Persistent Prayer

You may have seen little children doing it with folded hands while kneeling at bedtime or unison voices following the lead of the minister during a solemn religious service. Perhaps it is part of your mealtime, morning, and evening rhythm – as normal and important as breathing. However, if you didn’t grow up attending any type of church, it may be a practice you consider awkward , odd, or mysterious.  Or maybe it’s something you did once in your life during a particularly scary or painful experience. “Dear God, if you are up there, help!” I have heard this type of prayer a lot as a hospital chaplain especially during the time of crisis of hospitalization.

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary… Lk.18:1” Jesus went ahead and told a story of a Judge in a certain town with a widow asking for justice.

In my hospital ministry as a chaplain, prayer is a vital tool to support the patients, families and staff who are open to it.  Prayer provides peace, solace, and healing in times of crisis. Prayer has proven to be comforting in those moments,  but unfortunately some prayers did not yield their “expected results” according to our human thinking. The Lord says: “My ways are not your ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Prayer is usually occasional for some people. It is usually an emergency! Prayer, sometimes, could be like a spare tire that we pull out of the trunk when all the others have gone flat! However, Jesus teaches us that prayer is the key to the heart of the Father; and for every believer, it should be a constant practice, in season and out of season. Now, in order to understand the  parable, we’ve got to understand the cultural setting of the story.

Photos licensed by Godaddy. Used with license.

Now, this is a court room, and usually when we think of a court room in our western culture we think of a huge building. In those days the judge would pack his tent and travel from one end of the country to the other with his huge tent. He was the law! And what he said went, and he had his assistants around him. The people stood on outside the tent waiting to bring their case to the judge. Now if you had money and you could get to one of the assistants and bribe them who in turn would bribe the judge, then your case would be heard and you would be assured of winning. This is what Amos talks about in Amos 2:6-7, when he says that they sold the poor for a pair of shoes. Setting forth the fact that, whatever was offered, the bribe could be as little as a pair of shoes. And so, it is much like today, if you’ve got money you can basically get away with a whole lot of stuff.

 And so, our story, revolves around a widow who has no husband, and she is deprived. And yet Jesus chooses to make this widow an object lesson to show us that we ought always to do… pray!   Now, she’s got several problems! Number one she’s a widow; there is no old age assistance, no welfare; none of that!  Above all she did not have any representation, and she had no husband who could testify for her in court. And so, she’s got all of these problems; she can’t go inside because she’s a woman. She has no money to bribe the judges. And we’ve got a mean judge on our hands whom the bible says does not fear God nor man. And yet Jesus uses this story, that when you’ve got a no-good judge, you’ve got obstacles in your life, no money, deprived, cashed out; He says, in spite of the obstacles against you, KEEP ON PRAYING UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS!

KEEP ON PRAYING UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS!

My dear friends, there are some obstacles in your life where the odds are stacked against you! And the evil one has told you just forget about it, throw in the towel; it could be a financial crisis, health crisis; relationship, marriage, and family issues, problems at your workplace, career pressure, unfair treatment, emptiness and boredom, confusion etc. but this text teaches us whatever the experiencing might be, KEEP ON PRAYING UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS!

[Readings: 3 Jn 5-8; Lk 18:1-10]

Fr. Ajuka Paschal

Fr. Ajuka Paschal

Fr. Nnaemeka Paschal Ajuka, PhD., BCC; is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, Nigeria. He is currently a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC). He is a retreat preacher who loves his faith. As a sociologist, he cherishes and operates from the vertical and horizontal relationships with God and neighbor. He takes Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace “Lord make me an Instrument of Peace,” as his ministry mission statement. Currently, he is a caregiver with the department of Spiritual care department, Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN a member of Gratia Vobis Ministries board of directors.

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