Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 18:1-8: Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 16, 2022

The Gospel of Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, `Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, `Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.'” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Let us Pray: Almighty God, the righteous call to You day and night, and You answer them speedily. Grant us faith to rest securely in Your mercy and justice as we await the coming of the Son of Man. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

We can be so impatient sometimes and feel that God has not heard our prayers when they are not answered immediately. We live in a world of instant gratification, instant contact, and with a touch of a button we can be anywhere in the world! But Jesus in today’s gospel, is asking us to be patient, ‘pray always and do not lose heart.’ Our prayers will be answered, maybe not in the way we are expecting, but answered in the way that is beneficial to us. And in a way that promotes God’s Kingdom.

In this parable the widow keeps coming back to the judge in her search for justice. She will never give up. She just keeps on asking for what she needs. In the end, the judge responds just to get rid of her. Obviously, God does not want to get rid of us, nor does God tire listening, to our prayers. This teaching on prayer is full of hope even in situations when God may delay the response to our petition. The parable truly offers hope to those among us who are perhaps reluctant to address God with our petitions. It is both an invitation and encouragement to pray without ceasing, confident of God’s desire to respond. When we, however, approach a loving Father, He is ready to listen to us and we are invited to come with calm assurance. Jesus tells us not to give up or lose heart. In prayer we fellowship with God, search our hearts, give thanks, worship God’s majesty, repent of our sins, and submit to God’s will. But a part of prayer is, of course, making requests of “God. Are prayers only words that fall back to earth unheard or do they rise on unseen winds to reach the heights of heaven? Your prayers are your heart, your words are your gift. Never doubt that someone is listening. Never doubt that you will be given an answer.”     (1)      

The question is a good one: Do we change God’s mind when we pray? One way to answer this question is by understanding his unchanging nature. Maybe prayer is like gazing at the stars. It is a good thing to do. It gives you perspective. But don’t believe that your star-gazing changes the stars in any way. Like gazing at the stars prayer changes us, not God.                                                                                                                                             

(1) Charleston, Steven. The Medicine Wheel (p. 79). Red Moon Publications. Kindle Edition.

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