I was once taught that where prayer is focused, power falls. I believe that! I wish I could recount the number of times that I have seen prayers answered both in my life in the lives of people around me. Sometimes it is a little prayer that gets uttered in total desperation that eventually turns out to be a much bigger thing later on. And sometimes we think the world is about to cave in and then discover it was not as bad as we thought it was at first.
But what does this phrase mean exactly? Where prayer is focused, power falls. Well first of all we need to operate as Christian people who have their eyes wide open. We need to really see what’s going on. Oh it is easy to pray what I would call the King James type prayers; the kind that every one speaks of when things are going well and we are thankful for what we have and what we’ve got. They usually we praise God with something like “well, bless God!” Or something like we “just” praise and thank you God because … what do we pray when things are not going our way? More importantly are we going to keep praying for what is necessary and requisite for the body as well as the soul when things get rough. Are we going to pray to remain and be faithful or are we going to pray for Christ to come and bail us out of all this mess? Neither of these is wrong. We should in fact move to pray both for the strength to stand (because we would be calling on God’s strength and not our own) and for the Kingdom to come because it is the Father’s world and Christ’s kingdom that is coming to this world. It is not either – or. It both – and kind of deal.
For me, the parable of the persistent widow is about two things – what are we focused on and how ready is God to respond to our prayers. In the parable the widow wants justice and mercy for her situation. She pursues what she wants doggedly, even to the point where a judge who does not fear God and does not respect any other person, is willing to give this woman what she wants. He will give it to her just because he begins to be fearful about what others might think of him because of what she is saying to him and about him to others. He does don’t want or need a black eye on his reputation as a adjudicator or as a man. The woman’s persistence will do just that.
Are we willing to persist in prayer as this woman has pursued justice for herself? Are we willing to go after what we believe we need and keep asking and keep driving towards that goal until we have an answer? Let’s us not forget that answers to prayer are not always immediate. God will answer our prayers in his way and in his time. It’s not like a 3 minute egg or instant oatmeal. Some answers to some prayers take time to be answered and require us to persevere and pray. Not only that, prayer requires not only a response from God, it affects us. It should cause us to be opening the call to be an answer to some of the prayers that are made.
And let’s not forget the work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of all this – that the Spirit opens windows and closes doors. We as Christian people need to be ready to climb in, not just to walk through the door. By having a heart that is open to the move of the Spirit we can be use of God to be in those places and spaces where we are needed so that we can be an answer to somebody’s prayer. And maybe its our own.
Most of all, let us remind each other of how good God is and how ready God is to answer prayer – the opposite of the unjust judge. God waits for us to pray so that he can respond and so that he can move us to be in those places and spaces he needs us to be as his Church so that we can know him and be a blessing to others who are in need. Never forget: where prayer is focused, power falls.