“Prayer is not eloquence, but earnestness,” said Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist in the late 1700s. Prayer is “not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it; not figures of speech, but earnestness of soul.” For Hannah, prayer was not something believers do because they are supposed to, but because of who they are.
In our text today, Jesus shows how important it is that we persist in our prayers. Jesus’ intent is clear: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). The advice Jesus gives to His disciples is to be taken as a lesson, not as a law. Nonetheless, the emphasis here is consistent, earnest prayer. The judge in Jesus’ parable had no reverence for God and compassion for people, let alone the widow. He continued to refuse her request (v. 4). Perhaps he was waiting for a bribe or some other selfish reward. But after time, he changed his mind and granted her request (v. 5). His explanation was not because he feared God or suddenly had kindness toward her, but so she would stop wearing him out and possibly escalate to violence (v. 5).
Jesus explains His parable (vv. 6–8) by stating that if an unjust judge did this for the persistent widow, how much more would a perfect, loving, and honorable God do this for His people when they earnestly come to Him. Jesus is not implying that believers should badger God with prayers, but rather that we ought to pray consistently, persistently, and expectantly. When we pray this way, He will answer...maybe not as soon as we want, but His answers will be just what we need at just the right time.
>> Persistent prayer can feel defeating when there seems to be no answer from God. Regardless of our perception, persistent prayer changes us into who He wants us to be. A prayer journal can be a good way to make a practice of consistent prayer. So keep praying!
Father, with humble persistence we resubmit yesterday’s prayers to you. You have the power to heal bodies, touch minds, and change hearts. We appeal to your compassion for ourselves and our loved ones.