Luke 18:1-8 – And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (KJV)
In chapter sixteen of his book, The Power of Prayer, Andrew Murray deals with a subject that I am sure many people find difficult to deal with. It is the age-old problem of answers to prayer. So often we hear the complaint, "I prayed hard for God to heal my mother but she is still sick!" And our natural tendency is to sympathize and offer some encouragement. What the person needed but did not have is what a host of people do not have, and that is an understanding of all that prayer entails. The parable of the unjust judge and the plaintive woman requires much more than a cursory reading. The benighted woman did not know whether the judge would eventually weary of her "continual coming" and avenge her. The widow kept up her pleas until she was avenged, but she lacked any deeper knowledge of the judge.
Andrew Murray brings the matter into sharper focus. He suggests that when answers to our prayers do not come at once, we should "combine quiet patience and joyful confidence in our persevering prayer". The widow had perseverance and kept on asking, but the elements of patience, faith, trust, and praise, were noticeably absent. Even at the height of his torment, poor Job could still say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." (Job 13:15a KJV) The widow would not be patient and kept on hounding the judge. She had obviously lost trust and was far from praising him. But in our dealings with God, we do well to keep in mind the law of gradual growth — everything grows gradually. Scripture exhorts us to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18 KJV) Slowly but surely, we must get to know better the God with whom we are dealing. He often waits and longs for our training in faith, trust, patience, and praise to be complete before, in His infinite wisdom, He grants our petition.
People who become agitated because their prayers have not been answered should take stock of themselves by answering some of these pertinent questions:
- How well are you acquainted with God to make requests of Him?
- When last did you worship or praise Him in church, home, or elsewhere?
- Did you expect an instant miracle or allow God to decide?
- Do you consider yourself one of God's own elect? (Luke 18:7 KJV)
Prayer: Father of all grace, love, and power, enroll us in Your School of Prayer and teach us how to pray. Give us grace to take Your yoke upon us and learn of You to be meek and lowly of heart, patient and pure, like You. Amen.