“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)
Many Christians find it difficult to pray, despite the fact that Jesus said men ought to pray. Why? First, there is the fear of not saying the right thing. Second, it is hard to concentrate. Third, there is a sense of personal foolishness with a new practice. Fourth, there is a wondering if Anyone is really listening.
Besides all these matter, there are other obstacles to overcome in order to have a life of prayer. There is the obstacle of priorities, or lack of time. There is the obstacle of little faith. “It is ridiculous to suppose that the great Head of things, whatever it be, pays any regard to human affairs.” (Pliny the Elder, AD 23-79) There is the obstacle of self-consciousness.
Because of innate difficulties, and obstacles, Jesus set forth a parable to encourage people to pray.
Consider the Unjust Judge. In this parable we are presented with an Unjust Judge. The character of the man is deplorable, He does not fear God and he has no respect for others. His ears have heard so many cases over the years that his heart is like a stone. Women in need find no mercy at his court. They are dismissed to wallow in despair.
Consider the “Importunate (or persistent) Widow.” We know this, because, in the parable, from the shadows of suffering there came a widow. She has a simple plea consisting of five words: “Avenge me of mine adversary.” She repeats these words over, and over again. This poor widow might have had many adversaries. Perhaps her husband left her in debt, and now the creditors have come demanding that she pay what is owed. But what can she do? She can only appeal for legal relief. “Help me,” she pleads with the justice system. Day after day when the opportunity arose, the voice of this widow was to be heard in the ears of the Judge. “Avenge me of mine adversaries.” Each day, her cry became louder, and more plaintive.
Had the Judge been more righteous, he would have helped the widow quickly, for the Law of Moses encouraged mercy to be shown. “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.” (Ex. 22:22) The Bible says that pure religion and undefiled is to care for the widows in their affliction. (James 1:27) But the Judge would not help the woman, and the woman would not cease her quest for justice.
Finally, more out of being annoyed the Judge made a decision. “Though I fear not God, nor regard man,” said the Judge to himself, “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
In the Judge, Jesus finds a stunning similarity, and a dramatic difference concerning God. The similarity is that God the Father shall avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him.
Here is a precious promise for the elect of God. The Lord is sensitive for the cries of His own. And why should the Lord not be so sensitive in light of the special relationship He acknowledges in the term, elect.
One of the great truths of the Bible is that God has an elect people. Simply stated, the elect refers to those people whom God has chosen to be the heirs of salvation. “Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9) We did not choose Jesus, He chose us. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We are not born of God because we made a wise decision for Christ one starry night after responding to an emotional appeal that we be saved. It is not even because we exercised our own will. John 1:13 says that we are born again, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
God must do something first in a person in order for them to be saved because “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:11-12)
It is in matchless grace that God has moved to do something for sinners. He will regenerate some. He will give them the gospel. He will draw them to Himself. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39)
The elect are those who have been selected, or chosen, before the foundation of the world by our Sovereign God, to show forth His mercy and grace. There is nothing in any person that can account for the grace God has extended so that they are among the elect, or it would no longer be grace. When a person truly understands the Biblical doctrine of election, they can sing with astonishment.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!”
Yes, a person must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. No person is saved against their will, or allowed to remain in unbelief. But it is God’s grace that gives the capacity to believe and to desire Jesus, so that it can be said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
Many people have never considered their salvation from a Divine perspective. They have only known a human understanding of their salvation, and because of that they have not considered the Biblical doctrine of election. Nevertheless, there is an elect people of God. Jesus said that when their prayers are persistently offered to God, He will avenge His own. The Lord will help the elect.
Now there are several reasons why particular attention is paid to the word “elect” in this passage. The word itself forces a person to consider his relationship to the living God. It is certain that not all people shall be saved from the penalty, power, and pollution of sin, but many are. It is important that all who come under the sound of the gospel examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. A person can know if they are part of the elect if they will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing stands between a person and salvation except unbelief. The word ‘elect’ is a biblical word, and should not be dismissed. Election provides a basis for trust, and love, and fellowship. The Christian can say, “I am His, and He is mine.”
If God is like the Judge in that He will listen to persistent prayers, God is unlike the Judge, in that He will move more speedily. As a father is quick to move to defend his own, so God the Father will move to protect His own. Jesus told this parable to encourage the hearts of the elect to pray, and so we shall, all the while believing there is power in persevering prayer.