She doesn’t have a prayer. Some dismiss her as “simply” a widow. Without family to care for her in customary ways, she doesn’t seem to matter or to fit anywhere. She finds herself involved being denied justice. Having no one to go for her, she takes up her own case. The judge perceives her as nothing more than an embarrassing nuisance because she keeps coming back, demanding justice. His decision to grant justice does not come from righteousness of heart; he simply wants to get rid of her incessant clamoring.
We might conclude from this story that persistent prayer wears God down until God grants our wishes. But that would be an inaccurate interpretation. Jesus actually juxtaposes God to the unjust judge. If the “unjust judge” offers justice, how much more will a caring God offer to those God loves? God does not demean and label us as “simply” this or that, nor is God a genie in a bottle who grants wishes.
Jesus calls us to perseverance in prayer not to wear God down but to build us up. We pray in order to strengthen our faith and our relationship with God. We pray for God’s intercession in situations of injustice, even as God moves us to speak up and take action for justice and for those without advocates.
Prayer changes us just as it changes situations. So we pray like this widow approached her unjust situation: without discouragement, without losing heart. We, like the disciples, must answer Jesus’ question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Through our perseverance in prayer, God moves in us and for us. And while it may seem delayed, in God’s time our help will come and God’s justice will prevail!
Teach us your ways, loving God. Help us persevere in prayer so that our faith can grow even stronger. Make us faithful. 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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