Prayer for the Lost
Because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. Luke 18:5
Every morning, for the last couple of years, part of my prayer time has been spent praying for those I know who are still living in active drug or alcohol addiction. If I’m completely honest, it seems a little futile sometimes. Though I’ve seen one or two find recovery, there are those for whom I’ve literally prayed a thousand days without seeing any difference. I want God to do whatever it takes to get a hold of them, but nothing seems to change.
At my worst, I get frustrated and just want to quit praying. God, you’re never going to do anything. They will never find sobriety. Often then, I’m made to remember how long it took for me to truly find recovery. There were those who had to pray for me for many long years before they saw any real transformation.
Today’s passage addresses the frustration of unanswered prayer. It’s a bit of a strange parable in which Jesus told of a widow who sought justice from a godless judge. Day after day she came to him, asking him to answer her request. He refused until eventually, she wore him down with her persistence.
The story makes it sound like God answers our prayers only when we pester him long enough that he becomes annoyed with our repetition. At the end of the passage though, Jesus reveals the meaning of the parable. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth (Luke 18:8)?
It seems to be God’s will that we continually turn to him, relying on him in prayer. Faith is following God, hoping in him, even when things don’t go the way we think they should. Faith, in this case, is not giving up on asking for God’s help, even when it’s been a thousand days with no change. Faith is continuing to hope and pray that the addict will find recovery, even when it looks impossible.
The point of the passage isn’t that God always gives us what we want if we beg for it long enough. I know those who have lost loved ones to addiction despite praying for them. The point of the passage is that God desires that we continually pray, remaining faithful to him, no matter what happens.