Shopping with children is always an adventure, but you can always count on one thing: they will want something! The question is what will that something be? Sometimes it’s an impulsive “gotta have it,” and other times, it’s an unfulfilled longing that has grown over time.
As a child, I remember, nagging my parents for the same thing over and over. My nagging had one very specific purpose: to
ensure they knew how much I really wanted that bike, toy horse, “boom box,” etc. I knew if I kept at it, the prospect of a favorable response was high. Sometimes, however, my desire was not granted – despite my persistence.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” (New Living Translation)
The Greek word translated here as “wearing me out” is hypōpiazō.
Hypōpiazō: to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises and livid spots – like a boxer one buffets his body
The unjust judge essentially compared her to a brawler! He had finally met his match!
That’s more than a little persistence, if you ask me. The passage continues:
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” Luke 18:1-8 (New Living Translation)
Unlike the unjust judge, God doesn’t answer us reluctantly. He loves to hear our prayers and provide an answer. But we too often interpret “unanswered prayers” as disregarded prayers. Or, that somehow God is not willing, or capable, of helping us. In truth, God is listening, more than capable, and working through the situation to bring a solution that is perfect, in his perfect time. That doesn’t me we should stop praying, however. And it doesn’t mean we should allow our words to be hollow offerings devoid of belief in His promises or ability. Persistent prayer refines us, transforms us and brings us closer to the heart of Christ.
Just as I know the difference between an impulsive and heart-felt request from my child, the unjust judge knew the widow’s request was genuine and unwavering. But God takes this human insight one step further — he knows the heart motivation out of which all our prayers are born.
When we pray out of a heart that believes, trusts, and aligns itself with the will of God, how much more will the Lord seek to bless us when we ask…with persistence?
Father in Heaven, I’m thankful that you don’t hold my persistence against me…but rather that you welcome it. On top of that, unlike the judge in the parable, I have constant access to your throne through Christ Jesus. You are a judge who loves to care for me, who knows me, will advocate for me and is gracious to me. Your answer is perfect – as is your timing. Help me to pray with a heart that desires only your will for my life – no matter how long it may take. Help me to claim the promises I believe you’ve given me, and to trust that you are more than capable of delivering! Amen.
Taking it deeper:
When it comes to prayer, are you a nag? Could you nag more? When you ask God for something, to you pray with an expectant heart?
Is there a promise God has offered that you need to claim? If so, will you commit to praying for it from your heart with consistency, conviction and persistence?