Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
Persevering in prayer is one of our most common struggles in our life of communion and petition. Though our spirit may be strong, our flesh is weak and we are easily dissuaded from continuing in prayer by the delay that we perceive in receiving our answer. We grow quickly tired and discouraged when God does not immediately address our petitions. We even begin to doubt that our prayers are heard; our faith grows soft around the edges.
It is faith alone, however, that overcomes our doubt and weakness. Faith reminds our hearts that we trust completely in God’s promise that he will answer our prayer. The parable that Jesus offered does not show the widow giving up. She believes in the righteousness of her petition and will continue to bring it before the judge until she can no longer make the journey to the bench. At that point she will likely enlist her neighbors and friends to carry her petition. She will not give up because she believes her cause to be right. Is our prayer aligned with God’s will? If so, it will be answered, even if we must be made to wait.
The farmer does not expect a harvest from a single seed. He does not prepare the ground and then drop a single kernel into the earth expecting an immediate harvest. The farmer plants hundreds or thousands of seeds in anticipation of their maturity. He is long suffering, knowing that must receive a full season of sun and rain before that harvest comes. There are no shortcuts.
And so it is with prayer.