How Long LORD,
Perseverance in Prayer - Psalm 6:3
Reprinted from JMunn.CSLD.Newsletter.August2011.
Long before the woman appears pregnant
and brings forth her child there is life growing within her.
Similarly, all those hours memorizing vocabulary words and
conjugating verbs, only to feel completely bewildered in
listening to this foreign language. But then, seemingly
suddenly, the riddles are unraveled, the babble is sensible,
the language is understood.
So in prayer – with great
determination, pressing in, not giving up, always believing,
earnest and deep heart cries – sometimes even after years of
seeing nothing change, suddenly – breakthrough! In a moment
the miracle comes, she is healed, delivered, rescued. He is
brought to his senses. After all those years. After a long
battle. Suddenly, finally, victory comes. Something was
happening all along. What took so long? What if we’d given up
Jesus repeatedly described the Kingdom
of Heaven as like a seed, or a farmer who plants the seed and
waters it consistently, doesn’t know how it grows, but it
surely does. Often imperceptible yet totally reliable growth
is happening in the seed cared for by the farmer, and in the
Kingdom of God when God’s people pray.
Key Scripture: Luke 18: 1-8
The ideas developed in this Scripture
include the struggle by the powerless for justice (18: 2-3),
demonstrated in Jesus’ selection of a widow, a vulnerable
woman, as the “hero” (18:1, 3), and the necessity of
relentless perseverance, fuelled by the imagination of what
can be, until justice is meted out (18: 3-7).
The Struggle of the Powerless for
"In a certain town there was a judge
who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And
there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the
plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'” Luke 18: 2-3
Jesus tells a parable of a widow in
need of justice, but the judge arbitrating her case is unjust.
The widow is without resources of any kind and has no hope of
ever extracting justice from such a judge. She is a symbol of
all who are poor and defenseless in the face of injustice.
Yet, despite her lowliness in society she recognizes a deeper
claim to recognition. This story told by Jesus shatters
stereotypes and highlights the power of the seeming powerless.
Some have called the Gospel of Luke
“The Gospel of the Outcast”. The earliest Christian
communities were people who had been without a future, but now
they had hope again; they were the people on the margins in
their society, but now they had community again.
Read Luke 18: 1-8
the injustices you see in the world – close at hand or around
the globe? How can
we pray for these?
the powerless, the vulnerable, in our day, like the widow was
in Jesus’ day? How can you, how can we Christians, help them?
you feel most powerless? What can you do about it? What can
you do with the sense of powerlessness?
praying out loud from the book of Psalms, for example, from
Psalm 6 and 13 where David prayed, “How long, LORD?”
The Image of God -- As Judge or
"Finally [the judge] said to himself,
'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet
because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she
gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack
me!'” Luke 18: 4-5
The traditional interpretation of the
unjust judge of Luke 18 is that the judge represents God, not
in the sense of corrupting justice, but in the sense of
supreme power and authority. This does affirm one aspect of
the image of God.
We must remember that the theme of the
vindication of the powerless is a constant one in the
Scriptures, and the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth continued
this identification of the chosen of God with the poor. In two
of Luke’s earlier parables, the woman represents God (the
Kingdom likened to a woman with yeast in Luke 13:20-21 and to
a woman searching for a lost coin in Luke 15:8- 10).
Here in the Luke 18 parable the widow
demonstrates a God-like quality – the relentless pursuit of
justice. She embodies godly power in the midst of apparent
powerlessness. This is our God, the God of compassion who
brings good news to the poor, does not break the bruised reed
or extinguish the smoking wick. This gives hope to those who
wait in darkness, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and in the
persistent widow of Luke 18. We as followers of Jesus are
invited to the same: to draw on the power of weakness to
overcome death dealing powers.
some characteristics of God from both the Old and New
aspects of God’s character are especially important to you at
this time in your life?
how the LORD is revealed in this parable in both the judge and
do you receive from thinking about these things?
Relentless Perseverance Fuelled by
There was a widow in that town who
kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me
justice against my adversary.' . . .
And will not God bring about justice for his
chosen ones, who cry out to him day
and night? Luke 18: 3, 7
The powerlessness of the widow in this
parable is beyond doubt. Her case looks hopeless. The woman’s
only asset is her persistence. In the Kingdom of God as told
by Jesus in this parable, her persistence is enough. In
teaching this parable Jesus not only demonstrates a concern
for a widow, but even the implication that this woman’s
conduct – persistent, relentless, importunate, annoying
perhaps -- was a model to the disciples of divinely affirmed
behavior. It is difficult to imagine a stronger endorsement of
the widow’s persistence than that given by Jesus.
Through this teaching Jesus calls us
to persist in challenging injustice because the way things are
is not necessarily the way things are meant to be. This
includes countless cultural practices that need to be
challenged with the new thing that has happened and continues
to happen through the entrance in the flesh, of Jesus Christ
into the human story. Existing culture must be challenged and
at times confronted with the redemptive word of Scripture
The parable of the persistent widow
expresses the potential impact of refusing to give up on a
vision, an imagination of justice restored.
have you been persevering in prayer? What are the things for
which you need God to “suddenly” break in?
your dreams for how things can be rather than how they are?
How can we
encourage each other to persevere, and never give up?
Then Jesus told his disciples a
parable to show them that they should always pray and not give
up. Luke 18:1
You don’t have to see God to know him.
Faith, which works by love, can see in
Lyell M. Rader