Are you the kind of person who likes to give an explanation and have the listener understand right away so you can move onto the next thing? I’d like to say I’m not like this, but reality reveals otherwise. In the course of a day, someone in my world isn’t grasping a math concept, or remembering how to properly clean a bathroom, or needing me to explain something else again and again. More times than I care to admit, I’m quickly frustrated by having to repeat myself. When someone responds with long-suffering and compassion, it amazes me. My dad is this kind of person. He loves to share any knowledge he has and he patiently works with someone until they reach that a-ha moment, where what seemed so confusing is now crystal clear.
I wonder how many times my dad has had to repeat a concept over and over and over again. It’s not that he has all the time in the world; I mean, he’s a busy man. But, he is willing to wait and keep waiting until a concept has been grasped because there is a purpose behind the wait. The purpose could be for his daughter to finally grasp that geometry theorem (true story), or his future-wife to comprehend chemistry (true story), or his grandchild to understand physics (again, true story; my dad is a ‘saint’!). Whatever the purpose may be, it outweighs the challenge of persisting over and over again with someone until they get it.
Persisting is a long-term action. We don’t hear of people persisting through an hour-long band concert. Tedious though it may be, persisting wouldn’t quite describe this short event. Waiting may be short or long, but persisting is something we do during a long wait for the purpose of seeing something accomplished.
In the Bible we learn of a woman who persisted. She is known, in fact, as “The Persistent Widow”. Jesus spoke of her in a parable to show His disciples that ‘men always ought to pray and not lose heart’. How kind of Jesus to give us a visual of how we are to pray when we may be tempted to give up and grow weary.
Along with the disciples, perhaps we too are losing heart and growing weary? How are we to keep going, Jesus?
When I put myself into the position of the Persistent Widow, I imagine her being compelled to seek justice for her situation. She’d been wronged in some significant way and even spoke of having an adversary or enemy. This affected all of her life.
Still imagining, I’m sure there would be days when she would rather pull the covers over her head and pretend her troubles were gone. Maybe she could have shriveled up in fear and intimidation. She didn’t. Instead, she persisted day after day. She never gave up. Jesus spoke of her persistence being so great that the judge was troubled and becoming wearied because she continued to come before him.
Are our prayers like this? Are we crying out to our just Judge in persistence? Sadly I acknowledge there are times when I see the prayer app reminder on my phone and ignore it only because I feel hopeless about the situation. But, day after day we must persist before the Lord with our cries for mercy, for healing, for reconciliation, for wisdom, for guidance.
Persisting is how we ought to pray and keep from losing heart.
Each morning this persistent woman likely woke up remembering her need for justice. As a widow, she may have been seeking this justice because of financial reasons. Whatever it was, she was heavily motivated to wake up every day and persuade the judge to give her justice. Her persistence came from a driving purpose. Why could my dad persist in teaching my mom chemistry? Because his purpose was greater than her frustration—he wanted her to learn a concept he loved, he wanted her to get an A in the class, and he wanted to date her. There were greater purposes behind the immediate challenge.
Are our prayers purposeful? Or do we give up praying because we’ve forgotten why we started? Sure, the wait can be long; yes, it can become defeating when answers don’t seem to come; but, are our prayers about our comfort or are they about bringing a loved one to salvation or healing to a relationship or seeking guidance? The reasons are endless for praying. We must not forget the purpose behind our prayers, especially when the wait is long and God may seem silent.
Maintaining our purpose reminds us why we pray and it keeps us from losing heart.
Jesus’ parable in Luke 18 was to show His disciples-and us-how to pray and not lose heart. If you’ve ever asked God, “How long?!?” you are not alone: see Psalm 13, Psalm 35, Habakkuk 1 for starters. In waiting, God deepens our trust in Him and strengthens our dependency on Him. This is true and something we need to be reminded of often because the wait can be long and difficult.
Waiting on God to answer our prayers can feel like walking alone in a seemingly endless dark hallway. Without lights or anyone nearby, we don’t know if we’re going in the right direction, we don’t have answers to our questions. It can seem frightening and, while we want to jump in and fix the situation, we are helpless to do so.
But, God is doing so much more beyond what we’re feeling during these times. We may feel alone, but we’re not (“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5). We may feel lost, but we’re not (“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2)
God is sovereign and in control, orchestrating far more details in our wait than we could ever comprehend:
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Amen. Love, Wendy