Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.”
4 ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’
6 And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’
Jesus tells his followers to always pray and not give up. But if you're anything like me, you often feel like giving up. Or you don't start at all.
Well, this parable helps. And when we read it, we think ‘Ah okay. I’m like the widow, God is like the judge. I’ll just keep going too and God will answer my prayers.’
But actually, we do give up. We don’t know how not to give up. We get tired or frustrated with prayer when we don’t see answers, or we think we don’t have the time or ability to always pray. And so we stop and begin to think ‘I can’t do this' or 'Why bother?’
But truly, this parable only comes alive when we see the differences between our situation and the story of the widow and judge.
What are the differences?
Thankfully, there are many - here are just a few:
The widow is a stranger to the judge - a Christian is a child of God and could not be more known and loved!
The widow is alone with no backup or friend to stand alongside her in court - Christians have Jesus! He stands before the throne of God and represents us and our prayers to the Father. As if that wasn't enough, we also have the Holy Spirit who helps us when we don’t know what or how to pray.
This widow was almost certainly poor - but Christians have been lavished with spiritual gifts! They are forgiven and washed clean from all sin, reconciled to God, given a place in God’s Kingdom and even his family!
And God is not like the judge either! Jesus makes a point by saying the judge doesn’t fear God (it’s repeated in v4). The big implication being, if he did, he’d get justice for the woman. Why? Because God is just.
This is crucial to understanding the parable because if we leave it thinking God is even a little bit like this judge, then we’ll never get out of the mindset that we need to manipulate, bully or nag God into answering our prayers.
The encouragement this parable gives us all
God loves to hear his children pray and he loves to answer prayer!
In effect, Jesus says ‘Look, this widow gets justice when everything is stacked against her. How then can you not get an answer when you pray? Especially with so much more in your favour? Not to mention, you’re coming to a justice loving God!’
This should come as a wonderful encouragement to us to pray. As Christians, we have such a good standing with God, and can be confident when we come to him with prayers. We can even be in God’s face with our prayers, like this widow was with the judge!
This parable is meant to leave us encouraged and empowered to pray. The doubts that you have about prayer are not from God but the devil. God wants nothing more than to hear you cry to him - whether with the everyday challenges we have or the deepest cries of our heart. God gives us every reason to always pray and never give up.
However, what about those times when God still doesn’t seem to answer prayer? Can we really trust Jesus' words in v6-8?
That deserves a bigger answer than I can provide here. So, stay tuned and look out for my next blog post for more on this!
Jamie Mason - GCW Pastoral Assistant