Persistent prayer proves hard for many Christians. We may labor on our knees for years as we pray for our unbelieving child, an empty womb, our spouse to be converted, the friend battling cancer, depression to no longer have a hold, a sin to lose its grip, or the gift of just one good friend. We pray and continue to pray, ever fighting the temptation to give up. The temptation comes because nothing seems to happen. If we are honest, many times we wonder if our Father in heaven cares. We bow our head, utter our prayer, plead with the Father, and it seems to rise no higher than the ceiling. How desperate such times can seem and how distant our Heavenly Father appears to be.
Christ, the Good Shepherd, knows His sheep and this struggle. Luke tells us in chapter eighteen verse one that Jesus “told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Jesus lends His agreement to Luke’s interpretation as he concludes the parable of the unrighteous judge by saying, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” Be relentless, Jesus is saying. Keep praying. Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. If an unrighteous judge will respond to the pleadings of a widow and grant justice, how much more our Heavenly Father?
Jesus is comparing the unrighteous judge to God the Father. But more than a comparison, it is a contrast. A popular method of argument in Jewish tradition was an argument from the lesser to the greater. Jesus is in effect asking, “If someone so unrighteous and uncaring will grant justice after persistent pleading, if someone so low and so vile would respond, how much more God your Father?”