My son was supposed to have been born on September 27, 1998. But that day came and went. As the nurses were monitoring him every couple days after his due date, I remember my doctor saying, “We see the package and it looks fine.” Then he laughed and said, “When he’s being delivered, you’ll know.”
As my son grew, I would pray for the bumps and bruises he’d encounter. In the fourth grade, he began having problems in math. I prayed for him to succeed and not fail. By the end of the fourth grade, he had improved a lot. When that year’s report card came in the mail, I held the evidence of answered prayer in my hands (he earned a B!).
When we pray, there is sometimes a temptation to believe that God the Father is like the unjust judge in Luke 18. In Andrew’s book, A Better Way to Pray, he uses this example. When we see God this way, we are believing that we have to be persistent—as if we are wrestling an answer away from Him that He doesn’t want to give. And if we “trouble” Him enough, He’ll “avenge” (answer) us, just to get us off His back (Luke 18:5).
As Andrew says, “That’s not what this passage is saying. God is not like the unjust judge” (pp. 67-68). Andrew explains how Jesus uses this example because He is pointing out a wrong attitude about prayer. “This parable is a contrast showing us the absurdity of such thinking.” Then Andrew says that in Luke 18:8, Jesus basically straightens them out: “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily [meaning when His children pray] . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (brackets added). In other words, the delay is connected to our lack of faith. It never comes from the Father who answered all things in His Son on the cross in anticipation of our needs—over 2,000 years ago!
Andrew explains that if you see God as an unjust judge when you pray, “…you’re approaching God in an adversarial relationship…and believing what Christ did wasn’t enough” (p. 70). Wow! You might just have to let that sink in. How can you and I pray in faith while seeing Him that way?
Imagine that you call your sister and tell her you are leaving the post office, and you had just mailed her a gift. Then an hour goes by, and she calls you up, crying, “You lied! I went to the mailbox and it wasn’t there.” What would you think? Would you be angry? Then she calls you the next afternoon, but this time she’s angry. “I just went for the mail and the package is still not there! Are you sure you really mailed it?”
This is how we sometimes act toward God when His promises don’t show up right away. I know our Father is not angry with us when we do not understand Him or the wonderful gift He’s given us in prayer. In fact, because of what Jesus did for us, He invites us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
If you’ve ever been unsure about how God responds when you pray, Andrew’s book A Better Way to Pray can help you grow in confidence toward Him. It’s available in CD, DVD, book, and study guide formats. It’s available in Spanish as well. I also encourage you to watch Andrew as he teaches A Better Way to Pray on the Gospel Truth broadcasts.
If this has blessed you, post a comment below.