Summary: It isn’t about praying for something God is slow to give. It’s about being steadfast and holding on to faith.
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, 2 saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
PURPOSE OF THE PARABLE
Let’s just jump right in here and observe that we do not have to speculate as to why Jesus told this parable. Luke tells us, so there is no need to ask. Jesus told His disciples a parable to encourage them to pray and to pray with confidence and thankfulness. That is what is meant by the words ‘to pray and not to lose heart’.
Now I chose these two words, ‘confidence’ and ‘thankfulness’ deliberately. They are not found in the text, but they are consistent with other Scriptural admonition pertaining to prayer and faith. Here are examples:
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:16
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7
Now you may at this point be wondering how I got these words out of the flow of our text. That is the very thing we need to talk about today.
Some would take this parable of the persistent widow and the unrighteous judge and teach from it that the point Jesus is making is that we should pray persistently until God gives us an answer.
I believe they are mistaken in teaching in this manner. Neither this parable nor any other passage of Scripture teaches us that God is anything like the unrighteous judge in the parable. It was the intent of Jesus to demonstrate, not a similarity, but a contrast.
In no place does the Bible teach that God is reluctant or even slow to respond to prayer.
So the purpose of the parable is to teach the disciples and every Christ-follower two simple points.
Point one: Pray. Pray! Luke says Jesus told them a parable to show them that at all times they ought to pray.
What does that mean? What is meant by the phrase, ‘at all times’? Let’s not make it hard or confusing, it is neither.
‘At all times’ means in the course of our days and as we go through them, as occasions arise that require prayer, or the Spirit within prompts to pray, or when an opportunity presents itself for intercessory prayer or prayers of praise and thankfulness, and so on.
Christians, we are still in the flesh, but when we became believers we became spiritual beings. Prayer is the communication of the spiritual. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray, and this is precisely why it is ludicrous to teach that when we don’t know what or how to pray God gives us a special ‘heavenly language’ with which to babble so that even if we don’t understand the words, He does, and He answers the prayer of the Holy Spirit through this language being expressed by our mouths.
God hears and answers prayer from our heart, from our spirit, and when in Romans 8:26 Paul assures us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers by interceding for us with groaning too deep for words, he is not talking about a special prayer language – he is talking about the Holy Spirit within us touching the Throne of God for us.
So the first point is, pray. In the flesh you communicate with people very casually and naturally as you interact with them. As a spiritual being, communicate with and interact with God, at His invitation to do so by the way, through prayer. Do not fail, do not forget, do not faint; and that is point two.
Point two: Do not lose heart. Don’t give up. Now what does that mean? Is God reluctant to answer? Is God holding on to the answer like a man playing tug-of-war with his dog?