The last thing I want you to carry away from this short series is the moral that God is a cosmic vending machine, with endless goodies to give us if we just mash the right buttons with the right intensity. Yes, God wants us to approach him with shocking desperation, boldness, and persistence. But Jesus also reminds us that God answers us as a loving father does his children. Which is to say, sometimes he says, "No."
God is glorified through our persistent boldness. By pounding on God’s door, praying and refusing to give up, we declare our confidence in the goodness and the power of God. The more the pounding, the greater the declaration of confidence. I know trying to manage the tension between God’s sovereignty and our prayer can make your head start to ache. But if you can stop trying to reduce God down to an easy syllogism and just listen to Jesus, the message is clear: If God’s not answering, keep praying.
When you listen to a parable, you should be thinking, “Somebody in this parable is me. And somebody in this parable is God.” So the disciples are listening in, saying, “Okay, we have to be the needy old widow, right? Right. But that would make God … woah, wait a minute. You’re saying that God is like a grumpy old judge who doesn’t care—about people or about justice—and only gives this woman what she wants because she’s annoying him?” Who else but Jesus could get away with that analogy?
Jesus didn’t save us by teaching us principles. He saved us by giving us resurrection power. If we understand that, we will pray desperately. We won’t need to be told to pray more often. Instead, we won’t be able to keep from praying. The more we see our desperation, the more we sense our need for prayer.
If you really want to embarrass the average Christian, just ask them to tell you about their prayer lives. Many of us can impress others with our Bible knowledge or our evangelism stories. But our private prayer lives? Not so much. Jesus himself lived with the constant awareness that even he could do nothing on his own (John 5:19). So how is it that what was fundamental to Jesus is merely supplemental to our churches?
Believer, you are chosen to pray. And part of that means that you have been sovereignly placed in certain situations where you can perceive God’s will and cry out to God, “Lord, fulfill this promise in this place! Lord, let your kingdom come in my family, my neighborhood, my workplace!” Far from undermining prayer, a true understanding of sovereignty moves us to pray. It gives us a divine confidence that we are where we are because God has prayers for us to offer there.