Luke 18 opens with a very interesting parable that, up front (not the norm for a parable), gives the main idea and purpose of the parable…
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
I actually have to wonder, is this prayer (as Luke is the only gospel writer to record) intentionally included after Jesus’ discussion about the coming Kingdom of God?
There appears to be a “Lesser to Greater” argument…
- If A (the lesser) is true
- Then B (the greater) is much more true
God is NOT like the unjust judge! The contrast is to bring God’s character into the light.
What is the unjust judge like?
- did not fear God
- did not respect people (unconcerned about people’s needs)
- not concerned about what others thought of him
- gave because widow wore him out (reluctant)
- in the end gives justice…
Jesus told the Parable to teach persistence in prayer: that they, His disciples, should always pray and not give up. A widow continued to go before an unjust judge to plead for justice in her case. He continually refused to “hear” her case, but finally decided to give her justice so that she would not wear him out with her complaining
But what about God? What’s he like?
- invites us to come over and over
- concerned about our need
- As if he says “Try to wear me out!” (since he is not at all reluctant)
Why do we have to be told this parable?
- we are frail ( “that they ought always to pray and not lose heart”)
- we lose sight of God
- we get caught up in the moment of trial
God is FOR us…waiting to show us mercy (in contrast to the unjust judge).
Isaiah 30:18 teaches me the same thing (a verse about God’s character in the midst of a description of a rebellious people).
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
NOT JUST, “God is gracious” — which is true.
NOT, “God will be merciful” — which is also true.
God LONGS to show mercy!
The clear lesson of the parable is that God is not like the judge, for God is good and gracious. And we are not like the nameless widow, for we are his chosen ones.
C. Samuel Storms poses some relevant questions in his book Reaching God’s Ear that we can use to evaluate our prayer lives.
“Do we repeat a request because we think that the quality of a prayer is dependent on the quantity of words?
“Do we repeat a request because we think that God is ignorant and needs to be informed, or if not ignorant at least he is unconcerned and therefore needs to be aroused?
“Do we repeat our prayers because we believe that God is unwilling to answer and we must prevail upon him, somehow transforming a hard-hearted God into a compassionate and loving one?
“Do we repeat a petition because we think that God will be swayed in his decision by our putting on a show of zeal and piety, as if God cannot see through the thin veil of hypocrisy?”
We must continue in our prayers, even when there seems to be no answer, because God, unlike the unjust judge, is loving, good, and gracious. We persist in prayer not because we have not yet gotten God’s attention, but because we know he cares and will hear us.
Don’t lose heart. Remember heart, whatever God is, he is infinitely. He is infinitely loving, infinitely gracious, infinitely merciful, and infinitely just.