"Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." — Luke 18:1
The widow in this parable has been called many things: troublesome, annoying, irritating, irksome, pesky. Yet Jesus applauds her for being persistent. Her relentless pursuit of justice eventually convinces the judge to help her, even though he doesn't really care about her.
Of course, Jesus isn't suggesting that God is like the judge in this story, or that we will have to be irritating to get God's attention. In fact, as Jesus points out, God is the opposite of the uncaring, unfair judge.
Persistence in prayer, though, raises an important question about prayer itself. God reigns over the cosmos and pays attention to every detail, including even the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). So why would we need to pray at all? God knows all our needs, and his purposes and plans are set. Can we really, then, change God's mind for a different outcome?
There is no easy answer to this question, but we can affirm several things the Bible teaches. Yes, God reigns, and we can take great comfort in that. What's more, God can use our prayers as a means to his ends. As James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
Our prayers bring us into fellowship with God and align us with his will, and they play a role in bringing God's righteous and just kingdom on earth. So let's be persistent in prayer, trusting and believing that God hears and answers.
Father, help us to pray and to keep praying for your kingdom to come, trusting you in all things. Amen.