Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he thought to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”Luke 18:1-8
I’ve really been feasting on this fascinating story in recent weeks, playing it again and again in my heart. Often, Jesus’ parables were intentionally mysterious and the disciples frequently had to ask for their true meaning, but there’s no mystery here about the meaning of this parable. Luke explains clearly the point is “to show (us) that (we) should always pray and not give up” (verse 1).
Look at it again with me. The story features a poor widow persistently asking a particular judge to answer her need—with such repetition and audacity that it was irritating! Jesus concludes by commanding us to “be ever praying, ever expecting, just like the widow was with the judge. Yet when the Son of Man comes back, will He find this kind of persistent faithfulness in His people” (verse 3, TPT, emphasis mine)?
Perhaps your theology doesn’t leave room for night-and-day, again-and-again asking and asking and asking—especially to the point of being bothersome!—but Jesus actually expects that sort of faith and audacity from us! He expects us to ask, ask, ask until we reach breakthrough—not just ask once and let it go. A familiar teaching of His guides us to “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7), and the original Greek language strikingly indicates more in the sense of ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.
Does a tireless persistence on our part diminish the supremacy of God? Does asking with tenacious regularity and “irritating” frequency turn God into some sort of heavenly slot machine? Certainly not! A child asks his daddy for a race car toy for Christmas again and again, knowing in his heart that it is done, based on the loving relationship they share. Besides, in the parable at hand, Jesus commends the widow’s dogged, “irritating” faithfulness and actually expects it of us upon His return.
In the paragraph above, I put the word irritating in quotation marks because I don’t believe God is irritated in the slightest when we ask again and again like He commands us. I mean it in more of a playful way. Actually, could it be that when we begin to feel like we are irritating God with our night-and-day, again-and-again praying, that we have only begun to enter the realm of faithfulness He is encouraging us to have?
Listen, my dear friends, when you perceive silence on God’s end during prayers, you mustn’t interpret it as dismissal and thus give up. Based on this passage, I would suggest that God’s perceived silence is actually an invitation to keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking. I believe that God, like the wonderful Dad He is, will let us know when the answer is “no”—He won’t tease us or mislead us—so unless that happens, keep at it! Whatever you’re believing God for, don’t ease up and don’t slack off! Be like that irritating widow who asked and asked and asked until her need was met!
And I will leave you with this tremendous verse to refuel your faith tank: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).