“Now he told them a parable on the need for them to pray always and not give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain town who didn’t fear God or respect people. 3 And a widow in that town kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’”
4 “For a while he was unwilling, but later he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or respect people, 5 yet because this widow keeps pestering me, I will give her justice, so that she doesn’t wear me out by her persistent coming.’”
6 “Then the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 Will not God grant justice to his elect who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay helping them?”
8 “I tell you that he will swiftly grant them justice. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
This parable deals with heavy-duty prayer—not the weak watered-down stuff. But rather something that’s bold and confident. Jesus teaches us to intensify our prayers. There are parallels here with the woman from Canaan. We see Jesus seemingly ignore a seeker (Matthew 15:21-28, Message). I guess that bothers me somewhat. But he wants her faith to grow.
Jesus uses the word “unjust” to accentuate the story to his listeners. It more or less creates a tension where true faith can be seen up close. Back in the Old Testament we read of Jacob refusing to let go of the angel (Gen.32:22-25). We see Rachel who demanded children, “or else I die,” (Genesis 30:8). Both prevailed even when confronted with difficult situations.
“Don’t give up” in verse 1 explains this passage. Discouragement is a frontal assault on a believer’s faith. Satan uses different tactics, but attacking ones faith is his specialty. Whenever Satan sees faith, he attacks. He absolutely hates your relationship with the Father. He will turn you against him if he can. We are told that our faith must become a shield when he tries to assault us, (Ephesians 6:16).
It seems that to me that some believers refuse to wear their armor. They don’t realize how vulnerable they really are.
This parable is clear. Often God seems to be distant and unconcerned, but that isn’t true, and yet Satan insists that it is. As believers we’re told to press the father about our need. Repeatedly, we’re told that God is very much aware of us, he only wants to build our faith—to make it strong. He uses Satan’s assault on us to magnify the fathers glory.
The widow is a case in point. She demands that the judge listen to her case, and finally he relents. Her insistence is finally rewarded. He realizes that this widow isn’t going away. She’s starting to give him a headache, and she is very persistent. Her faith is stronger than his reluctance.
Our faith needs to be exercised. It’s very much like working out in a gym.
Weights are used, and once you’ve mastered one level, it’s increased. It may sound like a cliche, but God won’t give you anymore than you can handle, our faith isn’t much different. Sometimes we’ll sweat and strain spiritually, but we must understand that our faith has to be strengthened. We never seem to arrive.
You must understand that our faith will be tried, but that isn’t a bad thing. If God withdraws, then we must pursue. If he doesn’t answer we must crank it up. Like the widow we need to persevere; we must not give up. This is how your faith grows. Hebrews 11 declares what faith looks like when it’s wrapped up in flesh and bone.
“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.”
Art by Eugène Burnand