1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
While everyone else in the class seemed to focus on the need to be persistent in asking, John looked at something out: persistent faith.
I asked him if I could share it here, and he kindly said yes.
"When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
by John Perron
So, here it is. Not quite the way I said it last night as I was letting the Holy Spirit bring out what God wanted said and I took no notes as it happened.
First, the judge in the parable was interested only in himself. He only answered the widow's petition because her persistent requests for a decision were aggravating to him. He agreed to deliver a decision for two reason: 1. to shut her up, and 2. to secure his own physical safety "...lest she finally come and strike me."
Second, Jesus made it clear that God is not like the judge and doesn't answer prayer to shut us up. God does not find our prayers aggravating. Instead, Jesus suggests that God will answer our prayers quickly and, to those of us who are persistent in prayer "...who call out to him day and night", as the widow was persistent, God will answer even more quickly; as if that is even possible. Faith and prayer are two sides of the same coin. If you have faith, you go to God in prayer; when we pray, our faith increases, and so on, and so on.
But the bottom line is that Jesus, in all his parables, challenges us. In the final verse of this particular story, Jesus asks, "But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith?" The challenge is for each of us, individually, to question the state of our faith; is it living or dead? Will Jesus find, in each of us individually, someone who, when prayers "were not answered" chose to lose heart, patience and faith and simply give up on prayer; letting our faith begin to die? Will he find someone who, regardless of God's answer to prayer, remained in persistent prayer to God and trusted in God completely; no matter what?
Something I meant to share last night and left out: St Monica prayed for her son, persistently, for close to 30 years. Praying that he would repent and come to faith in the church. Had she not done so, the church would have never had one of its greatest theologians; Bishop St. Augustine of Hippo.