The parable is about prayer, Jesus explains, and this is where it gets difficult. He compares the unjust judge to God who will "see justice done" for the elect who cry to the Lord day and night. Then, we wonder, how much prayer is enough? Can one only get God's attention by repeatedly offering up the same petition? Is God testing the sincerity of the one praying? Jesus instructs his followers to pray always and not lose heart, surely a robust challenge.
From my own experience I know that my prayers change over time. When I began praying about a certain matter, I thought I knew the solution I wanted God to grant. Continuous prayer about the situation has led me to explore other possible "answers"; but more important, continuous prayer has deepened my relationship with God. And maybe that is the point. Praying always links us to God, and we grow in trust.
Yet, there may be another, better way to regard the parable. Maybe the unjust judge is not the right analogy for God; rather, the importunate widow may be the better characterization. God cries out to us to enact justice. Too often we "neither reverence God nor respect humanity." We are so curved in upon ourselves (Luther's definition of sin) that we ignore injustice all around us. God seeks to pray through us for the common good. True prayer begins with God, and we are wise to listen to the prayer the Spirit is already welling up within us. It is a cry for the reign of God to be realized through our actions. This prayer joins us to God and to others who wait for us to live justly.
Molly T. Marshall
To learn more about a seminary that seeks to practice justice, visit our website http://www.cbts.edu/