Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, "There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: 'My rights are being violated. Protect me!'
"He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, 'I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won't quit badgering me, I'd better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I'm going to end up beaten black and blue by her pounding.'"
Then the Master said, "Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won't step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won't he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?"
This story is one for us. Honestly, it’s one for every era. Because in every era there has been injustice and pain and the rights of the marginalized being violated. The widow has nobody to protect her except the judge. The judge is corrupt and doesn’t care about the widow. He just wants her to go away. Why does he want her to go away? Because she doesn’t quit. She never stops demanding justice. She just keeps up the pressure. Finally, he gives in. The judge grants her justice in light of her persistence.
The granting of justice is another way of talking about reconciliation. All justice granting is reconciliation. Reconciliation is the bigger category that is inclusive of justice. It is also healing broken relationships, broken hearts, and sin-sick souls. Reconciliation is that work of bringing people fully into community with one another. Where injustice exists that means that some are on the outside looking in.
So, as we look at this world and its injustices we must pray. We must pray with a persistent faith. A faith that doesn’t quit. What is that persistence rooted in? It’s rooted in this reality that God is sovereign and good. Surely, God is better than the corrupt judge! Surely, God will respond to the prayer of his people for justice.
Persistent faith is not easy. It’s not easy because there is something in this teaching by Jesus that leaves us puzzling. That is, if God is going to act quickly then why do we need persistent faith? Why do we need to pray without quitting? How much better would this world be if injustice was eliminated over night?
I’m beginning to think that it is because as we pray we must also embrace our responsibility. The widow acted. She didn’t sit home and wait for the judge to respond. She went to the judge and demanded justice.
What if part of our persistent faith is to pray with all of who we are and then enter into the world with a confidence that God is going to act and reconcile things?
What if, we are the answer to the prayer that we pray?
Could it be that as we pray for God to set the world right, he is whispering to us, “I did on the cross, now go and do likewise”?
It very well could be.