In the 1920s the suffragette movement made it possible for women to vote. In the 1960s the civil rights movement helped to bring about legislation to give blacks a sense of equality in our society. One of the principle causes for these results was “persistence.”
In the Gospel (Luke 18:1-8), Jesus tells his disciples to be persistent. “…pray always without becoming weary.” Jesus underscores the notion of persistence by telling them a parable.
There was a judge in a certain town who feared neither God nor any human being. He did what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it. However, there was also a widow in the same town who had a pending case. The judge refused to handle it. The widow refused to stop asking for a fair judgement. This contretemp was finally settled when the judge said, in effect, “This widow keeps bothering me. I had better do something about her case, otherwise she will come and hit me with her umbrella.” The widow finally received justice, principally because of her persistence.
But Jesus wanted a certain kind of persistence from his disciples. He wanted a “faith based” persistence in prayer. Well, what does that mean? It means that we have to take seriously the realities of prayer and faith.
Prayer is, above all, our conversation with God. In conversation between friends, one speaks from the heart. One needs no script. And in that prayerful conversation, we can hear one of three answers: yes, no, maybe. “Yes”, my petition is granted. “No,” this is not the right time for my request. “Maybe,” but I must make sure that my motivation must not be selfish. The Lord’s Prayer is a good model, that is, the first part of the prayer is “praise” and the second part is the “petition.” This combination of praise and petition in prayers keeps us from asking for something all the time.
Faith is based on trust. IF we trust that Jesus is with us in bad times as well as in good times, then we have faith in Jesus, especially when our answer in prayer has been a “no,” or a “maybe.”
Above all, it seems to me that if we see prayer as conversation with God, we realize that we are communicating from the heart, which makes the communicarion REAL No script. And if our answers from prayer are “no” or “maybe,” then awareness of a faith based persistence will help us to hope for a “yes” answer.