The Persistent Widow

by Judith Lawrence (reprinted with permission August 2010)

This month’s meditation is on the 15th parable of Jesus unique to the Gospel of St. Luke. It is the Parable of the Persistent Widow, and is found in Luke 18 verses 1 – 8 (NLT).

Jesus takes every opportunity afforded to him to teach his disciples how to pray. The parable of the Persistent Widow is to show the disciples how important it is to have faith when praying to God, and how they should never give up on prayer.

In the parable, Christ says that even the unjust judge will answer the request for justice if only to get relief from the widow’s persistence or obstinacy. Jesus said:

Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?” Luke 8: 6, 7 (New Living Translation).

Sometimes we give up on prayer too quickly. We live in a society of instant responses—we write an e-mail to someone across the other side of town and, in a few moments, it is possible to receive an answer to that e-mail. If we need to eat, we can take a ready-made dinner out of the freezer, put it in the microwave, press a few buttons and, in less than five minutes we can have a hot, satisfying meal.

When we make a prayer request to God, we often expect the same instant results as the reply to our e-mails or a hot meal from a frozen dinner. We do not expect to be kept waiting.

But God has his own timing; he sees the big picture and not just the small world that surrounds our individual needs. God answers our prayers at the right time, which only God knows; we have to be faithful and continue praying even when it seems as if God is not listening—he is listening but it may not be the right time for our prayers to be answered and so we must learn to pray and wait with faith.

God may answer our prayers in unexpected ways; and because God’s answer to our prayers may be unexpected we have to be watchful. If we are looking for a particular result in answer to our prayers, we may miss the answer that God presents to us outside the box.

Jesus sums up the parable by asking the question, When the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith? It is important to keep on praying in faith even when we have been waiting for a long time without an apparent answer to our prayers. This is one of the ways we can practice being faithful so that we can be sure that we will be among the number whom Christ finds with faith when he returns to earth.