Never give up! That is what Jesus says to us in a parable he told his disciples, “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Jesus knew when we face discouragement, we confront the possibility of seeing our faith fail. Discouragement, when we give in to it, causes us to stop trusting and believing God is right here with us. It also causes us to doubt whether he is in charge and whether or not we will be able to overcome our adversity.
The parable is meant to help us understand prayer and what is really happening when we pray. In the parable there is widow who is in dire need. Her only option is to rigorously pursue a wicked judge for justice in her case. The contrast between this wicked judge and our good God couldn’t be greater. God is everything this judge is not. God is loving, kind and just. While this wicked judge put the woman off, God does not ignore us. This is what the scriptures say about God: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
Unlike the troubled widow, we know God hears us and will immediately respond as Jesus says, “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:8). In the parable the woman has no clout and is at the mercy of the arrogant judge. But we who are God’s chosen ones receive a response from a merciful God who is always just. But what about the silence when our prayers are not answered?
Sometimes the silence means that God's answer is a loving no. God sometimes says no for our own good. This is exactly what happened in Paul’s case when he asked for the removal of his thorn. He learned that God's grace was ever sufficient and that he was better off with the thorn.
The most important decision we make each day is whether or not we will completely depend on God.
When there is only silence, he is not ignoring us. Sometimes the prayer is delayed and other times God is granting the request, but we cannot see the results yet.
Daniel was told by Gabriel the angel that, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given” (Daniel 9:23). Later, he was told by the Lord himself “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Daniel 10:12-13).
When the supernatural curtain is rolled back as it is here in the book of Daniel, we see there are many different things happening beyond our human understanding. What we can be sure of is that God loves us and is responding to our prayers, so we should never give up regardless of what we can see.