“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1
Jesus is about to tell them a story about persistent prayer, and the key here is the last phrase “and not lose heart”. Sometimes it’s hard not to lose heart when we are praying for something and we feel that our prayers are ‘not reaching the ceiling’! At times we feel like we have prayed for something for so long we doubt if God is listening or if He will ever give us an answer to our prayers. Jesus acknowledges that right here when he is instructing us 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?”
In this parable, Jesus is explaining to them that this woman, who is requesting justice from this judge, who was an ungodly man who didn’t have any respect for God nor for man, basically wore him out. She requested justice to the point that he gave it to her just to shut her up. I wonder sometimes if I have simply worn God out with my requests. And He gets to the point He will answer me just to shut me up. But that is not what Jesus is saying at all. What He is saying is if this woman can get her requests answered because she wore the ungodly judge out, how much more will our heavenly Father give us an answer because He loves us. When we cry out to Him day and night, it is not that we are wearing Him out and that His patience wears thin. What it is is that we will move the heart of God when we cry out to Him day and night. God desires to answer our prayers when we have come to Him over the same thing day in and day out because He loves us not because He is tired of us. While this woman’s persistence wore on the judges nerves, our persistence in prayer moves God! You see this woman came to an ungodly judge who was unjust, but we come to our God who is perfect and He loves us, He is kind, He knows us and He wants good for us! We can know that God has started working on our behalf with the first prayer, but we can build our relationship, and our faith and our hope by coming to Him in prayer persistently over the things that trouble us.
I can also attest to this, that at times my persistence in prayer will end up changing what I am praying for. I may start out praying for a certain thing and by the time I feel the answer comes I find that my requests have transformed into something different. I have said it here before, prayer ends up changing me way more than I get what I am praying for. That is why I also try to always pray that if I am praying the wrong thing that God will show me and will change my heart. And He has many times done that for me. Sometimes my requests may be answered closely to what I have prayed but at other times God changes my heart. And when this happens I can look back and marvel over the way He answers. It is usually better than I could have ever thought to pray for!
I hope that when Jesus returns or He takes me home that he will look at me and say that He found me faithful on earth because of my persistence in bringing my requests to Him.