A Heavyweight Prayer Warrior: The Persistent Widow
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told his disciples a story to teach them that they should pray and never give up.
It’s called the parable of the persistent widow. Here Jesus paints a picture of an unjust judge being worn out by the incessant pleading of the doggedly determined widow, for justice over her adversary.
The wording used to describe the widow’s importunity, “she is wearing me out,” is a boxing terminology. Literally, it expresses the nature of a boxer striking his opponent and rendering him bruised. For Luke, it seemed to be a fitting metaphor to bring imagery from the arena of sport to everyday common life, as did Paul (1 Corinthians 9:27).
We talk of fighters being hard hitters or throwing knockout punches. What is being described here is a continuous flurry of blows, each of which is short of a knockout blow, while their accumulative effect paints a picture of the man being so “bruised” that he is glad to give in to any request.
Praying hard is going twelve rounds with God, much like Jacob wrestling with the angel well into the night (Genesis 32:22-32). As Mark Batterson says, “A heavyweight prayer bout with God Almighty can be excruciating and exhausting, but that is how the greatest prayer victories are won.”
The judge in this story knew the woman would keep beating on his chambers until the day she died if she didn’t get justice, and it wore him out. Her unrelenting persistence was the only difference between justice and injustice.
It’s important to remember that the judge in this story isn’t a comparison to God, but a contrast. The judge is unjust, God is perfectly just. The judge is bothered by the woman’s continual coming, God craves our communion with Him. The judge could’ve cared less if the woman had deceased. Yet God is so intimately connected with us that He numbers the very hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He longs for us to pray without growing weary. As a perfect Father, He longs to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7:11).
The relevant question here is, how is your prayer stamina? How are you holding up in the prayer closet? Have you grown weary or are you sparring with God in consistent and healthy ways? Remember that prayer is not a means of manipulating God or coercing Him to do what we want. It is a wrestling process of recognizing God’s power and plan for our lives. God is the perfect sparring partner. As we lean into Him not only for the outcome of our requests, but for revelation into the process as well, we find the stamina to keep coming to the Lord in prayer, trusting in His all-sufficient grace and wisdom to care for us.
In regards to our energy and persistence in prayer, will God find faith? (Luke 18:8)
Question for Reflection:
- Take an honest assessment of your prayer life. What do you see?
- Have you become weary about praying over a specific issue in your life? Perhaps God wants you to spar with Him about trusting in His process.
- How can you become more consistent and persistent in prayer without trying to dictate how God should answer?
- Is God finding faith in your life? If not, what needs to happen for it to be reborn?
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