image by Lukas Prudil from Pixabay

In the Bible, there is a beautiful practical story narrated by Jesus. In this story, we get two main characters. A widow and a judge. A Widow was a powerless person in that society. On the other hand, a judge was a powerful person. As Jesus did very often, even here he made this contrast between powerful and powerless. The powerless person kept on requesting the powerful person to execute justice. According to this story, this judge was not a person who gave the right judgements. Yet because of the persistence of this widow, he was compelled to carry out justice.

By telling this story Jesus emphasised the importance and necessity of persistence in prayer. What is the method to have persistence in prayer? Or in other words, how can we maintain persistence in prayer. The answer to this question is within the story narrated by Jesus. This particular widow did not just pray in an isolated place. She kept on requesting the judge to carry out justice. Her prayer and action were together. She did not divide prayer and action into two compartments.

Think about our lives. Don’t we very often pray in order to avoid action? Then prayer becomes a substitute for action making our lives separated from the real-life situations out in the world. Then we find it difficult to have persistence in prayer because we are not in touch with the ground realities that we are praying for. Look at the Bible – Jesus never prayed in this manner. Let’s just take one example from the life of Jesus for our edification.

Let me take one of my favourite prayers of Jesus. That is the prayer of Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus narrated this prayer he was fully involved. Not just involved: he was sensing death. Then what was his prayer? “Lord take this cup away from me, but not my will, your will be done”. Jesus was persistent in prayer mainly because of 2 things. The first thing was that as I told you earlier he was involved. The second reality was that he always wrestled to know the will of God.

Rt. Rev'd Keerthisiri Fernando is the Bishop of Kurunegala in the Diocese of Kurunegala, Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka