Why “Men Always Ought To Pray”
1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
As this parable is introduced, we are specifically told the point: “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” When I look at that phrase I see a choice – either pray or lose heart. If I pray as Jesus taught I should, in His name and with an obedient faith that guides my life daily, I will not lose heart! To express the other end of this, if I lose heart I must not be praying in the manner taught by Christ. Which will it be? Will you pray or lose heart? In the story, Jesus gives a reason why we should always pray.
His story involves three parties: a judge, a widow and an adversary . There was this judge who “did not fear God nor regard man.” We know there were such men in Palestine then, and we believe there are such men in positions of judicial authority today. They have the position, but they do not have the godly character, compassion and sense of justice that should qualify a man to be a judge. Jesus says that this man “did not fear God nor regard man.”
The widow came to the judge to plea for relief from her adversary. The Lord said that “for a while” the judge would not respond; he would not do anything. Then the judge thought, “this widow really annoys me. Although I don’t fear God or respect people, I’ll have to give her justice. Otherwise, she’ll keep coming to me until she wears me out.”
Jesus calls attention to what the unjust judge said. Then He 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?”
Some who have read this parable get stuck on a supposed comparison between the evil judge and God. Jesus does not say that God is like the unjust judge. The point is, if an evil judge will eventually give relief to those who appeal to him, how much more will God (who is perfectly just) give relief to His own elect! This is like the teaching of Christ earlier (in Luke 11:1-13, note the expression “how much more”). God’s people should always pray and not “give up” or “lose heart” because we are appealing to a perfectly just and righteous Judge. One way faith expresses itself is in the persistent, fervent practice of prayer.
Prayer should not be like a “fire extinguisher.” This equipment hangs on the wall and you may pay little attention to it until there is an emergency. Then you want it! Some treat prayer the same way. If there is no “emergency” in life, they don’t use it. But in time of crisis they want God to listen and respond at once! The teaching of Christ is exceedingly plain – we ought to pray regularly, “always,” knowing that God is perfectly just and will answer according to His wisdom.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 7.5; May 2000