Life is filled with pain, problems, and pressures. Each of these drives us to God in prayer. Through prayer, we share our feelings with God and make requests of God. With faith, we continue to pray even though we do not see evidence that God hears our prayers at all. However, after much prayer over the course of a long period of time, we feel as if our prayers have gone unheard and unanswered. Eventually, we reach the point where we want to give up on prayer. We lose hope. We lose confidence. We lose faith. We ask ourselves, "Why Pray?" We wonder if we are wasting our time praying. We are ready to give up on prayer.
Jesus understands the season of discouragement we have with God and prayer. He understands as we battle with the pain, problems, and pressures of life we will lose hope and be tempted to give up on prayer...on God altogether. Because he understands, he told a story in Luke 18:1-8 to teach us to always pray and not give up.
This story is about a widow who was experiencing pain, problems, and pressures in her life. She had an adversary who was against her and repeatedly sought to cause great pain in her life. Her only recourse was to approach the town judge for justice...for help. However, when she came to see the judge, he refused to act on her behalf.
The judge is described by Jesus as one who had no respect for God and did not care for people. He was calloused toward God and to the needs of people. Yet, this widow was persistent. She did not give up making her plea before the judge. Daily, she went into town to speak with the judge. And even though he continued to not act on her behalf, she continued to ask for justice...for help. Eventually, the judged acted on her behalf before she wore him down completely with her daily plea.
Jesus draws a parallel between the widow's persistence in coming before an ungodly and unconcerned judge with her plea and our persistence in coming before our loving and caring God in prayer. Jesus says for all those who are of God's family, who cry out day and night as they face the pain, problems, and pressures of life, God will act on their behalf.
Furthermore, Jesus encourages us to have the same faith the widow demonstrated in her persistent plea to the judge. This kind of faith is the faith that continues to pray to God even though our prayers feel as if they are unheard and unanswered. It is the kind of faith that keeps praying through the pain, problems, and pressures of life, even though we do not understand why God has not responded. It is the kind of faith that continues to believe God loves, cares, and is for us even though he seems silent as we consistently seek him in prayer.
Jesus mentioned in this story about the widow having an adversary. An adversary is one who is against us and desires to see us struggle and eventually defeated. The Bible says we have an adversary - the devil - Satan himself. According to 1 Peter 5:8, he prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. The way we resist him, or stand up against this adversary, is by standing firm in the faith.
In addition to Satan wanting to destroy our lives, he wants to ruin our relationship with God. He wants us to give up on God. To lose hope in God. To give up on prayer. To turn our backs on God. One way he does this is by causing us to become so disappointed in God, because of seemingly unheard and unanswered prayers, that we grow distant from God. We stop praying. We stop trusting. We stop gathering with other Christians. We begin to lose faith in God.
We must remember as we seek God in prayer that Satan is opposed to our prayers. He fights against our prayers. According to Ephesians 6:10-12, we are in a spiritual warfare with Satan and his demons. They strategically plan for our personal destruction and the destruction of those we love. When we pray, we enter the arena of and are engaged in spiritual warfare against their plans. Through persistence prayer, we daily battle Satan and his demons as we go before God in prayer. That is why Ephesians 6:18 says keep on praying or always pray and never give up.
To teach us to always pray and not give up is the reason Jesus told the story of the widow who never gave up making her plea to the judge. We will be tempted to give up on prayer. To lose hope in God. To lose faith in God. But, by remembering we are in spiritual warfare against Satan and his demons who are our adversaries aimed at our destruction and the destruction of those we love, and by remembering through prayer we enter into and are engaged in this spiritual warfare, we will motivated to always pray and not give up.
Having us give up on prayer is part of Satan's strategy. Satan understands he is weakened and eventually defeated through prayer. Prayer is an act of faith. To defeat Satan, we are encouraged by Jesus and Peter to remain in faith. This means to keep believing that God loves and cares for you and your loved ones. To keep believing that God is good even in the bad times of life. To keep praying though the pain, problems, and pressures of life and for the people we love. By faith, we are fighting for them and ourselves in prayer. We can't give up.
In this life, we will face pain, problems, and pressures. Satan desires for us to give up on God and quit praying. He wants us to believe God is calloused and uncaring. It is at this time, we must remember we are in spiritual warfare and one of our greatest weapons is faith demonstrated in prayer. We must keep praying even though our prayers seem unheard and unanswered, knowing the requests of our prayers are being opposed by Satan. He is against our prayers being fulfilled. Our friends and family members need us to not stop praying for them. We need not to stop praying for ourselves, our struggles, and our dreams. We must learn the lesson from the story of the persistent widow told to us by Jesus, to always pray and not give up.
If you are about to give up on prayer, don't! It is not a waste of time; but a time of entering into and engaging in spiritual warfare. Therefore, keep praying. Keep praying when there is no answer. Keep praying when there is no solution. Keep praying when there is no provision. Keep praying when there is no change. Keep praying when things go bad and are not getting any better. Keep praying, knowing God loves and cares for you. Keep praying until Jesus returns (Luke 18:8).