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For Your Weekend: The Widow Who Never Stops Asking

Mallory Smyth

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Luke 18:1–8

There was once a time in my life when my prayers to God were bold. I asked Him for everything from revival in the world and miracles in tragedy to things like my sanctification, a husband, acne medicine that I couldn’t afford, and a dirt cheap Patagonia fleece for my birthday. Believe it or not, Proactive appeared at my doorstep with no name on the box, and I found a very inexpensive Patagonia fleece at a thrift store two days after I prayed that prayer. Thank you, Lord, for caring about the little things. 

What was it that made me so bold? I didn’t have a choice. I was a twenty-six-year-old missionary with very little money to spare. I knew I was poor, and I knew I needed God’s providence if I was going to make it from one month to the next. He didn’t always show up the way I wanted Him to, but He always showed up. 

Today, as I look back on those years of total dependence on God, I have to admit that my prayer is much weaker. No longer do I ask God for everything, no matter how big or small. I hold back from bringing Him all that is in my heart. I no longer have the same awareness of my need as I did when I was a missionary. Instead, I approach my time with God filled with self-reliance. And even as I petition Him, I am timid. Over time, my unbridled trust in Him has waned, and even though I still ask for things in prayer, I’m often already discouraged by the perceived outcome.  

How many of us can honestly say that we freely bring all our needs and deepest desires to God when we pray? How many of us can say that we pray without ceasing and don’t lose hope when it seems God forgot to give us what we wanted? My guess is not many of us. Most of us pray because, as good Christians, we are supposed to pray. We love God and want to spend time with Him, but we become blind to just how much we depend on Him, and so our prayers become small—simple platitudes meant to let God know that we are thinking about Him without ever getting to the depths, desires, and needs of our hearts. 

And yet, the depths, desires, and needs of our hearts are precisely what the Lord wants us to bring Him in prayer. He implores us to never stop asking for what we need.  

In Luke 18:1–8, this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus told His disciples about a judge who neither feared God nor had regard for man. A widow in his town kept asking him to vindicate her against her adversary. The judge refused to vindicate the widow, but she would not stop asking him. Finally, completely worn down, the judge granted her justice. Jesus then told the disciples that if a man who is not even good will give in to the requests of someone who is persistent, God, who is all goodness, will answer those He loves who cry out to Him day and night.

What is it that made the widow so persistent? She didn’t have any other options. In the Bible, widows were considered some of the poorest and neediest members of society (see Psalm 68:5 and James 1:27). This widow was acutely aware of her poverty. She knew her only hope was the judge’s consent to act on her behalf. It was this hope that drove her never to stop asking him, and it was her persistence that forced the judge to relent finally. 

Sisters, we are like the widow. Whether or not we acknowledge it, we approach the throne of God with nothing to offer. Yes, we may have many things, options, and privileges in this life, but if those things fell away, we would quickly see that, like the widow, we are poor and needy. God is our only hope when it comes to every single thing in our lives that matters.

And God is not like the unrighteous judge. He is good, faithful, and perfect. He knew exactly who you were as you formed in your mother’s womb before your mother even knew you were there. His love runs so deep for you that He defeated death so that He could bring you back into His family. And so, how much more does He want you to come to Him with every need and longing in your heart no matter how impossible, silly, or petty you think it is. 

Jesus said this very thing to St. Faustina as she wrote in her diary, 

"My daughter…why do you not tell me about everything that concerns you, even the smallest details? Tell Me about everything, and know that this will give Me great joy." I answered, "But You know about everything, Lord." And Jesus replied to me, "Yes I do know; but you should not excuse yourself with the fact that I know, but with childlike simplicity talk to Me about everything, for my ears and heart are inclined towards you, and your words are dear to Me."[1]

And so, I invite you to increase the boldness and frequency of your prayers. Tell Him everything. Ask Him for everything. This isn’t easy. Prayer is hard work, and the more you pray, the more you must trust God with what you give Him. And if God does not seem to answer your prayers, look for the evidence that He is moving in a way you don’t expect. He is not a vending machine, but rather a good Father who uses every situation to bring about your holiness and His glory. 

Jesus ended the story of the widow and the judge by asking, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Let Him find it in you. Let Him hear the bold persistence of your prayers and see in you someone who trusts Him enough to always be asking Him for everything you need. 

Food for thought or journaling…

  1. What keeps me from being persistent in prayer? What causes me to lose hope in my prayer?
  2. Do I believe that God is better, more present, and more responsive to me than the average person in my life? Why or why not? 
  3. What are some of the desires of my heart that I have held back from God? Why have I held them back?

Bring those desires to the Lord now…

Dear Lord, I have held these desires and prayers from You. [Name them.] I bring them to You now, trusting that You want me to bring them to You often and that You care enough about them to answer them in a way that brings about my holiness and Your glory. Amen

[1] Saint Maria Faustina Kolwaska. Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul (Massachusetts: Marian Press, 1981).

 

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