Pray Always

praying hands over a holy bible


In this gospel, every character mentioned is seeking justice. Justice as jurisprudence seeks to uphold the rights of all, to balance out differences, to apply uniformly principles of behavior and treatment. In our nation’s justice system, the widow of the gospel would probably be held in contempt of court for pestering the judge. The judge would probably be tried for corruption because of his dishonest ways of dealing with people. The widow seeks justice out of need; the judge renders justice out of exasperation. The widow’s persistence finally breaks down the judge. She has her day in court. She wins. And that seems to be the end of the story.
 
We do not know what happens to the widow after she wins her case. But this is not the end of the gospel story. If, as humans, we seek to balance fairness, then how much more might we expect from God! God bestows justice out of love for God’s “chosen ones / who call out to him day and night.” The widow had a legal relationship with the judge that ended the moment he rendered a decision. Our persistence in prayer brings far more than some transitory alleviation of a wrong. We have a personal relationship with God that continually deepens as we “pray always.” God renders divine justice—divine-human relationship—out of the nature of who God is.
 
God faithfully hears and answers our prayer, “securing the rights of his chosen ones.” What are these rights? To be heard by God. To be answered by God. To be loved by God into the fullness of divine-human relationship. Persistence in prayer is such a small price to pay for the most Life-giving relationship we can have!
 
For many setting aside any definite time for prayer during the day may seem all but impossible, especially if we are talking about ten or fifteen uninterrupted minutes. Persistence in praying always might need to take the form in our lives of developing the habit of being aware of God’s abiding Presence and blessings even in our busyness. It might mean that we learn to catch little moments for prayer (like we sometimes are able to catch moments for catnaps)—while driving to pick up the youngsters or waiting in a checkout line.
 
The place and manner of prayer aren’t nearly so important as the fact that we pray—always and without ceasing. This prayer sustains our relationship with a God who loves beyond measure.
 
 

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Cycle C


The Persistant Widow

How often my nephew badgered his parents when he saw a toy advertised on TV! By his persistence, I suspect he hoped to change his parents’ minds about what was good for him. The same is often true about our prayer. We pray to change God’s will, that is, we pray for what we think we need or want and hope we can convince God to give it to us.

In the Gospel, Jesus does encourage persistence in prayer. True persistence is not badgering God for what we want. True persistence in prayer wells up from a deep faith and brings out the hope that leads us to the longer view and broader vision of Jesus. Our persistence in prayer brings us to new eternal life.

Persistence in prayer is not nagging God for what we want. Prayer informed by deep faith is openness to what God wants for us, which always leads to a greater good than we can know or imagine.