The Parable of the Widow and the Judge

painting depicting saint lucy pleading before a judge

Prayer and faith are tied closely together, and that is at the heart of a parable we have in Luke 18 and starting in verse 1:

He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up, saying, “A certain judge was in a city, who didn’t fear God, and didn’t respect man. A widow was in that city, and she came often to him, saying, ‘Defend me from my adversary!’

“He wouldn’t for a while, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I don’t fear God, nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.'”

The Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. Won’t God avenge his elect, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them?”

Matthew 6 records Jesus telling us to not be anxious about the future but to rather be prayerful. We also find prayers of thanksgiving in the New Testament as well as prayers of supplication and forgiveness. This prayer in Luke, however, is little different. Here, the widow is directly calling for intervention. Jesus uses this plea to teach that God’s intervention sometimes take time, and God’s time should not discourage our prayer.

The Patient Prayer

Psalm 130:5 – 7:

I wait for Yahweh. My soul waits. I hope in his word. My soul longs for the Lord more than watchmen long for the morning; More than watchmen for the morning. Israel, hope in Yahweh, For with Yahweh there is lovingkindness. With him is abundant redemption.

God’s people often wait on the Lord. Take Hannah in I Samuel chapters 1 and 2 for example. She prayed over and again for a child, but it did not happen right away. Instead, it happened when God was ready, and her child would be one of the great leaders of God’s people. Take Daniel as well, who continued in prayer, even when it was prohibited by law. Despite all circumstances, he continued to pray — even when it looked like it might cost him his life.

The Accepting Prayer

The other side of this is that our prayers for intervention sometimes don’t get the answer we want. In II Corinthians 12:7 – 9, Paul asks for a “thorn of the flesh” to be removed. Paul prayed three times over this, but God says His grace is sufficient. Paul’s prayer did not go unanswered, but the answer was not what he wanted.

So why do we continue in prayer if we know we might have to wait or that we might not get the answer we want? It’s because our prayer life is not transactional; rather it’s relational. We grow closer to God every time we pray. Accepting God’s answers teaches us humility and grace. An active prayer life, especially we have to be patient in prayer, makes us more like Christ, whom we are supposed to imitate.

lesson by Herb Smelser

Spiritually Overcoming


If we’re truly following Christ, we are engaged in a battle. Ephesians 6:10 opens a passage that describes us as arming ourselves for that spiritual conflict. It’s something that we have to be prepared for if we are going to survive. Paul goes on to enumerate the times we should be wearing God’s armor as we engage in a battle for our souls. This preparation helps us stand firm.

Entirely Prepared

Truth is the belt that holds our entire armor together. Righteousness protects our heart, and our readiness covers our feet. This means we are always ready and willing to do God’s work. Additionally, faith shields us from Satan’s attacks, and the knowledge of salvation protects our minds. Finally, the only weapon we have is God’s word.

Starting in Ephesians 6:18, Paul tells us to be prayerful in our preparation so that we may have the courage to withstand, and he emphasizes praying for each other. This is an act of unity and solidarity. We are helping each other when we pray. Furthermore, I’ll have little time to pursue ungodliness if I’m busy praying for others.

Romans 12:2 tells us to not be conformed but rather transformed. It takes effort to allow God to transform us from following after this world into being something new and better. II Corinthians 10:5 says to keep our thoughts under control, and Philippians 4:8 tells us what our minds should be focused on in the place of those things that can distract and disarm us.

Steadfast in Trials

We will face trials. We will be held to the fire, but God has given us all we need to overcome. John 15:18 begins a sobering passage where Jesus tells His disciples about the hostility his disciples will face. Sometimes, the biggest temptation we will face is that of ridicule, of simply not fitting in. Jesus went through those trials, and so will we.

John 3:17 says that Jesus came to save the world rather than judge it, and He goes on to say that those who reject Him have already judged themselves. He says His light divides good from evil. II Corinthians 7:2 begins a passage where Paul describes his own trials and the comfort He found in God and in them. In his first letter, Paul was pretty harsh with those in Corinth, but he now wants them to remember his love for them. That love is the motivation for sharing Christ’s light.

I Timothy 6:11 encourages us to flee temptation and focus on righteousness. He calls us to fight the fight of faith and to remain steadfast. Our enemy will try to shake us, but we can withstand. Hebrews 12:3 – 4 encourages us to look to Christ, who endured unto death. The Hebrew writer says we can do the same, and now we are God’s children. He loves us and is protecting our souls. There are times when we will be tired and feel beat down, but God is with us. He is always with us, and through Him, we can see victory in this spiritual battle.

lesson by Kent Ward