There is a story about a woman who prayed for her husband’s salvation for forty years before he finally came to faith. She prayed despite his abusive words, mocking looks, and alcoholism. She prayed day after day, month after month, and year after year. And finally, after four decades of crying out to God, her husband believed. Her success was in consistent prayer – Pray Wait Trust.
Pray Wait Trust
Throughout this period of seemingly unanswered prayer, this faithful and godly wife learned a valuable lesson on prayer. We can’t simply pray once, forget about our prayers, and move on with our lives. Instead, we must pray, wait, and trust. If we’re going to see our prayers answered, we can’t send up a single prayer and forget about it. Effective prayer results when we pray and wait and trust over the long haul.
Jesus made this reality clear to his disciples by telling them a parable or story about a widow who needed the aid of a judge to deliver her justice. But, unfortunately, the judge was not righteous. Listen to the story and think about what it teaches us concerning prayer:
“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. A widow in that city kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out'” (Luke 18:2-5).
Here was a woman whose needs were so great that she was willing to petition him over the long haul faithfully. This widow essentially followed the same pattern that the woman I mentioned earlier did: pray wait trust.
Effective prayer begins with a cry to the only one who can answer our problems. This is why the widow in Jesus’ story called out to the judge, “Give me legal protection from my opponent.” She knew that even though the judge was unrighteous, he was also the only one who could give her the help she needed.
Like this widow, we must recognize that only one can answer our every problem and meet our every need: Our Father in Heaven. This is the first lesson in effective prayer, acknowledging that we need to pray. Once we’ve realized this truth, we can take the first step by crying out to God on behalf of our needs.
Though Jesus doesn’t explicitly say that this widow trusted she would get an answer, this fact is implicit in the story. The widow believed she would get a response because she “kept coming to him.” This was a widow who was persistent in her petitions. By noting this fact, Jesus was telling his disciples that they, too, should continue to pray. When we want to get ahold of God’s ear, we shouldn’t only ask once. We should continue petitioning him until we receive an answer.
We should trust that there is an answer waiting for us. This is even truer when we pray for things that we know are in the will of God. For example, we can understand that God wants us to experience spiritual growth and more extraordinary love, joy, peace, and hope. So when we pray for these things, we can do so with confidence and trust that he will answer.
Likewise, since God’s word tells us that he “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), we can pray with great trust when we pray for a lost loved one to come to faith.
After praying and trusting, the widow in Jesus’ story waited. However, her waiting did not consist of inaction. Instead, she waited by continuing to petition the judge. She waited in trust. She hoped, believing that her answer was just around the corner.
She didn’t wait in anxiety or fear. She didn’t worry or doubt. She waited in faith.
This is the kind of effective prayer that Christ calls us to today. He wants us to experience the type of prayer that gains God’s ear and receives real answers.
If you’ve had difficulty sustaining your prayer life in the past, I will encourage you to read Jesus’ parable of the petitioning widow again. Then, reflect on the words he told his disciples immediately after: “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly” (Luke 18:6-8).
If we continue to pray wait trust, then God will bring an answer. Don’t doubt. Don’t worry. Don’t fear.
We don’t have an unrighteous judge; we have a holy, loving Father who longs to hear from us and answer our prayers.
Also read: PRAYER FOR HOPE