In a parable at the start of Luke 18, Jesus illustrates the importance of persistence in prayer. We must be conscious that God sees and knows all. David puts it this way, “O LORD … you discern my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2). This parable challenges us to consider answers to prayer. Do we pray seeking to know God’s will for us, or are we only thinking and praying about our own needs?

Recently we read of the traumas in Paul’s life. How urgent his prayers must have been in the many difficult situations he endured, but his Lord led him through them all. Soon we will read of Jesus, in earnest prayer to his Father: he does not get the answer he seeks, but the Father’s will must be done (Luke 22:41,42).

Our way of thinking might cause us to wonder why the Lord led Paul into all his difficulties; but then we look at the outcome and realize that this causes faith to grow. So in this parable we see the woman’s faith was rewarded in the end. The end of the parable is that we should “always pray and not lose heart” (verse 7).

The climax is a question, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (verse 8). Will he find those who really know the value of prayer, who pray to the uttermost for a faith that grows? Faith of this calibre will enable us to cope with all situations as this world is falling apart. We must strive to be among those who do not lose heart?

The next parable is about two different types of men who went into the Temple to pray. One was telling the Almighty what he did, but it was the other whose prayer was heard. Jesus says, he “went down to his house justified”, and makes the point, “the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (verse 14). Yes, we ought always to pray – in humility of spirit – even more as we see scripture telling us our Master’s return will be at an hour he is not expected – all the more reason for us to be among “his elect who cry to him day and night” (verse 7).