By Gladys McElmore
We can become resilient and spiritually tough in this hostile world. Prayer, and not determination, helps us to follow God’s plan which is the antidote to despair. With any thoughts of impatience appearing, remember that God already knows what we need and that His thoughts and ways do not always coincide with ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Paul made it known (1 Thessalonians 5:17) that we should pray continuously. He repeated the same advice in Ephesians 6:18 that we are to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayerful requests. Does that mean that we must use all of our time praying? No, but we need to pray in all decisions of importance. Suffering people can always use prayer as a resource along with faith. Without prayer any of us may grow weary and fall into temptation (Luke 22:40).
To encourage us in our prayer life, the Lord Jesus Christ tells a parable of persistent prayer. Let us use our imagination to visualize a judge who neither feared God nor cared about people. Here we read about a widow who kept coming to him with the same plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” After a long period of refusal, the judge finally said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!”
Legally, the judge was the center of power during the Lord’s time. He had authority that was not questioned or opposed. With no sense of accountability to God or divine law, he was never troubled by sensitivity to people. There was never any feeling of compassion. All of us have encountered hard-hearted people regardless of our status in life.
This widow represented helplessness and weakness against a judge with no conscience who did whatever he liked and was controlled by his own inclinations! With no clout in society, poverty stricken and without the protection of a husband, justice may not have been on her side in an insensitive world. Persistence was her only weapon. According to Old Testament custom, the Jewish legal system called for the assistance to have been given to the needs of widows and orphans. This custom meant nothing to this indifferent judge. Because she had been persistent, he later acted on her behalf reluctantly.
Finally, after reading such a startling story, these questions might scan through our minds:
• Do we seek God with persistent prayer?
• How can we prevent unscrupulous exploitations?
• Is the Lord’s formula for help clear to us?
• Can God trust us to be persistent in prayer and obedience?
So a powerless widow with no weapon other than persistence received her rights from an evil judge. Persistence in prayer can bring us closer to God, to learn more about Him and life’s painful experiences that cause us to cry out in joy or pain. Persistent prayer is the very essence of a life of faith and obedience to God.
Prayer is not just an activity with permission, but a command from God. It is the only basis of perseverance because God uses it to accomplish His will in our lives. We are not to only pray, but to always pray. The Lord wants us to recognize that the ONE to whom we pray is nothing like an unjust judge. He does not need to be nagged about our problems. Our persistence in prayer does not change Him. We are never helpless before God. We are the products of grace in God’s eternal plan and His choices give us a position of confidence and security. Because we are the chosen, the citizens of God’s kingdom and children of the Father, therefore we can pray with confidence!