Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
1Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ” 6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
A great prayer warrior is Tevye from The Fiddler on The Roof. A good Jewish man trying to make ends meet, raise a family and be faithful to God. In one scene, we hear Tevye talking to God as he pulls a cart behind himself: "Today I am a horse. Dear God did you have to make my poor old horse loose his shoe just before the Sabbath. That wasn't nice. It's enough you pick on me, Tevye, bless me with five daughters, a life of poverty. What have you got against my horse? Sometimes I think when things are too quiet up there, You say to Yourself: 'Let's see, what kind of mischief can I play on my friend Tevye'.
Tevye continues: "As the Good book says, Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed. In other words, send us the cure, we've got the sickness already. I'm not really complaining--after all, with your help, I'm starving to death. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor, but it's no great honor either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"
Can you sense the comfort, the ease Tevye had in talking with God. Maybe his theology wasn't the best blaming God for all of his troubles, but his expression, his right to express these kinds of feelings to God is what prayer is all about.
Prayer is asking, prayer is wondering, prayer is bringing to God all of the feelings from the depths of our souls, so that we might lay them before his throne. So that we might cry out from the very inner longings of our soul all the concerns, all the problems, all the things that make us who we are, and what we are.
Life can be tough; So pray! That is the message Jesus shares today.
He presents us with two people. One is a judge whom, Jesus says, "neither feared God nor respected people." Obviously, Jesus is reminding them of the Roman or Herodian judges the people of his time hated so much, because they were notorious. You couldn't even get a hearing before them, unless you bribed them, and their decisions were based more on who was filling their pockets, than on any concept of justice and rightness.
The other figure is a widow - the symbol of all who are poor and defenseless. God says, in the Old Testament, that he is the avenger of the oppressed and the protector of widows. But before this earthly judge, she has no hope - she is without funds, without influence and without rights. She is the figure of every person who comes up against a faceless, intractable bureaucracy. She has only one weapon - persistence. And she uses that tool so effectively that finally the judge says, literally, "I shall avenge her, or she will give me a black eye."
Now, the point isn't that God grants justice only because we force it out of him – or that God is reluctant to hear or respond to us. But if a widow, through her persistence, can get a just decision even from an unrighteous judge, how much more can we expect from a God who is the avenger of widows - who is on our side?
Remember, God loves you!
Let us pray: We sometimes pester and complain over and over again. Forgive us Lord, and hear our prayer. Reassure us of your presence and tune our ears to your response. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen