‘Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.’ Yesterday’s Gospel reading from Luke 18:1-8 begins with this statement and goes on to tell us the familiar parable of the persistent widow. She goes in front the the judge ‘who neither feared God nor respected any human being’ and asks time and time again for a just decision. Despite the judge’s lack of respect and spiteful demeanor, he eventually relents because of her persistence. If even this judge with no fear of the Lord and total disregard for others will consent because of perseverance, how much more will the Lord our God respond to our prayers? Our all powerful and all loving God will most certainly hear our prayers and answer them!
Pray always without becoming weary. I asked myself, as I pray and pray day in and day out for God’s will in my life, for God’s direction, for a family, am I becoming weary? And as of late, I would have to say the answer is yes.
I have been so focused on those first two words: pray always. I have been doing my best to pray as often as I can, to make special time for prayer, to pray during daily activities, and so on. But as I take a hard look at my prayer life over the past few months, I realize I forgot the last part: without becoming weary. All too often I think my prayers have hinged on weary whining as I let negativity enter my mind and question how long I will be waiting for the answer to my prayers.
The widow in the parable could not grow weary. If she merely showed up daily but lost her confidence, grew discouraged, and simply repeated her request without truly believing anything would be done, the judge would have dismissed her. If she showed up complaining about how long it took and halfheartedly pleading her case before leaving feeling depressed and allowing the ‘woe-is-me’ attitude to take over, I doubt the judge would have cared at all. She would have been an annoyance perhaps, but more like a tiny fruit fly that buzzes near your picnic. It’s annoying, sure, but not enough to make you cancel the picnic. The judge wasn’t just annoyed because she showed up. He was frustrated by her confidence! He eventually rendered the decision not just to be rid of her but because she so firmly believed in what she was due that he was afraid she would strike him!
Through this parable Jesus is telling us more than to pray always. He is telling us how to pray. He is telling us to pray with full confidence that our prayers are heard and will be answered. He is telling us to remain firm in our trust and not to grow impatient, discouraged, or weary. Of course in our human state it is easy to allow weariness take over. Thankfully, God is there to help us remain strong. He is our strength. When we feel like we are falling, God holds us close and keeps us safe. We need to trust fully in Him and remain confident in our prayers that God hears us, and more importantly, He answers our prayers. Sometimes we may need to wait awhile. Sometimes we might not get the exact answer we thought we would get. But He knows what’s best for us and He will never abandon us.