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An understanding about what the Bible says about the times when it feels like God isn’t answering our prayers is important. The parable of the unjust judge or persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 gives us insight into what our approach should be.
Jesus began the parable by describing a judge who lacked compassion and understanding when repeatedly approached by a woman seeking justice. He is described as a man “who neither feared God nor cared what people thought” (verse 2). We are not told why he ignored her repeated pleas. Maybe he was prioritizing those who had social standing, or who had money for bribes.
The widow does not give up and continues to approach him, seeking justice. Eventually the judge declares: “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (verse 4).
This parable reminds us of what our attitude and approach should be in those difficult times when it seems like God isn’t answering our prayers (Luke 18:1), and we can learn the following:
1. Persevere in prayer
God is not interested in prayers we repeat over and over again. He wants us to cry out to Him in faith with heartfelt sincere prayer because we trust Him to deliver us. Jesus concluded the parable by assuring His disciples: “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8)
When there are times when it seems like God isn’t answering our prayers there may be reasons. We can’t approach God with the attitude that He knows everything so why should we even ask Him. We ask Him because we are acknowledging our smallness and relating to His greatness.
2. Seek God’s will and have faith in His answers
It’s one thing to seek God’s help, but it’s another thing to seek God by relating to Him. God wants us to learn His ways and His purposes. In Psalm 27:7 when David was facing invasion and cried out to God, He also knew he had to learn God’s ways —- to seek His face, or in other words develop a relationship with Him.
It is not just about God relating to us, but also how much time, energy and effort we spend in trying to relate to God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus assures us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11). Asking, seeking, and knocking are all aspects as to how we relate to God.
3. Accept God sees a bigger picture.
God wants us to continually pray and not give up when it seems like He isn’t answering, and that we must ask, seek and knock in our approach to God, but why does God sometimes make us wait?
We have to realize that the transcendent God is outside of our restricted view of space and time. We see the part that we are involved in, but we can’t see the whole picture, and so sometimes the answer to our prayers is wait and sometimes it is no, but our loving God is always with us and aware of our well being and needs.
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