The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
I’ve been reading Richard Pratt’s Pray With Your Eyes Open recently. I saw it at Covenant Seminary’s bookstore and ordered it through Family Christian using my handy-dandy 30% employee discount. It’s only $9.99 to start with, so I think I got a pretty sweet deal. I haven’t ever read a book on prayer, mostly because the vast majority of what we carry are either pithy things by major authors (Max Lucado or Bill Hybels) or stuff from charismatics (Dutch Sheets, Stormie Omartian and the like). So I’ve tended to stay away from the prayer section at FCS.
But this book is truly helping me understand the biblical underpinnings of prayer and specifically of persistence in prayer. I’m still wrestling through some of the material in the book, not for biblical reasons but because I don’t really feel like praying for my enemies. I don’t really feel like taking the time to build my case before God as the Psalmists did. I don’t remind myself of His acts and mercies when I pray…I’m far too distracted with what I want.
So why is this important right now, to me?
I have been praying for months now for a dear friend who has wandered away from Christ. He has also seemingly called it quits on our friendship. This hurts me a lot, but regardless of if I ever see him again, I pray for him each day and I’m very tired of not seeing any results. I’m results-oriented. The fact that I’ve persisted in prayer for him this long is nothing short of an act of the Holy Spirit.
I have been praying for a job. God seems to have closed one door and I’m not sure if the next door will be open or not. I find out tonight, perhaps…or at least, step 2 of that particular process is tonight. I’m somewhat concerned about it because my financial situation is one in which I would be tempted to take a job I wouldn’t necessarily want or be able to live with for concern of paying bills. This is unwise, especially in ministry and I want to make sure that I am going to take the job (if it’s offered) for the right reasons, not for money.
I have been praying for a pastor friend of mine that he would feed his flock and not expect them to be self-feeders. He seems to have an interesting notion that preaching the gospel only to unbelievers is somehow motivated by the Holy Spirit and at this point sees no need to preach Christ to all men, believer and non-believer alike. I can demonstrate from Scripture that preaching the gospel to all men is the primary responsibility of anyone charged with preaching the Word, but he disagrees. So, perhaps it would please the Holy Spirit to convict him…or to convict me in some way, whether in my response or in my holding my peace.
I am inclined to lose heart on all of these things.
And yet, Christ’s counsel is to pray and NOT lose heart. In the above parable, Christ makes it very clear that our job as Christians (those who are in Christ) is to pray, knowing that God gives justice better than any human judge could. And God, having received payment for sin from Christ, acts in mercy toward me…and my prayer is for mercy for my brother who sins and for me, who has sinned against him in many, many ways. My prayer is for mercy according to my financial need. And my prayer is for mercy, that a shepherd would feed his sheep according to the will of God in Christ Jesus as revealed in Scripture.
But I am tempted to lose heart. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.