God is keen to listen to his people’s prayers. Let’s pray to him in humble faithfulness.
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.”
4 ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’
6 And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’
I (Maddie) find that, as a teenager, it is very easy to make yourself comfortable in one position – sitting or lying down – and then never want to move again. Unfortunately, I do have to eat from time to time, so I get up to make myself a bowl of Weet-Bix, or a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Then I sit down again. What I am left with after my meal is a dirty plate and absolutely no desire to go and put said plate into the dishwasher, even though I know deep in my adolescent heart that that is where it belongs. Understandably Mum finds it difficult when her children do not clean up after themselves and asks me kindly to please put the plate in the dishwasher. I do not move. It is perhaps 30 minutes later that she returns to find me still sitting down with a dirty plate beside me, pretending that if I don’t make eye-contact with her, she won’t ask me to get up. But she does! So with deep moaning and gnashing of teeth I stand and pop the plate in the sink and return to my seat. Now – and I personally find this next part of the routine immensely rude and unfair – but when my Dad comes home, he and Mum do a little tag team thing, and then he asks me to please just put the plate in the dishwasher. And I’ll admit the only reason that I pull myself up out of the chair and walk 3 meters into the kitchen is for them to just leave me alone.
In the passage, we see that nagging works even when someone is focussed on themselves – here it is a vulnerable widow, and a complacent or corrupt judge. Jesus mentions this as an introduction to talking about prayer. Does this mean that we need to nag God, in the same way that the widow nags the judge, or in the same way that a parent nags about the dishwasher? Not so. Rather, Jesus is pointing out that if even an unfaithful judge eventually listens to repeated requests, how much more eager is a faithful judge and Father willing and ready to listen to his people! In verse 1, we’re told that this story is encourage the disciples to be persistent and, I guess, to be encouraged that God is ready to hear. And we can take that encouragement too – God still loves to listen to his people!
However, in the last verse, Jesus turns the attention back to us. Although God is faithful in listening to prayer, are we faithful on our side of the relationship? Are we talking to God? Do we listen to him first, and understand his priorities? Are we praying “Your kingdom come”, as it were? Or do our prayers reflect a faithfulness to ourselves, ahead of a faithfulness to God? Jesus leaves this question hanging in the air, inviting us to reflect on our side of the prayer relationship. He’ll go on to say more about it in the next part of Luke’s account.
Head: What do you think in means to be faithful when it comes to prayer? Is it about how often we pray? The content of our prayer? Our attitude or priorities as we approach God?
Heart: What determines your priorities when you pray? Why?
Hands: If you have decided you’d like to make some changes in how you pray, why not make a simple prayer diary to help you to remember and implement? Maybe you could use a small notebook or the notes app on your phone. Protip: start simple.
Prayer: Dear Lord, We are sorry for talking to you with a priority to get what we want rather than responding to your love for us. Thank you for giving Jesus to us, not for yours or his sake, but for ours. Please help us to live selflessly in your name and to grow to be faithful to you every day, and reflect this in how we talk with you. In Jesus’ name, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen
A song to listen to: How Deep the Father’s Love (Chelsea Moon & Uncle Daddy)
Maddie Pryde and Geoff Pryde
Living Church – Creek Road campus