Persistence in Prayer: Our Best Hope

Living under a sense of injustice is one of the most corroding experiences to the human spirit. It can trigger unrelieved anger, cynicism, a desire for revenge. Or it can bring on depression, lapses into passivity, or an ongoing preoccupation with a burning grievance.  

Jesus knew that his followers would face injustices of many kinds, and that during some periods of their history injustice would be more intense than at other times. That is why his followers needed teaching about how to respond. 

According to Jesus, in Luke 18, the first response to injustice in life should be prevailing prayer. He said to his followers that “they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1).

Then, to underline the point, he told them a story about a woman seeking justice.  

The judge in the story was both godless and cold toward human need. We can guess he was available only to people who could pay up. 

But the woman who needed his help was a widow, completely on her own. The only one who could help her was this judge, who lived across town, but she could not pay. What to do?

The widow trekked across town, knocked at the judge’s door, and waited. The judge’s clerk opened the door, saw at a glance the marks of her poverty, and slammed the door. She had no chance to present her plea.

But the next morning, though weary, she made the same trek. This time the judge’s assistant directed a mouthful of abuse at her and slammed the door again. For several days she got the same response. But she kept on. 

Then came a surprise. One morning the judge’s assistant greeted her with a legal paper in hand. It assured her of the protection she needed. Her persistence had won for her the security she had pleaded for. 

Why did the judge yield to her repeated entreaties? It was not that his heart had warmed. Jesus explained that the judge had yielded because he began to fear that if he didn’t meet her need she might even attack him. The constancy and intensity of her asking had won her case!   

Why then dwell on injustices that cripple our spirits? If a heartless judge can be moved to do the right thing by persistent appeals, why not believe that unceasing prayers to a loving Heavenly Father, offered earnestly and repeatedly, will bring justice in this world or the next (Luke 18:6-7)?

Jesus then attached this question (v. 8): “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” That is, will there be believers who are practicing intense prayer to overcome the injustices that plague them? 

This was Jesus’ searching question to his disciples two thousand years ago, and it is still addressed to his followers today. We must answer it individually.

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Photo credit: Ninac26 (via

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