In Luke 18:1-8 the story begins with a widow who had an adversary who was trying to take advantage of her. It’s likely someone was trying to cheat her out of money or land her husband left her. This was prevalent in Bible times, because women had few legal rights. In the wonderful Old Testament story of Ruth, she and Naomi returned to Bethlehem as widows. They had no legal right to claim the land had belonged to their husbands. Fortunately Boaz married Ruth and he became her kinsman/redeemer.
In Jesus’ parable this widow not only had the hurdle of being a female, she faced a terrible judge. He didn’t have any fear of God, nor did he care what other people thought about him. He was probably a Gentile judge designated by the Roman authorities. Judgeships were sold and bought, and a judge could make a good living from the bribes that were common. Our widow had no money to bribe this wicked judge, so her only recourse was to come before him repeatedly crying, “Grant me justice against my adversary! Grant me justice against my adversary!” He dismissed her claim, but she kept coming back, constantly begging him for justice. He must have thought, “Oh, no, not HER again!” In verse 5, he admits she bothered him. The word translated “bothering” literally means to “poke in the eye.” Imagine he was saying, “it’s like she keeps coming and poking me in the eye” He was upset because she was constantly in his face. This constant begging and nagging finally paid off–he ruled in her favour.
Our praying should be like the story of Jacob wrestling the angel in Genesis 32. They wrestled all night and toward morning, Jacob had the angel in a full Nelson grip. The angel said, “Jacob, let me go.” Now, I think it was like WWF, it was a fixed fight. The mighty angel could have tossed Jacob off in a heartbeat, but God was teaching Jacob (and us) a valuable lesson about the power of persistent, tenacious praying.
Imagine Jacob hanging onto that angel. He said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” So the angel said, “Okay, your name has been Jacob (which means “grabber”). From now on you will be named Israel (which means prince of God). What a great prayer lesson! Have you ever grabbed onto God in prayer and begged Him saying, “I’m not going to quit praying until you answer me?”
There are at least three important prayer principles Jesus taught in the parable and over the next three days we will consider these in a little more detail:
- DON’T WORRY!
- DON’T QUIT–PRAY PERSISTENTLY!
- DON’T DOUBT–PRAY POSITIVELY!