“And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” ~Luke 18:6-8 (NRSV).
The human default thinking is negative so far as God answering prayers is concerned. We commonly don’t expect the sort of answer to prayer that we desire. Sure, we still pray, saying all the right words, but the faith of our hearts is weak, yet we might not realise it.
In this parable, Jesus is heard contrasting the enacted and fair justice of an evil man in a powerful position with the coming justice of God. The widow in question had faith strong enough to continue beseeching the unjust judge—a man who neither feared God nor respected anyone. Saving himself the extra hassle of further pleas, the unjust judge gives the widow her justice.
The moral: if the unjust judges in our lives will give us justice because we harp on them, how much more readily will God give us justice that we even don’t deserve?
But let us go further in our consideration that persistent prayer—which is what this parable is all about—is actually the will of God for our prayer lives.
‘Nagging’ Prayer and Eventual Justice
The widow was a nag. And though she was uncharacteristically persistent she shows that persistence pays; and such perseverance doesn’t discriminate, meaning we don’t often even need to be in the right to wear someone down. In this story, the widow wears down this thoroughly unfeeling man of power because he can’t be bothered hearing one more protest.
Now, is it God’s will for us to ‘nag’ our prayers?
Well, by the fashion of persistence for prayers of injustice: yes! The unjust judge will have seen the widow as a nag, when God sees it totally different. The unjust judge can’t see the injustice and, therefore, lacks compassion. Our Lord, on the other hand, is ever compassionate—poles opposite of the unjust judge. God gave us the justice we didn’t deserve: Jesus on the cross—his sinless life for our sin.
Of the volumes written on prayer over twenty-five centuries there is one fundamentally basic thing to be noted. The Apostle Paul said it plainly in First Thessalonians 5:17—“Pray without ceasing.”
Prayer, in the way of continually beseeching the Lord, is the exercise of practicing our faith in the justice of God.
To devote such time and effort, and resources of creativity—for nobody enjoys bland prayers—is not only a blessed activity, it’s also demonstrative of a commitment that proves good faith. We do not pray, after all, to some idol. It’s the Lord of all creation, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, whom we are praying to.
The right way to pray is unceasingly, with a heart of pure faith to believe that in God all things are possible. Our Lord will vindicate the praying person.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.