I was reminded recently of the years upon years I spent repeating the same prayer over and over and over again to God. For nearly a decade and a half I suited up, fell on my face before the Lord, and went to war for my husband and our marriage. Much like the persistent widow in Luke 18, it often felt as if it was all in vain – as if my prayers were bouncing off some invisible barrier between me and God and going unheard.
Fourteen years is a long time to keep trusting that the God who made the promise we’re going to study today is going to remain faithful and keep that promise! I wish I could tell you my faith never wavered, but I can’t. There were seasons of doubt. But the God who made the promise IS faithful, and He always pulled me through. Each time somehow showing me that He was still near, that He was still working, and that He was calling me to stay on my knees and keep fighting.
If you find yourself waging your own battles on bloodied, war-torn knees, this post is for you dear friend. May it remind you why we fight. Why we continue to fall on our faces before the Lord day in and day out. May it serve as a beacon of hope in our storms reminding us of the One to whom we pray!
Luke 18:1-8 – One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
The Promise of the Persistent Widow
We have to be careful with the promises of Scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us to Truth in understanding them. We have to be sure what we’re clinging to is the actual promise, and not our own ideas about what we want the promise to be.
The promise here in the parable of the persistent widow is:
God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to Him day and night. He will not keep putting them off. He will grant justice to them quickly.
To give justice is to impartially administer what is morally right and fair, and the Bible tells us God is passionate about it. He demands His own people act justly throughout Scripture, and we find injustice being at the root of His anger against the people of the world time and time again! WE CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON OUR GOD TO DO WHAT IS MORALLY RIGHT AND FAIR WITHOUT PARTIALITY, FOR HE IS JUST.
However, the details that unfold in what His justice looks like for me may be different than what they will look like for you, because the details of our stories are not the same. This is why independent study of the Word of God is so important. It is through this study that His Spirit will lead us to verses which communicate His specific will in our individual situations.
My (constant like the persistent widow) Prayer
As my prayer journey through this issue began, what I asked was simple, fairly uninformed, and pretty selfish. But as the years ticked by God led me deeper and deeper into His Word, and consequently, closer and closer to His own heart. I learned more and more about my God. I learned more and more about prayer. And with each lesson learned I edited and modified my prayer.
I found verses like these (among many others):
Romans 8:26 – And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Malachi 2: 14-16 – You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife?
In body and spirit you are His. And what does He want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
What began as a simple, “God, please make him stop looking at pornography, and help him to be faithful to me.” slowly grew and deepened into something more like this,
In case you missed it before, I did say that I prayed some form of this prayer for FOURTEEN years. We were two years into our marriage when I got my first glimpse into my love’s problem with pornography and lust. And we were about half-way through our sixteenth year when it all came to a head, and he finally hit rock bottom and surrendered to God.
It’s so easy to read other people’s stories and glaze over details like that. But y’all, fourteen years feels like a very long time for a prayer to go (seemingly) unanswered when you’re the one living out those years! Like the persistent widow, I had to be stubborn and willing to seem foolish in the asking.
But don’t forget, the promise plainly stated that God will give justice QUICKLY to the persistent prayer!
So, is God a liar? Surely not, though I will readily admit to you that there were plenty of times when I seriously began to believe maybe He was. My faith was not as strong as I would have liked. But the problem was not, in fact, with the promise, but rather with my perception of “quickly.”
2 Peter 3:9, 15 – The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promises, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved…
Romans 2:4 – Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sins?
No, my friends, God was not being slow about His promise at all. He is not like the evil judge in the parable of the persistent widow. Instead, He was being patient. He was giving my love (and frankly me too) the time he needed to come face to face with his idols, and to choose repentance.
The Answer to My Persistent Widow’s Prayer
And repent he did! After fourteen years of prayer, God DID somehow get ahold of my love’s heart. He took that stony stubborn heart once shackled by sin to a life of rebellion and crushed it to dust. And from those ashes He remade a soft and tender, responsive heart. Quick to obey Him.
But, oh my friends, He did not stop there! As I look back at that prayer I prayed over and over and over again, I see nothing but answers. Like the persistent widow, my relentlessness paid off!
He DID give me the strength and courage I needed to face the trials. And they were many! There are not a lot of marriages that survive what ours has, because people simply cannot endure it. Not on their own. But God DID give me His eyes for my husband. He chipped away at me, at my own idols, at my misconceptions, at my lack of faith, and in time He DID give me His heart for our marriage. He DID give me His wisdom, providing the answers I needed about what to do time and time and time again.
But the very best part of all came in an answer to that prayer I never ever saw coming. I HAD asked God to make a picture of our marriage that pointed people to Him. But not in a million years would I have guessed He would answer that prayer by taking our story to tens of thousands of people and using it to show them what He can do! Not once as I prayed did it cross my mind that He would use our story to bring hope to so many! Even now I marvel at His mighty works!
And so, I thank Him, for He did give me justice. Like the persistent widow, I have received what was right and fair. But even more, I praise Him that He did not stop at justice, but piled on by giving me grace upon grace as well. He showered upon me the richness of His love which I do not deserve, and has allowed me to be used to bring glory to His mighty name.
Who am I, oh Sovereign Lord, that You should choose me?
My friend, NEVER give up! Whatever you’re asking in prayer, check the Bible and find verses that assure you of your alignment with the will of God. Pray those verses back to Him, and BELIEVE that you have what you ask. Like the persistent widow, be steadfast and insistent in your prayers! When Jesus returns may He find an army of warriors, on our knees, filled to the brim with faith!