When I Don't See My Prayer Being Answered
True confession: when I pray for something important, and I don't see an answer come quickly, I become discouraged.
How about you- ever prayed for something vital but the answer hasn't showed up yet? Healing of a disease or salvation of a loved one? Financial rescue or return of a prodigal? A desperately needed job or resolution of a conflict?
I believe the Lord answers prayer. But there are requests I have prayed for years, and so far I have not seen an answer.
The accuser taunts me, "Maybe you should quit. God probably isn’t even listening and you should just give up."
Jesus knew that between my enemy's lies and my own short-sightedness, I would be tempted to quit. He observes my impatience and lack of stick-to-it-ness. So, to encourage me, He sat me down and told me a story.
Well, the story isn’t just for me. Jesus first told it to his disciples in Galilee, and we have Luke the Physician to thank for recording it.
Don't Give Up, Don't Lose Heart
Luke 18:1, in the Amplified version begins, "Now Jesus was telling the disciples a parable to make the point that at all times they ought to pray and not give up and lose heart"
How amazingly straightforward.
Why did Jesus tell this story? This is why: to tell His disciples they OUGHT to pray. And when they do, they should NOT GIVE UP and they should NOT LOSE HEART.
- One thing I LOVE about this: Jesus knows me so well. He knows I might lose heart and would then be tempted to give up. He is not surprised at my weariness or discouragement. But He tells me to keep praying!
Now that we know the lesson the parable teaches, let’s get to the story. Here is the cast, straight from the parable:
- Judge: a man who does not fear God nor respect people (in other words the exact judge no one wants to hear their case)
- Widow: a woman who does not have protection, but does have an attacking adversary
The poor widow has a problem and needs justice. Her judge, unfortunately, does not have justice as his highest priority. But here is her secret weapon: she is just so darn persistent.
- And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary. (Luke 18:3 ESV)
Eventually she wears him down and he settles the case for her, just so she will stop bothering him.
- For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. (Luke 18:4-5 ESV)
Our Just Judge
If a widow can persistently appeal to an unjust judge to the point that he answers her plea, then why should we stop praying to our holy and righteous Father and Judge? That is exactly the point Jesus makes when he asks His disciples:
- 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? (Luke 18:6-7 ESV)
The widow had to plague a selfish man who did not respect her at all. But the kind of Judge you and I approach in prayer is like this:
- For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18 ESV)
This is why I should not give up and not lose heart! I appeal to the God who delivers justice.
He Gives Justice and Looks For Faith
- I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8 ESV)
Isn't that an interesting way for Jesus to end this parable? It is about persevering prayer prayer, but His concluding question is about His finding faith among His people. Here is the lesson- unless we are marathon prayers, we are not exhibiting faith. After all, faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
Jesus is asking me, if I am not sure how things will work out and I don't see answers to my prayers yet, will I still have faith? In Jesus? Will I rest in my Judge's timing and wait for Him to act? Will I keep coming to Him over and over, seeking justice?
Our persistent prayer exhibits faith. It believes when no answer is evident. It trusts when no solution has appeared.
It means I haven't lost heart. That is why I keep praying.
What have you prayed long and hard for, but haven't seen an answer yet? Put it in the comments below and I will pray with you.
But let me encourage you: don't stop praying! Don't give up! Don't lose heart!
We sit before a great Judge, Who will, "Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." (Psalm 82:3-4 ESV)