Summary: Each follower of the Christ has had the experience of praying earnestly, only to be disappointed to discover that God has not answered his/her prayer. When God doesn't answer our earnest request, then what?

“[Jesus] told [His disciples] a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.” For a while he refused, but afterward 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 the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” [1]

The Parable of the persistent widow and the wicked judge assures us that God hears the prayer of His people when they persist. We also witness this same affirmation elsewhere in Scripture. For example, the opening verses of THE SIXTY-FIFTH PSALM encourages readers by emphasising that God does hear prayer. But almost immediately, perceptive believers want to ask, “What about the times God doesn’t hear our prayer? What about the times I knock and knock and knock, and God seems to ignore me?” Well, what about those awful times when we pray, and it seems that nothing happens? How can we account for those times when God is silent? Is it possible that He cannot hear us on every occasion? Or does God just ignore us more often than He hears us?

In one sermon, Pastor Rick Brand tells of a nicely dressed, attractive, dignified middle aged woman who visited his office. She had taken her lunch hour to come to see her pastor. Pastor Brand says that her face was a mixture of indignation and sorrow. The woman related a story of a woman in her Sunday School class, one of the teachers, who was constantly testifying about how wonderful our walk with Jesus was. This teacher argued, “We just talk to God every morning, and prayer is like picking up the phone and gossiping with your best friend.” That Sunday School teacher would tell stories of how she might be cooking blueberry muffins for her mid-week Bible study and she would just pray to God that they would turn out right, and voila, the blueberry muffins were wonderful. Jesus was so good to have around. She would speak of rushing to do the Lord’s work somewhere and needing a parking place, and she would pray, “Lord, you know that I am coming down here to do your work. I am running late so I need a parking place.” And lo and behold, somebody would pull out and there would be a parking place. Jesus was so good to have around to answer her prayers.

The woman who was relating her anguish at hearing such stories didn’t know whether to be angry with God or not. She complained, “It makes me angry and it hurts.” What would you say to that woman? Though you aren’t prepared to say so out loud, perhaps as you listen to that story you find yourself agreeing with her. Does it strike you that there are an awful lot of people who appear to see Jesus as some kind of a genie Who is handy to have around. He answers all sorts of requests to make your life easier.

The reality is quite different, as you well know. God does answer prayer; and He does so dramatically on many occasions! Perhaps He has done so even in your life. However, each of us have likely had those disquieting times when we prayed for some intervention and nothing happened. No doubt we questioned why the Lord was silent. Though we were struggling, and though we desperately felt a need for His intervention, He seemed to allow us to struggle and grope in the darkness—He did not deliver us! What was going on? Why didn’t He answer us when we cry out to Him?

THE DIVINE EMPHASIS — “[Jesus] told [His disciples] a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” [LUKE 18:1]. At the outset, note that we are informed of the reason Jesus delivered this parable to His disciples. He is teaching us that we are to pray and not lose heart! Even when it seems as if the Lord hasn’t heard, we need to understand that God does hear us; and then we need to keep on praying. Just because our God doesn’t immediately give us what we ask does not mean that our request has not been heard.

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