Unrelenting Petition

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 (Luke 18:7–8, esv)?

What’s the worst thing happening in your life right now?

It could be something personal and private, known only to you and perhaps one or two others. It could be relational tension in your marriage or between you and one of your children. It could be a season of major stress at work or school. It could be a health scare, a current threat on the world stage, or a particular worry about your kids or grandkids away at college.

It could be anything. The worst thing you can think of. And you do think of it—ten, twenty times throughout the day, if not all day. But how much longer have you been thinking about it than praying about it?

The widow in Jesus’ parable from Luke 18 represented someone enduring one of the worst crises imaginable. Like every widow, her husband’s death was a problem entirely outside her control. Furthermore (as you yourself might attest, if you’ve ever dealt with being wronged, abused, neglected, or betrayed), her experience of injustice was among the hardest things anyone ever faces. And to top it all off, the judge in her town—the only one capable of helping her—was absolutely disinterested and unmotivated to do anything about it.

She was on her own. With no avenue for appeal. Without a prayer.

Yet she kept on coming.

And by way of her fictional story, God gives us all the reason we need for persisting in prayer ourselves. For if the epitome of a cruel, unjust, atheistic, self-centered government official—“a judge who neither feared God nor respected man” (Luke 18:2)—could be moved to action on this widow’s behalf, why would our Father not be moved to bless and assist His children? “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). After already giving us His best, what would possibly prevent Him from giving us the rest?

To not persist in prayer, then, boils down to a failure to understand the character of God. Because anyone who knows the Father’s heart, or what the Son has given, or who follows the guidance of the Holy Spirit will realize what’s available to us through the vehicle of prayer. His known character is proof enough.

God is just, bringing justice to His people. God is good, acting on our behalf. God is attentive, always hearing the persistent prayers of those who come to Him with clean hands and a pure heart. God is holy, faithful to work on those parts of us that keep us from experiencing freedom and hopeful confidence, even as He responds to our prayers with compassion, grace, and power.

Many lean on the crutch of addiction instead of trusting God’s heart for what they need. Some depend on a drug prescription to assuage what persistent prayer could resolve. Others continue nursing the wounds of their past because they don’t believe God is either willing or able to fill the emotional holes they feel they’ve been left to compensate for.

But even if you think you’re watching the worst-of-the-worst unfold—even if it looks like it’s as bad as it can get, with the hope of relief seeming to be an impossible dream—trust the heart of God to prove your fears and discouragements wrong. And to prove Himself just and strong.


  • Write out some descriptors you know to be true about the character and nature of God.
  • How well does your prayer life reflect what God proclaims His character to be?

Lord, You are good, and You are faithful. You are omnipotent and the fount of all wisdom. You are merciful and gracious, compassionate and kind. You are diametrically opposed to sin, yet tenderly inclined to lift up the worst of sinners. I come today worshiping and remembering who You are, who You’ve been, and who You will still prove to my heart that You are, as I trust and pray in the pure and holy name of Jesus, amen.