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. In addition to these things, people are trying to maintain hope in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 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 and never lose heart, no matter how long it takes. 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 KJV
The Parable of the Persistent Widow is an illustration of why we should pray and never lose heart. It. compares prayer sharply with fainting. If we do not pray, we will faint; it’s that simple. The word faint describes a discouraged believer. When discouragement sets in, quitting is then 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 today’s Christians. It explains why we should relentlessly pray 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?
Pray and Never Give Up
The Scriptures say that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV). 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 KJV. 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 KJV). 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. PRAY AND NEVER GIVE UP! 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.
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 KJV
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 KJV
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:
“It was by faith that Abel obeyed God and brought an offering that pleased God more than Cain’s offering did. God accepted Abel and proved it by accepting his gift; and though Abel is long dead, we can still learn lessons from him about trusting God” (Hebrews 11:4 TLB).
“Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because Enoch trusted God too, and that is why God took him away to heaven without dying;” (Hebrews 11:5 TLB).
“Noah was another who trusted God. When he heard God’s warning about the future, Noah believed him even though there was then no sign of a flood, and wasting no time, he built the ark and saved his family. Noah’s belief in God was in direct contrast to the sin and disbelief of the rest of the world—which refused to obey—and because of his faith, he became one of those whom God has accepted” (Hebrews 11:7 TLB)
“Abraham trusted God, and when God told him to leave home and go far away to another land that he promised to give him, Abraham obeyed. Away he went, not even knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8 TLB).
“While God was testing him, Abraham still trusted in God and his promises, and so he offered up his son Isaac and was ready to slay him on the altar of sacrifice” (Hebrews 11:17 TLB).
Recognize the Faithfulness of God
“Sarah, too, had faith, and because of this, she was able to become a mother despite her old age, for she realized that God, who gave her his promise, would certainly do what he said” (Hebrews 11:11 TLB).
Do Not Faint: Hold Fast to Hope
“These men of faith I have mentioned died without ever receiving all that God had promised them; but they saw it all awaiting them on ahead and were glad, for they agreed that this earth was not their real home but that they were just strangers visiting down here” (Hebrews 11:13 TLB).
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had trials 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” (Hebrews 11:35-39 KJV).
Examine Your Faith
The recipients of faith in Hebrews chapter 11 have one thing in common: they believed in 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 KJV
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?