Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”Luke 18:1-8
Prayer is a battle against our nature prone to weariness and fainting. At Israel’s battle with Amalek, the progress of the fight undulated with Moses’ strength to keep his hands raised in prayer. When weariness overtook him, Aaron and Hur propped up his hands to final victory (Exodus 17:8-13). At the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples of Jesus were so overcome with sleep that they could not keep their eyes open for even an hour. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38; Matthew 26:41).
In Jesus’ parable, the widow battles not only her own faintheartedness, but a callous and pitiless judge. Her persistent pleas finally weary him to the point of yielding, like a boxer felled in a sparring match: “lest she finally come and strike me.”
The widow, like Jacob wrestling with the angel, says: “I will not let you go until you bless me” (Genesis 32:27). Jacob’s new name Israel (“one who struggles with God”) expresses the relationship of humans with God. Persistence finally pays off. Unjust judges yield, and fallen fathers give their children eggs rather than scorpions.
And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?”Luke 11:9-13