and fleshly desires. So there go all our requests for a new BMW to drop in our garage, or any hope for single dude hipsters marrying Zooey Deschanel. We get that. God will not answer our “bad prayers”, but that does not mean that God not answering (or not yet answering) our prayers means that our requests are bad. If we pray for good things, we ought to expect results, right? Yes, the answer to our prayers can sometimes be that we change and not our circumstances, but come on. We pray for cancer to be healed, for people to be saved, for things to happen in real time and space, not just in some floaty “spiritual” way. The widow is praying for her circumstances. She’s praying for an answer. Give me justice.

Will he delay long over them? No. Jesus is not the same as saying he will give you exactly what you want when you want, but he is saying he wants you to bother him about it. The parable is not about shooting out haphazard shotgun prayers in the hopes that one sticks. Is your request a righteous one? Good. Be like the widow. Don’t quit. God is not a peeved parent in a supermarket with his annoying kid nagging for Pop-tarts. 

And know this, that if God, who is all-knowing and all-wise, does not immediately grant your request, that is not a sign of his refusal to listen. The unrighteous judge made the widow wait for wicked reasons. Our righteous judge makes us wait for glorious ones.

 

“The only person that dares to wake a king up at 3 AM for a glass of water is a child.” – Tim Keller

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