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Understanding the Parable of the Persistent Widow

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understanding the parable of the persistent widow

Can I Tell You a Secret?

I love math. Always have.

In middle school I joined the math team and went on state-wide competitions. I loved the logic, being able to check your work, and having multiple ways to solve the problem.

Recently I was teaching my daughter Algebra, and we were solving for the intersection point of two linear functions. You can use the substitution method, the elimination method, graphing or (for higher levels) matrices. When dividing, you can sometimes leave things as fractions or make them decimals depending on what you are trying to accomplish or which is easier to you.

I love having more than one way to find a solution. It means if you hit a road block you try a different method.

Persistence is a Great Thing.

I carry this on to many things in life. When I am faced with a situation that seems to stop me, I back up to try to figure out how to create a work-around. Sometimes when we get a closed door, it just means to try harder.

In the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), there is a woman who keeps coming up to a solid dead end with the judge. He doesn’t care about her case; he doesn’t care about her injustice. But, he finally listens to her case because she kept persisting to be heard.

Jesus says that God will at least do this. How can He ignore those He loves?

A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight

This chapter ends with a story about a blind beggar (Luke 18: 35-43). This man was sitting by the road when he heard that Jesus was passing by. He immediately started yelling for Jesus to have mercy on him. The people in the crowd tried to hush him up, but he just shouted all the more.

Too often we don’t get the answer to our prayer and resign ourselves to the fact that it must not be in God’s will. Other people may also be telling us to give up on the hope. What are we going to believe?

  • God doesn’t care for us.
  • Our request doesn’t matter.
  • We are being too needy.
  • Or, God does care and is worth continuing to pursue Him.

Don’t Give Up Before He Answers

Jesus eventually heals this man and commends his faith. In regards to the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus questions whether He would find faith on the earth, like that of the widow. Continuing to pursue God for our requests seems to be a sign of faith to Jesus.

Peter tells us to cast our cares on Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). However, we often give up on Him. Abraham waited 25 years for the promised son. Moses waited 40 additional years before being sent back to set His people free. However, I often can’t make it past a week before giving up on my prayers.

My Friend’s Sister Accepted Jesus

The other day, a friend of mine told of how his sister just accepted Jesus. Because of his parents’ divorce, he grew up in a different home than his sister, but when he became a Christian, he started praying for her to come to the Lord. She often showed no interest when they talked about Jesus, but he continued to pray. He didn’t give up and now he gets to celebrate her decision.

  • Some of you may ask, “how do I know if it is God’s will?”
  • I will return that question to you, “how do you know it isn’t?”

How Do We Respond to God’s Delayed Answers?

How then are we to respond?

  • Don’t give up hope.
  • Don’t doubt God’s love for you.
  • Continue to pursue Him.
  • Ask the question differently.
  • Listen for a response from God.

Persistence in prayer is not about getting what you want; it is about connecting with God about the topic. Don’t take a lack of answer for God’s answer. We need to be a people of faith, which includes persisting through the unknown.

Our faith is not in getting what we want, but it’s about trusting in God being for us. Trusting that He who did not spare His own Son but sent Him to die, how would He not also gives us all things (Romans 8:32)?

May this encourage you to persist in your prayers. God has more for you and enjoys you talking to Him.

Want more on persistent prayer? Check out these two books: The Power of Persistent Prayer: Praying with Greater Purpose and Passion by Cindy Jacobs and Radical Prayer: The Power of Being Bold and Persistent by Manny Hill

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