This week I am preaching on the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-11.
It has been a though-provoking and meaningful sermon preparation process.
The parable greatly praises faithful persistence in prayer. In the parable is a call for us to be faithful and persistent in our practice of justice, but also in our prayer and petitions to our God for injustice. In V1 of the passage it says that Jesus told the passage to the disciples in order that they might know that they must always pray and not give up.
I have been deeply considering whether the practice of praying persistently (persistence that is measured in decades at the least) alive and well in the faith of my generation? In my own life, I have been a vocal critic of the praying pratices of the churches I have been involved in. In my previous churh of service our prayer list never changed. Pray for the sick. Pray for our community. Pray for the unsaved. Pray for the war. Pray for the soldiers. It drove me nuts that the list never changed or expanded. Why not shake things up? Why not rotate some of the other concerns of the world in there and get a rotation going? Prayers that stayed the same for too long seemed stale and lifeless.
Maybe there was more to it than I gave it credit for.
I came across this quote in my sermon research. (my resource is not in front of me, so I can’t remember who its from, I will edit this later and include the reference. Truett professors forgive me this plagarism.)
“Until you have stood for years knocking at a locked door, your knuckles bleeding, ou do not know what prayer is.”
How many people of faith would stand at that locked door for more than a few knocks without moving on. It has become very real to me this week the type of persistent prayers that it takes to overcome injustice in our world.
I look at my own life and I don’t see any bloodied knuckles. I look around at my generation and the generation around me and I’m not sure what I see as regards our faithfulness in prayer. I see frustration at that which has not been answered. I see anger at injustice that persists. Yet, I fear that our prayers all to often do not.
I see this persistence in prayer in my grandmothers. I see it in the grandmothers and great-grandmothers in my church.
My prayer in this post is for me and those who look at their prayer life and don’t find their knuckles bloody. May we discover the faithful prayer life of our grandmothers. The persistence of prayers that continue in spite of our frustration, anger, and disappointment. The prayers not of temporary passions, but of deep conviction of truth and intolerance of injustice.
May we find our knuckles bloody when the door is opened.