Parents usually read well-known stories to their children. Occasionally, because of circumstances, parents will make up a story to illustrate a point. For example, once upon a time there was a little boy in Falfurrias who didn’t clean his room and put bubble gum in his sister’s hair.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He made up a story to illustrate the point He was trying to make. Perhaps Jesus noticed that His disciples were showing signs of disappointment when they prayed. In several passages we are told that Jesus “knew their thoughts…”. Even we can tell when they are sad, or when they are worried or they don’t feel well. Our faces betray our emotions. Indubitably the disciples were showing signs of disappointment in their prayer relationship with God. Haven’t we all been disappointed in prayer? Don’t we get tired of repeating prayers without seeing results? Prayer is not like pushing a button, pulling a plug or turning on a switch. Prayer is a relationship with the Person who loves us unconditionally. Our prayers do not add nor subtract anything from God. They help us to grow spiritually as persons. Therefore, prayer is always for our benefit. However, there are Biblical accounts which state that people have changed God’s mind through prayer. Yet, remember that the Bible is like looking in the mirror. We are looking at the evolution of human consciousness. In the Hebrew scriptures we see God getting angry, being vengeful, fighting in battle. Then came Jesus, who is the perfect revelation of who God is, because He is God, and He told us that God does not keep track of our sins. Jesus revealed that God is a Father because He takes care of us.
Maybe some folks would rather believe that God must be kept happy. They believe that the only way to heaven is to deny themselves every bodily pleasure. For countless people, God is someone to be feared, rather than someone to be loved. They prefer to keep God at a distance rather than to have an intimate relationship with Him. If that is where we are, then we haven’t heard the message of the Gospel—we haven’t believed in the words of Jesus. He said, “When you see me, you see the Father. The Father and I are One.” “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Therefore, we do not have to look for answers anywhere else. Our culture presents many alluring alternatives. Given all the distractions, we can easily get confused. Folks get swayed by “feel good” religions. Some convert to “store front” churches which demand that they stop drinking, smoking and contribute ten percent of their income. Discipline is often confused with conversion.
Embracing certain disciplines can be beneficial. However, an inward change can only happen with God’s grace. Who changed in the story about the judge and the widow? Who is the one who surrendered to a power greater than himself? If the judge feared neither God nor any human being, that means that he was a “bad posterior”. (Can’t say the real word because I’ll get in trouble). Everyone was afraid of him. He obviously had a bad reputation. One day he not only met his match, but someone more powerful than he—of all people—a widow who stood up to him. She intimidated him. Maybe she was bigger, or shouted, or knew something about the judge and used the information to her favor. The point of the story was her persistence. The widow did not give up. She wasn’t willing to take “no” for an answer. So many give up because they feel that God didn’t listen to their prayers. God always listens. Sometimes the answer is “no” or “not now”; but God always listens and answers our prayers. Our prayers are intimately connected to our faith. Faith is necessary if we want to walk with God. But the Lord is not like a genie in a lamp who grants our wishes. We do not always know what is best for us. We must trust.
Unlike the bad judge, God never gets angry with us or is out to punish us or will make us suffer. On the contrary, the Lord loves us. Our vocation is to pray and not get discouraged.