Our society trains us to expect immediate gratification. Crisp photos and videos appear immediately on multitasking phones we carry faithfully. We have thousands of songs or dozens of movies and television shows at our fingertips for instant entertainment. We can collaborate with or instantly connect to coworkers and friends.
This immediacy makes the mode of perseverance a rare commodity. How do we practice and take action that requires commitment over the long haul? Jesus tells this parable of a widow who takes her situation that calls for justice before a judge who really doesn’t care. She pesters him to the point that her persistence and perseverance finally wear him down. The judge pragmatically decides to care for her situation, reasoning it is his only chance for peace.
Jesus tells the disciples to pray with the same constant fervor and persistence that this widow employs. He assures them that God—the polar opposite of the uncaring judge—will respond and help them.
Though we struggle with perseverance and prefer immediate gratification of our wants, we seek to find fulfillment in God’s timing. We can easily link God to that disconnected judge, but God is anything but disconnected or disinterested. Our faith and prayers need to be consistent, constant, and committed, just like God. Our constancy comes in our confidence in the character of God who is responsive to our prayers, especially when we lift up issues of justice. It may be that as we spend more time in persistent and consistent prayer, we will discover that prayer relies less on our swaying God’s opinion and more on allowing God to teach us divine ways and timing.
Teach us how to pray, Jesus, even as we aspire to your unwavering faith. Teach us tenacity in praying for justice. Amen.
Christians want help in understanding the signi cance of the Bible. Psalm 119 delights in the instruction of Yahweh. The text of the Torah is valued, not as a legal document but as an occasion for meditation and for the shaping of values, intuitions, and sensitivities. Scripture in Second Timothy is the gift of God and a guide for the practical life of God’s people. Its instructive role equips believers for every good work. Jeremiah 31 anticipates the time when God will write the law on the hearts of the people and reminds readers that at the core of “the law” is the covenant relation God establishes: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The parable of the persistent widow directs us to the companion of Bible study: prayer.
• Read Jeremiah 31:27-34. In what sense do you perceive God’s guidance coming from within you?
• Read Psalm 119:97-104. How immersed are you in God’s word? How does scripture guide your decisions?
• Read 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5. Who in your life has been a coura- geous teacher leading you toward God? How has he or she helped sustain your faith?
• Read Luke 18:1-8. How have your attitudes toward prayer changed? How does this passage help you to view prayer in a new light?
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