And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Luke 18:1

Luke’s opening words to the 18th chapter of his Gospel account serve as a guide to interpreting Jesus’ parable concerning the woman known as the persistent widow. Jesus relates the story of how a widow repeatedly sought out a particular judge desiring justice against someone who was taking advantage of her. The judge, having no personal concern for her issue (or anyone else’s for that matter), and possessing no reverence for God to guide his convictions, eventually gives in to her badgering and rules in her favor just to make the nuisance go away. The moral of Jesus’ story was that if an unrighteous, uncaring judge, who had no concern for those who come to him for justice, would grant what was requested, how much more will our Father in heaven, who loves us unconditionally, quickly answer the cry of His children who appeal to Him for justice.

Jesus presented a stark contrast between a Palestinian widow desiring justice in a court of law ruled by an uncaring judge and a child of God who approaches the Father’s throne of grace and is received with compassion. However, I believe there are moments where some believers feel that they are approaching a God who, like the uncaring judge, must be persuaded to overcome His reluctance to meet their needs. In reality, our greatest challenge has nothing to do with convincing God of anything, but in preparing ourselves to receive His answer—in His way—in His timing.

Luke’s introduction presupposes that we could reach a point in calling out to God where we eventually give up and walk away with our faith of God and trust in the power of prayer diminished. As a young boy, I remember praying for my dad’s health to return following a series of debilitating strokes. Eleven years of praying did not bring the result I had hoped, but God’s presence through every one of those days challenged me to believe that He was accomplishing more through the process of prayer than in the result I had hoped. 

I have come to believe that prayer is far more a test of our own faith in God than it is the pursuit of an answer we desire.