It can be hard to keep praying. Especially when our prayer does not get answered immediately.
Jesus understood this, and it’s why most of His teachings on prayer were encouragements to persevere in the place of prayer. This is what the parable in Luke 18 is all about.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
Way back in 2011 I did a short teaching on Perseverance in Prayer at The Boiler Room. I’ve uploaded it to Youtube and you can listen below. I’ve extracted a few points below that may help you become more persistent in your prayer life.
1. We will only keep praying if we know who God really is
The whole parable in Luke 18 is a parable of contrast. God is not an unjust judge, and the Church is not a begging widow. He is a loving Father and we are the “elect” (literally chosen by God) sons and daughters.
Think about it… why would we keep coming before a God who is grumpy, mad, condemning and mean? But when we realize that the One we pray to is the most amazing, good, beautiful, kind, gracious Being in the universe, then we find great joy in our conversations with Him. This is what Jesus was getting at in Luke 11:13.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
2. Faith fuels perseverance through God’s word
Jesus ends this parable with an interesting question… “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
What does faith have to do with prayer? Everything! You see Romans 10:17 says that faith is hearing and believing God’s word. If God says He is good and says we are His children, then we have to believe Him! This is called faith.
I think you could even say that persevering in prayer is one of the greatest demonstrations of one’s faith. And the greatest way to build your faith is by filling your life with the word of God.
3. God’s priority is the interaction as much as the results
When prayer requires perseverance, we can sometimes start to believe we are earning the results. While there is definite power released from persistent prayer, it is not a formula, and every answer is only by God’s grace and His power through us.
I can’t prove this, but maybe sometimes God delays the answer to our prayer just to keep us coming back to Him. Have you ever prayed hard in crisis and then slacked off when times got easier? Of course. We all have.
God is a relational God. Jesus came to earth, died and rose again just to restore His love relationship with humanity. He really want us and really likes us. God could answer every prayer in a moment, but in His love and wisdom He chooses to partner with us. And He is inviting us to keep coming back to Him. Before, during and after our prayers our answered.