Friday, 18 October 2013

Going on

Gospel Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

A strange Gospel this; mostly because of the insinuation that we can get whatever we want from God just by nagging. Or maybe it is just the image of the widow woman that makes it seem like that? 

Nevertheless, there is this impression that God never says ‘no’ just ‘not yet – because you haven’t prayed hard enough, you haven’t managed to attract my attention.’

From out of Gospel stories like these comes the practice of Novenas – a belief that if we say enough prayers; at certain times and in certain orders then our prayers will be answered. And there are the adverts in the personal column and the masses of thanksgiving that suggest that, at least some of the time, such methods work.

Such persistence, for a widow, is a pretty brave thing to do. At this time, widows were the least of the least. If anyone knew their place it was the old women with few to care if they lived or died. Despite the fact that the Law demanded that widows were to be cared for; both the 'enemy' and the judge seem able to look the other way.

Without hope what else was the widow to do? All the time becoming more and more convinced that what she was asking for was justice; and more and more determined to get it. Knowing that there was no other way; convinced that the only person who could help was the Judge.

Even in need, I have always found asking God for things quite difficult. Because how do I know I am asking for the right thing?

Am I being selfish; impulsive; am I saying that I know better than God?

But that doesn’t stop me praying; giving God what is in my heart; in my life. Giving God my tears, my frustration and my anger. And still losing my temper on occasion.

But praying; praying because I know God’s there; praying because I know God knows I’m here.

Praying because there is a time and place for everything and in the meantime there’s a lot to do and a lot to learn.

Praying because, unlike the widow and the judge,  me and God are in a long term relationship – and we both know – there are no quick answers to hard questions.


1 comment:

Lynda said...

This gives me lots to think about. I appreciate your comment about Novenas as I was unaware of their rationale. I appreciate your closing thoughts very much. Blessings.