Summary: Jesus reminds us that he always answers prayer of his children in his time so he encourages us to keep on praying and be persistent in our requests because of his promises.
Are you already tired of politics? If so, brace yourself for the next 13 months! A constant theme on the news are the debates and their arguments back and forth – who won the debate? Who is stronger in the polls? It’s a long grueling process. But honestly, a lot of what we hear is simply rhetoric.
How would you define rhetoric? It's a skill in the effective use of speech. Most often today rhetoric is the use of speech to convince someone of something but it lacks any kind of action behind it. Synonyms found in Webster’s dictionary include: bombast, grandiloquence, hot air, oratory, verbiage, wind.
This brings up today’s text this morning. It’s about prayer. And the problem of discouragement in prayer. I began asking myself, why do we not pray more? Why are we not people of prayer? It seems that prayer very often viewed as simply rhetoric. Religious language. Nice and proper and we should do it but it doesn’t accomplish much.
Why? We don’t see answers. It seems like wasted time. Nothing really gets accomplished through it. It seems like God isn’t listening.
Our prayers are so often frustrating because enemies are always winning and there is no justice being done. But Jesus wants to encourage us that prayer is not empty wind. It’s not rhetoric. It’s not falling on dead ears.
Jesus tells the story of a widow during the first century. She would have had very little – probably hardly any money or resources. In addition to this hard social situation, she had been victimized by someone – taken advantage of –someone had robbed her. She had no power and no influence to get anyone to do anything about it because she’s simply a poor widow.
But she goes to the judge. This judge is a godless self-centered man. He cares nothing for righteousness. He cares nothing about God or serving others. He cares about himself. So this poor defenseless widow comes to him asking for help – asking for justice. Why should he help her? She can’t do him any favors. If he helps her, how will he be better off. She is just a waste of his time. So he ignores her.
Now the widow does have one weapon, one way in which she can bring this judge to do something. She has persistence. She may not have money, but she has time and will not stop pestering this evil judge until he finally helps her. What does she have to lose? So she comes to his court day after day after day refusing to take no for an answer.
Finally, the judge gives in seeing that he’s better off helping her than listening to her complaints day after day.
This is the story Jesus is telling as a parable.
Now, you might see in this parable God as this wicked judge. He has all the power in his decision – power to make decisions that affect the lives of everyone in his jurisdiction. He has the power to help or to punish with one word lives are changed.
And we might look at this widow and see ourselves – “Why does God care about us? Why would he bother to help little old me? I’m nobody compared to his power and majesty. I’m not a president, a company ceo. I don’t have lots of power and wealth. I haven’t done really much for God compared to others. But if I bother him enough, day and night, he will finally take notice of me and answer my prayer.”
Is this what this parable is telling us? Absolutely NOT! Jesus tells this parable as a contrast to reveal how different our situation is – how much of a BETTER situation we are in.
First of all, yes, God is a judge who has power to protect and condemn. But he is not evil. He is not thinking only about himself and doesn’t want to be bothered. He seeks justice for his citizens no matter who they are.
Remember that the Lord also compares himself to the shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep. The Scriptures say that our name is written on the palm of his hand (Isa. 49:16) – in other words, your name is constantly on his mind. He’s thinking about you and doesn’t forget or have better things to do.
Secondly, are we as Christians really like this widow? Are we really poor, helpless, powerless, unloved having lost everything? You may feel that way. But reality is very different than that. We are completely different than this widow. We have been bought with a price. We are children of the King! We are not poor beggars but as God’s children, we are supremely precious to Him. We have been purchased with the priceless blood of the Son of God. Nothing is more valuable than that!