One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 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!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 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? 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)
It is so easy to give up. Your prayers for an apparently good thing are apparently not answered. Jesus seems to anticipate this situation and so encourages us to keep on praying. The point of his story here seems to be that if an unfeeling human judge will respond to cries for help, then surely God can do so. Although we need to note that God will respond in order to grant justice to his people. In other words, we still have no absolute guarantee we will get exactly what we ask for. God’s ways remain his ways.
God does hear and will respond, even if that response is different to what we expected. So we need not give up feeling he has given up on us. However, persistence is not the same as nagging. We don’t persist in order to wear God down, or to ensure the message gets through. It gets through without us opening our mouths. Rather, we persist simply because it is natural to go on praying for those we love, or for justice or peace or salvation.
The final phrase challenges us to express our faith in ongoing prayer. When we pray persistently, we are telling God we trust him, we need him. That trust is no passing fad, that need is no temporary crisis.