Jesus once told a parable about a widow who had been treated unjustly. Day after day, she pleaded with the local judge to rule in her favor and bring justice to her case. But this judge, according to Jesus, was a terrible judge. He "neither feared God nor cared what people thought" (Luke 18:2). This judge was only concerned with one person—himself—and since a poor widow couldn't do anything for him, he was not concerned with granting her the justice she deserved.
Read Luke 18:1-8. In the end, the judge did the right thing, but it wasn't because he had a change of heart. Instead, it was because the widow's persistent badgering grew so tiresome that he decided to rule in her favor. Without clarification, we might conclude that God wants us to pester people until we get our way. But Jesus told us His point. He said, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?" (18:7). This parable is an instruction: Jesus calls us to be relentless in our prayers, even when it seems God isn't answering.
God is always working with greater purposes in mind.
There are times when God does not answer our prayers. In fact, the Bible tells us there are at least four reasons why God may not be answering our prayers. It may be because of doubt (James 1:6-7), wrong motives (James 4:3), or unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18). And sometimes, we give up too soon—we are impatient and lose heart. That's what Jesus was highlighting in this parable.
Notice that the woman's cause was just. That's the kind of prayer God wants to answer. However, He is the Lord of the universe. He sees what you and I cannot. That's why we must trust that when God delays an answer to prayer or seems not to be answering at all, He has a good reason. God is always working with greater purposes in mind. And, unlike the judge in this parable, He is compassionate and just.
We may not know the reason for God's delay in answering, but we do know that He wants us to continue bringing our concerns before Him. He doesn't say, "I'm tired of hearing this!" Instead, He tells us to keep coming—not because He isn't listening but because He is—and because He wants our hearts to find their rest in Him.
Prayer: Father, help me to trust that You are always working for my good. Grow my faith and grant me peace that transcends understanding as I entrust my burdens to You in prayer. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Prayer Prescriptions: LISTEN NOW