I just took my dog Darcy for a walk. I didn't want to. I mean, it's a dark and drizzly sort of morning, the humidity is high, and I have a headache. But I walked anyway.
In Darcy's economy walking ranks right up there with "cheese" and "ride" (as in riding in the suburban with the window down and ear flapping in the breeze).
And for her hope springs eternal. Every morning she follows on my heels and refuses to allow me out of her sight. There are many able bodied walkers in our home but it is on me which all her hopes reside. If I dare to sit down at the computer she barks. In fact if I dare to sit anywhere for any length of time she barks. She is on constant alert for the telltale signs of an impending walk: my shoes, my hat, the leash. Her effusion of joy upon me slipping the leash from its hook is nothing less than full-bodied, unbridled excitement.
We walk most mornings. There are those mornings when we can't, either because it's raining or I have things to do and places to go. And some mornings I just don't want to. She doesn't realize this. She has a singular desire, to walk, and a singular focus, me. In other words she nearly drives me CRAZY.
She's like that persistent widow of Jesus' parable, you know the one who keeps after the judge for justice against her adversary until he finally relents and gives her what she asks? In the parable the judge, worn down by the widow's persistent pleas, says to himself "because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming (Luke 18:5)." I understand. I gave into Darcy this morning because she was bothering me and beating me down with her continual whining and barking!
Jesus explains to us the point of the parable at the outset: "And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1)." It may seem a little strange to us, a parable about prayer featuring an exasperated judge who finally gives in merely to gain some relief. Yet Jesus is arguing a lesser to greater truth. If it's true that an unrighteous judge will, however reluctantly, grant the petition of the widow woman, how much more will our righteous Judge hear and answer the prayers of His people?
So the widow--and to some degree my dog Darcy--becomes an example of persistence. The widow and Darcy both know where to take their plea and neither relents in their determination to gain what they most desire.
We are to be persistent in prayer, Jesus says, and not to lose heart. This kind of persistence is work and requires a confident faith in the righteous Judge who knows what I need before I ask and who is at work accomplishing His good, acceptable and perfect will. I confess how easily my faith wavers and I give up. In fact, as I think on it, there are very few things about which I have consistently and persistently prayed over the long haul. Often, too often, I doubt the Lord's provision and seek answers elsewhere. How I long for the kind of God-honoring desperation that persists in seeking Him in prayer!