Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “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.’ “For some time he refused. But finally, he 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 18:1-5
Star athletes understand the importance of delayed gratification. That is, they invest a great amount of time in practicing their craft so they can be prepared to outperform their opponents. Athletes like Magic Johnson, Steph Curry, and LeBron James are renowned for their work ethic offseason so they can win championships.
Championships are not won at the beginning of the regular season. In professional Basketball, teams have to play 82 games to be qualified for the playoffs. Then, they have to play several games in the playoffs to reach the final so they can win the championship. Simply put, teams have to delay their hope and desire by at least eight months to be crowned champion if they beat every other team.
Many of the answers to our prayers will be delayed. This delay could be for a variety of reasons only God knows. From the perspective of the person who is waiting for an answer from God, delays are frustrating and discouraging. Delays can make us assume God is not going to answer our prayer; and if we do that, we may forfeit our long-awaited blessing.
In today’s text, Jesus gives the parable of the persistent widow. This widow was determined to get an answer from the unjust judge no matter how long it took. She kept coming to the judge with the plea ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ This widow never gave up. She put in the work—if you will—and kept the pressure on the judge until he granted her the justice she was determined to receive.
Jesus used that parable to teach His disciples about persistence in prayer. He knew that the most challenging part about the praying exercise is waiting for God to answer. Most people do not understand that God does not operate according to our sense of time. God is never in a hurry. He grants our petitions according to His will and His timing.
One of the strategies for coping with delayed prayer answers is “Don’t stop praying.” Like the persistent widow, when our need is great our determination and persistence in prayer should be greater. When she was alive, my mother often reminded me of the persistent widow. She would pray for the same thing over and over and over until she gets her answer from God. And afterward, she would continue praying with fervency and thanksgiving.
When we keep praying during the waiting stage, we get more clarity of purpose from God. We also become stronger as our spiritual muscles are forced to expand. Praying without ceasing sensitizes us to the voice and presence of the Lord. Thus, we become more grounded in our faith and more determined in our petitioning.
If you’ve been waiting for an answer from God, “just keep on praying.” When your spirit feels like giving up, remember the persistent widow and how she received her delayed justice from the unjust judge. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you remain persistent in prayer, and don’t let an attitude of discouragement determine the altitude of your fervency in prayer. Trust God, and He will not disappoint you.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How do you feel when the answer to your prayer is delayed?
How can you help someone who is thinking about giving up on God because their answer is delayed?
Prayer- Most Holy Father, please send your Spirit to strengthen and encourage me when the answer to my prayer is delayed. Remind me of the many things you have done for me in the past so I can trust in the present and wait on you in the future. May I do not grow weary in waiting, but persist in praying so I can see the manifestation of your glory in my life!