I was a brat. That is the simplest way to describe my attitude leading up to my monumental 16th birthday. I have an August birthday, so I was the last one among my friends who needed a license. My eyes, mind, and heart were set on getting my license ON my birthday, not a day later. Unfortunately, the DMV did not have any driving test openings until September. I felt dead inside. I could not possibly wait an entire extra month before I got my license. That is when I began begging, and it was not pretty. I asked my parents everyday to pay a ridiculous amount of money for me to take my driver’s test through a driving school on the day of birthday. My sweet parents finally gave in, and I passed my driver’s test on my 16th birthday. I am not proud of the way I acted. I should have patiently waited to take my driver’s test a month later, but I was persistent. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, persistence means “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition,” but it also means “the continued or prolonged existence of something.” And there you will find my picture with my car keys next to the word! Behavior like this is similar to the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, where we learn how our Father pursues our hearts and requires the same persistence in our prayer lives.
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” The purpose of this parable is clearly stated in verse one: we should always pray. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, teaching them to be persistent men of prayer. The emphasis on prayer cannot be overlooked. Prayer is vital in the life of a believer who is actively seeking God and pursuing godliness. Prayer is our way of communicating with the most powerful Being in all eternity, our loving Father, and the King of Kings. Jesus spent time in prayer. He taught His disciples to pray. Therefore, shouldn’t we make prayer a reality in our own lives? In this parable, Jesus encourages us to not only pray, but to pray persistently. Let’s go back to the definition of persistence. According to the definition, a persistent prayer means you are firm in praying, especially when life gets hard. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It also means that you are not simply praying once; you are continually praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:7 says, “Pray without ceasing.”
To show the application of persistence, Jesus told the story of the widow. This woman was the definition of persistence. She had been dealt with unjustly, yet she did not let her circumstances defeat her. She continually went to an ungodly judge and demanded justice. It was her continual stubbornness and firmness in the midst of hardship that made an ungodly judge give her righteousness. Jesus teaches that the same method applies to our prayer lives. Whatever season of life you are in, continually pray and firmly bring your requests before the Lord. But I get it. This doesn’t seem right. How do we approach the Most High God and ask Him to care about the silly girly details of our lives? Isn’t that kind of selfish? The truth is we are called to be persistent in prayer because God was persistent after our hearts.
God Pursues You Persistently
Before the Fall, God wanted a relationship with us. Genesis 3:8 says that God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. After the Fall, our relationship was broken, but God was persistent in saving us. John 3:16 says that God sent His very own Son to die so that we could have a relationship with Him. Even after we are saved, God continues to pursue every area of life until we are completely and wholly surrendered to Him. Hebrews 12:6 says “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves.” He molds us, changes us, and does not allow us to stay in sin. God is persistent in His love for us because we are His beloved creation whom He adores. So why persistently pray? For God to get the glory He so rightly deserves. Verses 6-8 say, “And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.’” If an ungodly man can give justice to a persistent widow, then a good Father will give justice to His persistent child. Now, do not interpret this the wrong way. This is not a free pass for us to ask God to give us the beautiful car or perfect boyfriend that we so “desperately need.” This is our opportunity to ask God to do something that only He can do, so that we may worship Him and give Him praise. Think about it like this. If you have no idea what you want to do when you grow up, but you are persistently asking God to lead you in making the right decision, then wouldn’t the same God who loves you and sent His Son to die for you give you direction and wisdom? The answer is yes.
The parable of the persistent widow teaches us that our loving Father has pursued us; therefore, He desires that same persistence after Him in our prayer lives. The wait is hard; sometimes God is not quick to answer. Sometimes the answer is not what we anticipated or even wanted, but God is sovereign and sufficient over all we bring to Him. He is good, and His plans are good. We must trust and obey. So today, whatever you need, bring it to the Father. Be persistent with your request. Stay firm and be in it for the long run. God wants us to pursue Him persistently and trust Him to come through.
Father, You are good. Thank You for being persistent after my heart, even when I am so unfaithful to You. Lord, I need this (insert your request). I trust You and trust in Your plan for my life. I choose to be persistent in this request like the widow. I love You!