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Grant me justice against my adversary.
Today’s parable of the widow and the judge is often read as an argument for the power of persistent prayer. But we’ll see that paying close attention to the text will give us a truer picture of our gracious God.
An important observation is that the unjust judge is presented in contrast—not in comparison—to God. Our heavenly Father never ignores a widow’s petition. Her persistence underscores the difference between her relationship with the judge and our relationship with God. Unlike the widow who was rejected by the judge, we are welcomed by God to bring our petitions to Him. Like the widow, however, we often wait.
There are no easy answers to the question of why we wait. It’s tempting to blame our own lack of persistence. It does seem that the widow’s stubbornness finally wins the result she seeks. But this interpretation hinges on a discarded translation of the Greek word hypopiazein at the end of 18:5. Some English renderings of this word make the judge finally act out of fear that she will wear him out. Most scholars now agree the better translation reflects action based on fear that she will shame or attack him. Fearing that the widow’s begging would reflect poorly on him, the judge’s decision to act was as self-centered as his inaction, another point of contrast to God.
If Jesus’ parable promoted begging, it would make God no better than an unjust judge. Jesus’ lesson is the opposite. God listens. The fact that we often wait for answers is not a reflection on us, but on the prerogative of our good and holy God. We exhibit our faithfulness and trust in Him by praying patiently, believing He is just and hears our prayers even the first time we utter them.
Apply the Word
Reasons, even disheartening ones, are often more comfortable than lingering questions. But God encourages us in unexpected ways. If you are waiting for an answer to prayer, reflect on the last month and make a list of blessings (a beautiful sunset, conversation with a friend) that you’ve experienced. Pray through the list, praising God from whom all blessings flow.
Pray with Us
This academic year, Moody equipped over 3,500 students for ministry. Will you ask God to grant wisdom to Dr. Junias Venugopal, provost and dean of Education, and his executive administrative assistant, Denise Kuypers, as they prepare for the 2013-14 academic year?