Praying Like It Matters
The unjust judge in Jesus’ parable admits that he eventually decides to grant the persistent widow justice because she has worn him out by continually “bothering” him (Luke 18:5). And this is the character to whom Jesus compares God? Is Jesus trying to tell us that God feels worn out and bothered by our prayers? That’s not a very comforting notion.
Of course, that interpretation misses the very first line of this passage, in which Jesus specifically says the parable is meant to underscore the importance of prayer. The widow’s diligence is set as a spiritual example. She is confident in her case. She knows she deserves justice, and she will not stop until she is heard. What would it look like if we prayed with the kind of conviction this woman displays? We would know that our prayers matter, that they can make a real difference in our lives. Like the widow, we too would believe that justice can and will become reality.
Actually, we do pray this way every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. When we call out to God, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven,” we are praying like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable. We can be certain God hears that prayer and shares that dream for humanity. It is not prayer that wearies God, but human sinfulness and injustice.
God is nothing like the unjust judge because God’s vision for our world is one that centers on generosity, compassion, and care for the vulnerable. The unjust judge may need to be hassled repeatedly before he will relent, but God is already overflowing with abundant mercy, even before our prayers are spoken. So, let us take heart and pray always, with our words and with our actions, as we join God’s mission for a more just world.
Devotional message and art based on the readings for October 16th, 2022
Reprinted from sundaysandseasons.com.
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