This week in my Bible reading, I was blessed anew by a parable of Jesus that I had read hundreds of times. It is what is commonly known as the “Parable of the Unjust Judge” in Luke 18….
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ “For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”” (Luke 18:1–8, NASB95)
In this parable, Jesus gives us the lesson and application up front: he is giving this parable so that people will constantly pray and not lose heart in their praying. Then he unfolds the parable, and the interpretation of it must flow through the opening verse. Let’s draw four important applications from this parable….
We can be tempted to “lose heart” when our prayers are not answered. Certainly all of us have been there at some point along life’s way. We have prayed and prayed – to no avail. What we have asked God for has gotten worse or seems like more of an impossibility. In these situations, we tend to grow weary, frustrated, and, yes, even angry with God. We lose heart. We stop praying, or at least stop praying as often or as specifically as we once did. This parable is given as an antidote for this situation.
We pray to the God who has loved us and saved us. It’s easy to overlook the contrast Jesus draws between the unjust judge and our Heavenly Father. That is really the heart of the parable. This widow kept on asking a judge who did not know the Lord. How much more should we persevere in prayer to the One who has saved us? “His elect” are those the Lord has redeemed in Jesus. That is me and you. When we pray, we pray to the God who has saved us, and always acts for our good and His glory.
We can be confident that God hears our prayers. We “cry to him day and night” and see no change, but we can be certain that our prayers are not just dissipating into the air. They are traveling straight to the ears of the God of the universe, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer. Because God has not acted, does not imply that He has not heard. Keep praying.
We should be determined to be found praying when Jesus comes. The last verse of the parable contains a question for the second coming: “…will He find faith on the earth?” In other words, will he find people of faith calling on the name of the Lord in prayer? The short answer is “YES, he will.” There will absolutely people of great faith praying when Jesus returns. They may be few in number, but they will be here. Will YOU be one of them? Yes, you may die before Jesus comes, but, if not, be determined to be found praying – even if your answer has never come. How can we do that? See the first three applications!
Friend, take heart. Even though the situation is heart breaking and that mountain hasn’t moved yet, you can absolutely know for sure that every single prayer has been heard by your Heavenly Father. If a widow can keep asking an ungodly judge, then you can ask the Lord (who loves you and saved you) one more time. Pray, and don’t lose heart!