Summary: Praying without giving up

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A young man went into a drugstore to buy 3 boxes of chocolate: small, medium, and large. When the pharmacist asked him about the three boxes, he said, “Well, I’m going over to a new girlfriend’s house for supper. Then we’re going out. If she only lets me hold her hand, then I’ll give her the small box. If she lets me kiss her on the cheek, then I’ll give her the medium box. But if she really lets me smooch seriously, I’ll give her the big box.” He made his purchase and left.

That evening as he sat down at dinner with his girlfriend’s family, he asked if he could say the prayer before the meal. He began to pray, and he prayed an earnest, intense prayer that lasted for almost five minutes. When he finished his girlfriend said, “You never told me you were such a religious person.” He said, “And you never told me your dad was a pharmacist!”

It’s a good thing to pray–whatever the circumstances! According to many public opinion polls, prayer is very important to Americans. In 2000 the Gallup organization found 90 percent of Americans pray. 86 percent said they believed in God–isn’t it interesting more people pray than claim to believe in God? 83 percent said they favor prayer at graduation exercises. 70 percent favor Christian prayers spoken in school.

The problem with prayer is in getting the answer or should I say in not getting an answer. Some people pray for their church that it might prosper, deepen and grow in faith while they watch it slowly wither away or die on the vine. Some of us pray that the spot on the Xray will disappear only to hear the devastating prognosis that there is only a short time left. Some of us pray for our children for that they might find joy and purpose in life and yet they struggle to fit in, struggle to make ends meet, struggle to find their way. We pray for peace but war rages on taking our precious sons and daughters. We pray for comfort for the lonely and grieving who are still struggling in the dark of the night. And so we begin to lose our confidence, trust and hope that our prayers will be heard and answered. We lose heart.

Jesus had just talked to his disciples about the coming death, his return and the coming of the Kingdom of God. He had told them things wouldn’t happen exactly as they thought. That they would long for his return and that things might not be so good for them while they waited. He knew it would be a challenging time for them and they would be tempted to quit praying. And so Jesus told them this parable that they might pray always and not lose heart.

The story that Jesus told his disciples was about an absolutely horrible judge. This judge hated people and he hated God. He didn’t go to church and he refused to give to the United Way. He’s the kind of corrupt judge who makes a mockery out the title “Your Honor.”

Unfortunately, appearing in his courtroom was a poor widow who needed justice but had nothing. She had absolutely nothing. She had no money, she had no husband, she had no standing, she had no power, she had nor resources, she had nothing. She was so insignificant, she probably couldn’t have gotten justice in a good courtroom with a good judge, but here she was in the courtroom of the worst judge in the land.

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