Monday Moment, April 29th
Luke 18:1-8 (NRSV)
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
On one of my morning walks the other day, I was amused by a little dog in our neighborhood. He was barking nonstop at the front door of his home, impatient to be let back inside. I wanted to tell him that he could stop the incessant barking, that his owners knew he was there, and that he just needed to be patient. Silly dog!
Then I thought about the times when I am waiting for an elevator that is taking a while. I push the elevator button a few more times- even though it is already glowing from my initial push. I know I should be patient, I should give the elevator time to arrive, and yet I feel compelled to push the button anyway! Silly Karen!
These moments remind me of the parable of the unjust judge. When we don’t receive an immediate answer to our prayer, we may become like the barking dog or the bothersome widow and keep repeating the same prayer over and over. Some would read this parable as Jesus’ encouragement for us to just keep asking God, to keep bothering God until we get our answers. Others would say that this parable is a story of opposites, that God is totally unlike the unjust judge and will immediately hear our prayers. Jesus seems to say both, which is beautiful in itself (verses 1 and then 7-8).
Jesus knows that the real blessing found in our prayers is that we are the ones changed in the praying of them. God will always be God; God will always hear our prayers and lovingly answer them. Jesus invites us to pray all the time and to keep asking, not because we need to get God’s attention, but because there is a blessing for us in the asking.
Our pestering prayers keep us seeking God. As we wait for answers, we remain expectant, watchful, aware. The fact that we keep pushing the elevator button tells us that we haven’t given up hope. If we truly thought it was futile to wait, we would simply walk away. But we know the elevator is there even when we cannot see it. We know the doors will eventually open. So it is with our prayers. We know God will answer us. We know that there is movement in the silence while we wait. We know God is working, so we will not walk away but remain steadfast in hope.
Another thought that occurs to me is that I am assigning human limitations to God, who is limitless. If God is pure love, does God become annoyed or impatient? We humans may tire of being pestered, but does our infinite and awesome God ever grow weary? Perhaps our pestering prayers even bring joy to God, who truly wants to love us completely and constantly.
Oh, there are times when we do find peace in lifting our prayers to God and then leaving them there. But when we feel we need to keep pestering, we can trust that God willingly receives our unceasing prayers with unlimited love. After all, Jesus is the One who tells us to keep praying!
Keep barking, little dog.
Keep praying, dear friends.
Image Credit: Clipart image from easyfreeclipart.com