Prayer (Biblical Perspectives)

Luke 18:1-8 (KJV)
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying,
There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

   The parable of the Unjust Judge is part two of Christ’s discourse on prayer. Part one is the Lord’s Prayer which is his response to his disciple’s request to teach them how to pray, found in Matthew 6:9-13. The Lord’s Prayer teaches the disciples the “how” or the specifics: how we ought to address God (as a divine parent), what we are seeking from him (his will to be done for us and the world, our daily bread, forgiveness, protection from evil) and the conditions we will meet in order to meet his requirements (we will forgive others first before seeking God’s forgiveness). Interestingly enough the conditions we are required to meet are to be open, innocent, humble and forgiving.

In the parable of the Unjust Judge, Christ provides more detail about the attitude and conditions required for successful prayer. In the analogy we have a judge who is above the law (neither fears God, nor regards man). Although the judge represents God, it is a depiction of His impartiality and physical inaccessibility towards humanity rather than His last lack of mercy, compassion or justice.

The widow represents the insignificance of mankind in comparison to God. In ancient times, widows had no status in society-no husband to represent, provide and protect her- they were poor and overlooked- the ancient world’s “underclass”. It is no wonder that throughout the bible, we are commanded to care for widows and orphans.

In the parable prayer is characterised as an impossible activity: an exchange between the lowest of the low in society with the highest and most inaccessible authority of the land. The story of the Unjust Judge could end there- the socio-economic, cultural and gender differences between the judge and the widow suggest that they would never have a chance to meet: but it is Prayer that bridges the divide between these two paradoxical worlds.

The widow is no ordinary woman- she is on a mission to be “avenged of her adversary”. Her power source is derived from her importunity or persistence-probably because she is so desperate that she has nothing to lose. In the verse we find her constantly “troubling” the judge with her request for him to “avenge her of her adversary”. We find here then that the judge’s weakness becomes the source of the widow’s power: his fear of being “wearied” leads to his acquiescence to her request.

The end of the parable explains how God relates to those seek him in earnest prayer. Such people are described by Christ as his “elect”. Why elect? I suppose that contained within the term is the secret of prayer- our desperate need for an answer will lead us to cry out to God. If we are not serious and if we do not believe that God will answer us, we will quickly give up. Those who are importunate and persevering “crying out day and night”, will continue to petition God until he answers simply because they have faith- the essential ingredient. “When the son of man cometh, will he find faith in the earth?” is Christ’s earnest question. It is this same “elect” group, who are described in Matthew 24:13 as those “who endure to the end” and will be “saved”.

In this parable, part two of his discourse on prayer, Christ takes us from the temporal, day to day significance of praying for everyday needs, in order to reveal its ultimate eternal and cosmic purpose. It is only through prayer that we can develop the type of character and relationship with God that will fit us for heaven and enable us to receive salvation.


Collection of Biblical Perspectives

The Lifesaving Good News

The gospel, otherwise known as the "good news", is described by Paul in Romans 1:16 as the "power of God unto salvation to all who believes"...more

Happiness; a much-sought after state of mind

is, according to the bible, what all Christians need to be striving for...more

Nothing of Himself

It’s interesting in the scriptures above that an important aspect of Christ’s mission was to reveal the character of God...more


When placed in context of the scriptural passage, we find Jesus describing his mission on earth as God's spiritual peace envoy...more

My Faith

Faith is intangible and invisible and yet it is an essential element in the Christian walk...more

Salvation: The Ark of God!

We need not question any further; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in partnership to execute the mystery of salvation...more

The Anatomy of Repentance

Paradoxically, when we are engaged in it, it is "sin" that feels like height and "repentance" that seems like depths...more

The Purpose of Joy

Joy therefore is the natural response to the transformation brought about by divine intervention...more

Be Still And Know God

Stillness is a state of mind- not moving or making a sound (adjective) deep silence and calm...more

Finding Our Purpose

If we are made in the image and likeness of God, he expects us to have his character as well...more

Suffering to Learn from

What is clear however is that God has designed suffering for us to learn from, praise Him for and gain righteousness in...more


God is the king who mercifully forgave the debt of ten thousand talents which was owed to him by one of his servants...more


In the parable prayer is characterised as an impossible activity: an exchange between the lowest of the low in society with the most inaccessible authority of the land...more


We need not succumb to fear when we have God on our side. If we exchange human fear with "fear of the Lord" we have wisdom...more

Have Faith in God!

It is interesting that prayer is the essential component in developing faith in God...more


He was a model intercessor whose primary motivation was God's glory (see Nehemiah 1:4-11)...more