What if you ask God for help, but no answer comes immediately? If you begin to get discouraged, wondering whether or not your prayers will be heard, there is a parable that can give you immense comfort. Luke 18 records the story of the widow and the judge. “And he [Christ] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (verse 1). This sets the stage for the ensuing parable.
The following verses tell the story of a worldly, unjust judge who was hounded by a widow. This widow had a grievance to bring to the judge, but he refused to act on her cries. But the widow didn’t give up. She kept going to the judge again and again. Look at the final result. “And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (verses 4-5).
The judge acted! But it wasn’t an act of love—it was selfish. This widow was wearing him down! Rather than having to put up with the persistent woman, the judge said, Enough! Fine! I’ll listen! Certainly, God is not like this judge, but Christ gave us this parable for a reason.
“And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily …” (verses 6-8). Christ tells us to look at what the unjust judge did. He was a man who didn’t really care about the widow, but even he acted on her cries eventually. Then Christ tells us to consider our Father in Heaven. Look at the difference!
Our Father loves us more than we can comprehend (John 3:16). How different He is to the unjust judge! If a self-centered judge was willing to hear the unrelenting cries of a widow, how much more willing is God to hear our continual prayers to Him? God must be on the edge of His throne just waiting to hear from us. He desires an intimate relationship with each and every one of His children. It fills Him with joy—not anger or annoyance like the unjust judge—when we take our problems to Him.
God wants to answer our prayers. He desires us to overcome every trial we face by taking the problem to Him and allowing Him to overcome it! We have already seen how God promises to help us overcome if we seek Him with our whole heart. Here we see that God has an intense desire to hear our prayers, and He is ready and waiting to answer!
Ask yourself, what is the common factor that binds a widow, a judge, a high priest and you? The answer is habitual prayer. That is, to be constantly and insistently going to your Father and Jesus Christ in fervent and effectual prayer.
Making prayer a habit is a godly trait that brings incredible blessings on those who practice it. Let’s take a look at the promises God makes to those who practice this crucial element of Christian living.
With All Your Heart
How habitual are we with our prayers? Are we praying three times a day as men like King David and Daniel the Prophet did? (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). Perhaps we do pray three times a day, but we find ourselves constantly in a hurry before we dash off to work, or drowsy before bed. If we are to make a habit of praying to God, we must make sure that it is effectual prayer, not a moment here or there, or simply a monotonous routine.
Once we are praying to God with godly, effectual prayer, then we can begin to expect miracles. Read carefully this incredible promise of God. “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
In these verses God promises that we will find Him when we pray to Him with all our hearts. But notice the stipulations. We cannot expect God simply to come to us. We must be seeking Him, and praying to Him. In verse 13, God says He expects us to search with all our hearts.
What constitutes searching with all your heart? Do you think that a quick 15 minutes here or there will really help you establish a deep relationship with God? Of course not! If you are pursuing something with your whole heart, it is driving your very existence! If we are seeking God with all our hearts, we will be searching Him out in prayer constantly—as a habit!
Then, and only then, God promises that He will hear our prayers! The God who rules over the universe will hear your voice! What an incredible promise that we can take advantage of if we only obey this command and make prayer a habit in our lives!
Does habitual prayer take the prime place in our lives? Do we see it as the effective life-altering tool that it really is? In the June 1998 Royal Vision, Gerald Flurry wrote: “Our primary focus in life must be on how we talk to God in prayer! That is our number one priority. That is how we grow in God’s royal Family.”
Can we say that prayer is our number one focus? Daily contact with God can always be enhanced and refined. We can always put a greater emphasis on our time spent with God in close communication. It can be so easy to let our lives be filled with distractions. Day-to-day life and the trials we face can all take away from time that should be spent in communication with our Father.
One way that we can show our focus is by putting prayer first on our priority list. Look at the examples of Christ and King David in Mark 1:35 and Psalm 5:3. These men woke up early, before the sun rose, praying to God. They set excellent examples of how we should conduct our prayer lives. If prayer is to be our number one focus, we should be giving God the best of our day. Get up early, when there are fewer distractions, and get in that vital daily contact with God.
Who Will Overcome for You?
While you go about your daily routine, you will always face struggles and trials. If you want to be armed and ready to face these problems, you are going to need help. After all, with our own will we can do nothing (Romans 7:14-25).
Joel Hilliker expounded on the solutions to our problems in a July-August 2007 Royal Vision article titled “Break Through to God”: “If you feel overwhelmed, confused, burned out, depressed or unequipped to manage life’s challenges, strengthening your prayers is your solution.” If you are facing those insurmountable obstacles, then pray about it. If it remains a problem, then pray about it again! Keep taking your issues to God. Alone, we can do nothing. But with God, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26).
As you go through these fiery trials, remember that you are not alone. Hebrews 4:15 says we have Jesus Christ working as our High Priest. He has been tempted in all areas, and yet without sin. Christ overcame every obstacle that was thrown against Him. And now, with all His accumulated experience and knowledge of just how it is to be human, He pleads our case before God. Picture that. When you take these prayers to God, Christ discusses your requests and pleas with His Father, the Eternal God! Realizing where your prayers go and what happens in heaven should inspire you to pray all the more earnestly, and all the more frequently!
The Widow, the Judge, the High Priest and …
There is just one element that still must be covered. We have seen the parable of the widow and the judge. We know we have a High Priest taking our prayers to God, and we know God desires to answer those prayers. That means the last element is you.
You are the only thing standing in the way of habitual contact with God. Habitual prayer will bring wonderful blessings in your life. God and Christ are doing all they can to help. Now you must take action. As Mr. Hilliker said, prayer is the solution—the antidote—to your problems. But like all antidotes, you must be the one to drink it.
So take the necessary steps. Work to build the effectual and fervent prayer life God wants, and strive to maintain a healthy prayer life. Remember where your prayers are going and who you are talking to—your communication is with God and Christ! Work hard at it. Strive to grow spiritually, as you develop the habit of strong, effectual prayer.