We should always pray and never lose heart. However, in today’s world, we face many challenges, making it difficult to sustain a meaningful prayer life without losing heart. Hate, injustice, insecurity, and fear are but a few of the many challenges that confront us all the time. Being surrounded by so many negative hurdles, one cannot help but wonder, will there be faith on the earth when Jesus returns? More than two thousand years ago, Jesus told His disciples a story of a persistent widow to teach them about prayer and how they should pray for as long as it takes and never lose heart. I believe the parable contains a twofold message for believers today:
- God is faithful
- Examine your faith in God
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward, he said within himself, ‘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.’
“Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. 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 18:2-8
The Parable of the Persistent Widow compares prayer sharply with fainting. If we do not pray, we will faint; it’s that simple. The word faint describes a believer who loses heart and gets so discouraged that quitting becomes a real possibility. When I had a heart attack, I recall fainting physically. It is by far the most helpless feeling that I have ever experienced. While I felt myself losing consciousness, there was nothing I could do about it.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow is also an illustration for Jesus’ disciples and today’s Christians that we should pray relentlessly and never lose heart! The point is this: If an unjust judge would give justice, how much more would God, being the Just Judge, deliver justice to His people, who implore Him through prayer day and night?
Never Tire of Praying
The Scriptures say that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But what does it mean to pray without ceasing? Does it mean we should pray repetitious prayers? Jesus warned against praying like that in Matthew 6:5-15. Rather, it means that prayer should be as natural as breathing. Unless we are sick or suffocating, we never think about breathing. Likewise, prayer for the believer should be without effort, just like breathing.
What an interesting question our Lord asks His disciples. “When Christ returns for His people, will He really find faith on the earth?” As Christians, we profess to have faith in God and the finished work of Christ at the cross, while in many cases, God is the very last person we turn to for help. For example, the Bible says Christ was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). But when sickness attacks, we run to the doctor and forget the healing provided by the cross. It is unambiguous in Scripture that God wants us to depend solely on Him for all of our provision, including healing.
The meaning of the Parable of the Persistent Widow is evident. Therefore, we should never cease praying until we receive a full answer to our prayers. The more we believe the words of God, the more we will pray. If we are not persistent in seeking an answer from God, we will faint and cease to pray.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is communication between you and God. Prayer is not just talking to God. It is a two-way conversation. When we pray, we should not only talk to God but listen to Him as well. When we receive Christ, we become “children of God.” Children have the pleasure of talking to their father about anything at any time.
In several Scriptures, God encourages us to pray, and He promises to answer our prayers. In Matthew, He says:
“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.”Matthew 7:7-8
And again, He says in Isaiah:
“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”Isaiah 65:24
When Christ Returns Will He Find Faith?
The last sentence of the Parable of the Persistent Widow invokes the question that we should each ask ourselves: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” The Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). However, we must be cognizant of the fact that our faith can fail. So, what kind of faith pleases God? Hebrews chapter 11 illustrates the kind of faith that pleases God. Here are a few instances of the kind of faith that pleases God:
“By faith, Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts, and through it, he being dead still speaks” (v. 4).
“Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (v. 5).
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen moved with godly fear prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (v. 7).
“Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (v. 8).
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son” (v. 17).
Recognize the Faithfulness of God
We must be cognizant of the faithfulness of God. “By faith, Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age because she judged Him faithful who had promised (v. 11).
Hold Fast to Hope
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (v. 13).
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword… wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise” (vv. 35-39).
Examine Your Faith
The recipients of faith in Hebrews chapter 11 have one thing in common: they believed God and responded to their faith with obedience. Obedience is an important ingredient in the recipe for faith.
If you were to do an accurate assessment of your faith, based on the Bible’s description of faith, you would have to agree that you have not displayed the kind of faith that any of the Patriarchs of Hebrews chapter 11 displayed.
“And he said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”Matthew 25:23
Like any Christian and servant of Christ, I would like to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant” when I see Jesus face to face, for we shall all see Him. But when I honestly examine my faith in God, I would indeed be guilty of not having the kind of faith that pleases God. Now ask yourself, will Jesus find faith in you when He returns?