Read Luke 18:1-8
1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (NLT)
One of the key issues in understanding parables of Jesus is that we can’t afford to get too bogged down in incidental details. For example, Jesus is not likening God to the unjust judge but rather urging us to persist in prayer just as we might persist in seeking earthly justice.
However, there is right and wrong persistence. We do not persist in prayer in order to nag God into getting what we want, wearing him down with our efforts. We are not trying to impress God with our devotion and so get him to do our bidding. This makes prayer some sort of meritorious work. Nor do we persist because we figure God might be do distracted with events in the Middle East that we need to go on begging him to attend to us much as we might badger a busy corporate hotline in order to get attention.
Then again, there is good persistence. I persist in my prayers because these prayers express my utmost dependence on God. I am always dependent on God so I always pray. And I persist in my prayers, especially my intercessory prayers, because of my care and concern for that for which I pray. I don’t just pray once for my family members. I go on praying not because God is inattentive but because it is the most natural thing in the world to pray for those we love.