Two black eyes and a leaky bucket!

13 10 2011

Most people at some time or another pray.  The remarkable thing is not that most people pray, but that some people keep at it.  Why?  Why does anyone keep praying when there’s often so little to show for it? 

“Prayer is a leaky bucket,” writes Eugene Peterson. “You go to the river to get a pail of water and by the time you get home the water is gone, the bucket empty, and all there is left to show for your effort is a damp trail soon to be wiped out by the sun.” 

Does that ring any bells?

Jesus obviously thought that persistence in prayer was something that his followers would struggle with and so he tells the story of the widow with ultimate pester power (Luke 18:1-8).  She nagged and badgered until she got justice from the judge.

The judge is an unsavoury character but in the end the threat of two black eyes forces him to give the widow the justice she demanded. (I’m not great in the Greek department, but apparently “wearing me out” in verse 5 translates as “beating me black and blue”.)

So what’s all this about?  Here are a few thoughts –

  • God’s silence is a common experience for all who pray
  • People who pray ask, “Why?” and “How long?” a lot (check out the Psalms for evidence of this)
  • I don’t know the whole story of my life
  • Persistent prayer is not about my stubborn willfulness trying to bend God’s ear…
  • It is about relationship, a trust that God is good and has my best interests at heart

Is this enough to encourage me to keep praying, to not give up, to not lose heart?  Will Jesus find faith when he comes to visit me?

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