Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "And the Lord said, "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? Luke 18:1-7
One question that we may ask ourselves is, “Why pray if God knows everything?" Or sometimes the question is, “Why bother?,” if after praying and praying and praying we see no results. This is the question that the disciples seemed to have asked Jesus in the above Scripture. And as usual, Jesus answers their question by telling a story. But what does the story about justice for the widow have to do with prayer?
Author Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest, wrote about this topic of prayer and relates a story about her granddaughter, Madeline. At Madeline’s seventh birthday party she was asked to blow out the candles and to make a wish before she blew them out. But Madeline didn’t want to make a wish. It seems that every wish she ever asked for over a birthday cake didn’t come true. So why bother?
Rev. Taylor considers how to explain to her granddaughter the difference between wishing and praying. Many times in our lives the line between wishing and praying is blurred and sometimes we use the terms interchangeably. And just like Madeline, we can adopt the stance, “Why bother?” if after praying and praying and praying, we see no results.
Taylor ponders how she would answer her granddaughter if she was asked “Why pray?” “Does prayer really work?” She writes, “Of course it does. It keeps our hearts chasing after God’s heart. It’s how we bother God, and how God bothers us back. There’s nothing that works any better than that. … What I want Madeline to know is that the best thing about prayer is the relationship itself.”
There is more to prayer than the answer to prayer. There is also the pray-er, the one who is shaped by the praying.
You may be in a dry spell in your prayer life now. You may have given up on prayer for any number of reasons. You may have never had a prayer life. Yet there is power in talking with God. For God listens to every prayer. He cares. He may not answer our prayers in the ways that we want, but He does answer our prayers in a way that we need. Don’t lose heart if it seems that nothing is happening. Keep praying. Prayer changes things. God is eager to do what is best for you.
Knowing that God desires to hear the prayers of our hearts, what would you pray for today? What do you want to tell God? What is the burning desire, the hope for your life, the ache that you feel, the situation you want to lift up to him? What or whom would you pray for today?