June 19, 2014.
“He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
There are a couple of parables in the gospels in which something stands out to me. Persistence. Is there something to say about persistence in prayer? It would certainly seem that Jesus thinks so. In the story above, Jesus tells of an non-god-fearing judge to whom a widow pleads her case. He tells her no for what ever reason, but because of her persistence in asking, he grants her request. He does it literally so she will quit bothering him. Now, I don’t think Christ’s point was that we bother God when we ask him for things, but I do think there is a valid point being made here. If this unrighteous judge will grant a widows request just because she keeps asking him, how much more will our Father, who loves us, give us the things we need and desire, within his will? Or maybe even when it is not exactly what he wills at the time (don’t stone me yet, I’ll explain).
There is a story that I believe exemplifies this very concept in the Old Testament. In the days before the children of Israel had a king, they were ruled by judges with their head as God (in theory). Israel eventually got tired of this organization and wanted a king just like the nations around them. However, God was supposed to be their king. The people came to Samuel and asked for a king. God was displeased with this, but he granted their wish anyway, warning them of the consequences that would come with their decision. Listen to an excerpt:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:4-9)
Indeed, the king would be a curse to Israel, though he didn’t have to be. Eventually it worked out, but it took some time and really wasn’t resolved until our Messiah came to take his rightful place as King forever. But this is a good example of God giving his people something that wasn’t his will at the time (I guess you could argue it was his will because he allowed it to happen and told Samuel to set up a king, but it was not his ideal). Will God do the same for us today?
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do believe it is possible. And if it is possible, the cliche saying “be careful what you ask for” could really take on new meaning. I think we may be well advised to pray as Christ did, with “thy will be done.” There is something to be said about our willingness to submit to his will.
There is another story in the gospels that may even outline this concept better about a friend asking for some bread. It is in the suggested reading and I will let you explore that for yourself. May we do all for His glory.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Samuel 8, Luke 11-12, 18.
Grace and peace.