Last week we looked at the parable woman who lost a coin. Today we continue our study of parable women with the Persistent Widow.

Backstory

We meet the Persistent Widow in Luke 18. Prior to this in Luke 17: 20-37 Jesus was preparing His disciples for the coming of the kingdom. He explained about the suffering that was to take place and how everyone would be going about their business, oblivious to what was about to happen, just as they were during Noah’s time and Lot’s time. 

Then He led into the parable of the Persistent Widow, but He prefaced it with a note that we should pray continually and not lose heart. 

Her Story

In a certain city lived an unjust judge who feared not God nor man. In that same city was a widow who had experienced mistreatment from an adversary. She went to the judge asking for justice. He ignored her pleas at first, but when she persisted, he finally gave in. 

He said that though he didn’t care about God or man, he would give in to her just because she wouldn’t stop asking, and it wearied him.

After telling the story, Jesus explained that just as the unjust judge gave in because of the woman’s tenacity, so God wants us to persevere in our prayers, even when it seems God is not answering us. He closes with, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

The Rest of the Story

Generally, when Jesus told parables, He let them stand on their own. He didn’t try to explain them, knowing some would understand but many wouldn’t. 

In this case, however, He was specifically talking to His disciples, and He wanted to make sure they got what He was saying. So He prefaced the story and added a conclusion. 

Right before this story, Jesus was preparing His disciples for what was to come. But, of course, they really couldn’t understand. None of it made sense to them, and He knew that. He knew they would get discouraged and lose heart. He knew they would feel alone and rejected. He knew they would need encouragement to not give up. So He gave them this parable. 

Jesus wanted His disciples to know how very important it was going to be for them to keep praying through all that would happen in the days ahead. 

It’s interesting that He uses an example of a corrupt judge. How the disciples must have wondered about that. How could He compare Himself to someone like that? But it got their attention. 

Some things get lost in translation, and verse 5 is one of those examples. The verse says that the judge gave into her demands lest her continual coming weary him or exhaust him. The NIV version gets it a little more exact. It says so she won’t attack him. The word used for weary comes from fights in the arena. It literally means a hit to the face so hard that it would leave a bruise. This would be a knock-down blow. 

That word picture was probably amusing to the disciples, picturing this widow woman physically attacking the judge. But that’s how insistent she was.

Jesus wanted His disciples to know how very important it was for them to persist in prayer no matter how discouraged they might get. Though it would seem as if they were getting no response from the Lord, keep praying because just as the judge eventually answered her request, so will the Lord.

This concept can be confusing. Was He saying that if we pray hard and long enough that we will change God’s mind? No. We don’t control God. But He loves us and He wants what is best for us. When we have needs, He wants us to take them to Him. And He will answer them. He will give us what it is we need, but it may not happen the way we expect, and it most likely won’t occur in the time that we expect. God’s timing is not the same as ours. He knows the exact moment to make it all work out in the best possible way.

Your Story

This is a story we can all relate to. We have all had issues that we’ve brought to God, and at first it seemed He wasn’t listening. We may even decide He doesn’t care. 

How often do we pray once and then forget about it? If something is important to us, we need to pray not just once or twice but over and over again.

This story reminds us to keep going back to Him, to keep presenting our pleas as long as it takes until we hear from Him. 

Whatever it is that you’re dealing with, please don’t get discouraged and give up. Don’t mistakenly think that He’s not listening. He hears each and every prayer, but He alone knows the appropriate time to answer. He alone knows the best answer to your prayer. He alone can answer your prayers in ways you can only imagine! 

Prayer

Lord God, thank You for Your Love. Thank You for hearing every prayer, every cry, every plead. Thank You for waiting until just the right moment to answer our prayers. Thank You for always wanting what is best for us. Forgive us those times we grow impatient. Give us strength when we grow weary in waiting. We love You so very much. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Tune in next week when we look at Salome, a woman who wanted the best for her sons.

The Persistent Widow, a parable about prayer

Bible Study

Scripture Background

Backstory: Luke 17:20-37
Her Story: Luke 18:1-8

Bible Study Review

  1. What kind of man was the judge?
  2. Why was the woman contacting the judge?
  3. Why did he give in to her request?

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. Who was Jesus’ audience for this parable?
  2. Why did He explain this one to them?
  3. What is meant by “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

Personal Reflection

  1. Do you pray continually?
  2. Do you pray once and then forget about it?
  3. Do you pray expecting an answer?

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The persistent widow: a parable about prayer
the persistent widow: a podcast Bible study about prayer
The persistent widow: a podcast Bible study about prayer

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