Persistent Praying Presupposes Faith
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary....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? 8I 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
The main thing that we need to see in the parable and the concluding statement made by our Lord Jesus in verse 8 is that God will vindicate His elect. God will give justice to His people who have been crying out day and night for vindication. In other words, we can keep on praying for the kingdom of God to come because God will surely hear us and will deliver us from all our woes in this life.
Notice that in the parable, the idea of giving justice or vindication is quite prominent. There are two main characters in this parable. One is a helpless widow who desperately cries out for justice because someone had wronged her.
The other character is an ungodly and uncaring judge who keeps on denying and putting off the widow's request for justice. He was refusing to grant her request for a while because he doesn't care for her. But the widow would not take 'no' for an answer.
So when the widow keeps on coming to him to the point of bothering him and wearing him out, he finally yielded to her request.
I like the way one pastor described a modern version of her persistence. He said, “[The judge] no sooner leaves the courtroom to go home for lunch, than this woman dogs his steps all the way to his house. When he comes out to go back to work, there she is. When he goes home at night, she’s there again. Every morning she is parked at the door of the courthouse, waiting for him to show up. Every day he tells her to get lost, but she keeps coming back. He can’t get rid of her! She’s beginning to dominate his life. He begins to hate going to work, because he’s going to be confronted by this nagging woman!” That's a good description of her persistence.
The judge realized that the only way to get rid of her is to grant her request. So 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 what's the point that Jesus made out of this parable? It is this: If an unrighteous judge can be moved to grant justice to the persistent widow for the wrong reason, HOW MUCH MORE will the Righteous Judge vindicate His people who cry out to Him day and night out of His love and compassion for them?
Indeed, God is unlike the unrighteous judge. In fact He is the opposite of everything the judge was. God loves us and takes care of us as His children in our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we were enemies of God because of our sin and disobedience. Yes, we were dead in our sins and trespasses and were objects of His wrath.
But because of His great mercy and grace, God freely saved us from His wrath through the propitiatory [wrath-removing] death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of His kindness He forgave us all of our sins, justified us and made us His children by faith in Jesus Christ. Such is the love of God toward us, dear people of God.
Don't you ever think that He has forgotten you when you're suffering and struggling in your life! Don't you dare to say that Christ doesn't care when you are assaulted by the world and the devil each day! Don't even think that God leaves you when you're tempted. No!
Even though Christ is in heaven and waiting for the right time to return, He doesn't leave us like a widow or an orphan. He is not totally remote and uninvolved in your daily struggles. In fact, as the book of Hebrews says, Christ sympathizes with us and he prays for us in time of need. He looks at us with compassion and He does something for us so we can deal with our struggles and pains. When sometimes God is silent to your prayers and longings, don't give up.
Again this is where you must see the role of the Holy Spirit as vital in the Christian life. We confess that both the Father and the Son have sent the Spirit as our Comforter and Enabler. The Spirit's work in us and through us is part of God's providential care so we will not give up but persevere in prayer. The Spirit empowers us to do the will of God and to resist every impulse of our sinful nature to sin (Gal 5.16-25).
He helps you and me to endure every trial and affliction even with joy (1 Thess 1.4-7). He strengthens you in your weakness and even intercedes for you when you do not know what to pray (Rom 8.26-27) and do not WANT to pray.
So you see, Christ's compassion toward us moves Him to equip us with His Spirit so we can keep on praying at all times in spite of the many trials in life.
But dear brothers and sisters, Christ is coming again. We do not know when but He tells us to be ready at all times. And the way to prepare for His coming is to be always on our knees praying, “May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When Jesus comes again He will completely and swiftly establish His eternal kingdom of justice and righteousness. He will put an end to all our pain and suffering and to all our struggles against the forces of this world. But when He comes will He find us persistently praying? Will He find FAITH in us? That's the challenge of Christ's instruction to persevere in prayer.