Woman walking | The parable of the persistent widow

Parable Of The Persistent Widow: How Prayer Changes Things

The parable of the persistent widow, found in the Gospel of Luke, is a parable that Jesus uses to teach about the power and necessity of persistent prayer. In this Parable of the persistent widow, a widow repeatedly approaches an unjust judge, seeking justice against her adversary. Despite the powerful judge’s initial reluctance, the judge eventually grants her request due to her unwavering persistence. 

This parable of the Persistent Widow is significant as it illustrates the importance of steadfast faith and continuous prayer, encouraging believers to remain resolute in their petitions to God. It also underscores God’s willingness to respond to the cries of His people, contrasting the unrighteous judge’s begrudging compliance with the widow’s petitions after she has begged and pleaded becoming the proverbial thorn in his side with God’s compassionate and just nature.

The parable of the persistent widow is an important reminder that our heavenly father is loving and kind. It also shows us the importance of persistence and prayer.  

Parable Of The Persistent Widow

Perhaps you’ve read this parable before in your Bible study time or heard your pastor talk about it. But perhaps not, so let’s take a moment and dive into this beautiful parable and learn more about our merciful God and a widow’s persistence.

Let’s set the stage, we find the parable of the Persistent Widow (you may also know it as the parable of the unjust judge) in the New Testament book of Luke chapter 18 verses 1 through 18. This is one of the Parables of Jesus, as He is teaching a large crowd. Just after this passage, we find the parable of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector followed by Jesus calling the little children to him. 

Parable Of The Persistent Widow In The Bible 

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” 

Luke 18: 1-18 NIV

What does persistence mean biblically?

Maybe you’ve read that passage and now you are asking yourself what Biblical persistence means. Well, let’s dig a little deeper. In the parable of the Persistent Widow, we see a pretty good picture of Biblical Persistence. This woman came again and again over a long time period. She presented her case again and again. She petitioned. She continued to bring her pleas, even when she saw no immediate result. 

In this same persistent way as the poor widow in Jesus’ parable,  we are to bring our prayer requests, petitions, and burdens to our loving Father. 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)

What does it mean to be persistent in prayer? 

The definition of persistent according to the Oxford Languages dictionary is continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. So how do we continue firmly in prayer in spite of whatever difficulty we face? If we take the example of the whole parable and apply it to our own prayer life, it will look like consistency. Never giving up on the power of prayer, while presenting our requests to the Lord Jesus.

Does God answer persistent prayers?

I’m so glad you asked! In Ephesians 6:18 it says “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” 

The word of God in Ephesians 6 makes it very clear that as Christians persistent prayer should be part of our Christian walk. We should be praying every day, persistently for our God’s people, our fellow believers’ needs, the family member who is walking through a hard season, our pastors, our leaders,  ourselves, and the situations we face, and for God’s justice. Just as this woman’s requests were continually being presented we should be doing the same in prayer, dear friend. 

What is an example of persistent prayer?

​A good example of persistent prayer in the Bible besides this parable of the persistent widow, is Hannah. Hannah’s story is found in the Old Testament, it’s there we read of this woman’s earnest and persistent petitions for a child. 

Pray Persistently Bible Verse

Let’s take a look at some scriptures that pertain to persistent prayer and the parable of the persistent widow: 

Colossians 4:2-6 GNTA

Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach his message about the secret of Christ. For that is why I am now in prison. Pray, then, that I may speak, as I should, in such a way as to make it clear. Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone. Why does God want us to be persistent in prayer? 

Jeremiah 29:12-13

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “

Psalm 5:3

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Psalm 141:2

“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.”

Romans 8:26

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Romans 12:12 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Ephesians 6:18 

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.“

1 John 5:14

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

woman walking in the woods | The parable of the persistent widow

​Lessons From The Persistent Widow Parable

So what can we take away from Jesus’ teaching of this parable? Let’s dig a little deeper and see how we can apply it to our own life.

  • ​Persistence is vital to our prayer life. 

Persistence is vital to our prayer life, the Bible tells us many times that we should pray without ceasing and continue to bring our requests to the Lord.

  • We must hold on to hope, even when we don’t see an immediate change in the circumstances.

We must cling to our hope, even when we feel like nothing is changing. Our hope is in Christ as followers of Jesus not the things of this world and we can be confident that He is at work even when we can not see it.  

  • We must continue to trust in God when we find ourselves in such circumstances as the widow in this passage. 

​We must continue to trust God even when we feel like life’s storms are tossing us in the wind because our God is still God even in the storm. He is at work in the good times and the bad. Even in the midst of the pain, the heartache, the brokenness of this world we can trust that He is faithful in every season. 

  • Patience goes hand in hand with persistence. 

Patience and Persistence go hand in hand, to be persistent we must also be patient and remember that his timing is not our timing. 

  • Don’t lose heart but instead cling to the promises of God and keep praying.

When we are faced with a situation like we find in this parable it’s easy to lose hope and give up. But this passage is clear that we are to cling to God’s word and press on in persistent prayer leaving the results in God’s hands and never giving up hope.

The Persistent Widow In The Bible

The parable of the persistent widow and the evil judge is an important reminder for our prayer life as Christians. This widow is a shining reminder that such prayer is vital and that we should remain steadfast, unmoveable in the hold of God, trusting His word and promises until we see the breakthrough.

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1 thought on “Parable Of The Persistent Widow: How Prayer Changes Things”

  1. Patience is the ability to wait while maintaining good attitudes. Really blessed! Thank you very much.

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