In the midst of Jesus’ teaching concerning the difficult times the believer will face between Jesus’ first coming and second coming, a parable is given and explained to help encourage the disciples in the discipline of prayer. The parable is not presented in an exact image for image illustration but in rabbinic style of a qal wahomer argument or as a “lesser to greater” illustration. Parables that implement the “lesser to greater” style are used to help us come to the conclusion that if this principle is true in a lesser state, how much more true it is in a greater state.
Jesus wants to drive home the point that believers need to pray for what is right and never give up praying. In other words, one of the basic keys to successful prayer is persistence. Persistent prayer that is powerful and effective is far from meaningless, rote recital of words and formulas. Persistent prayer is repeated, consistent and committed. Jesus' promise is that our persistent prayers will be answered by our Father God, who is good!
In the parable that Jesus uses there is a powerful judge who did not care about people or their needs. The most powerless and vulnerable member in Jewish society in Jesus day was the widow. A widow had no education, no inheritance, no job, and no privileges. She was dependent on a merciful society to assist her in life. Jesus says this powerless widow goes to the powerful judge for assistance in a legal matter. But, of course, the widow has nothing to offer the judge in the form of payment or as a source of motivation to help her, so she is ignored.
But, the one thing the widow did have was time and she was persistent in approaching the judge. She constantly called his office. His email box repeatedly received “new mail” alerts from her. She would leave messages on sticky notes with the receptionist at the law office. Her persistence was so intense that the unjust judge came to the conclusion that life would be simpler and resources would be best used if his office would simply handle her case and end the barrage of phone calls, emails and sticky notes.
Jesus then asks you to compare the lesser, unjust judge with the greater, merciful, just judge:
“Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice quickly.” – Luke 18:6-8
The problem with our prayer life in this illustration is that we give up, we lose interest, we get distracted and our faith in the truth, mercy and justice of God fails. Instead, Jesus says stay in the Truth, pray and never, ever give up!