Prayer and the religious life go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Vitality of one increases the other. We have our own prayer times and routines. We pray for others and ourselves. We pray for health. We pray for wisdom. We say prayers that reflect our thankfulness. We pray for the well being of creation. Again, we pray for these things in the lives of others as well as ourselves. So for Jesus to talk about prayer shouldn’t surprise us. Also for Jesus to connect prayer and faith shouldn’t be that surprising either.
As we look at the headlines of the world, what do we so often see? We see images of refugees fleeing brutal regimes, poverty and war. We see the powerful doing just about what ever they want without being held accountable for their actions. We see the weak so often being used with few coming to their defense. What does a life of prayer have to offer in a world like this?
Jesus is telling of a widow seeking justice from an unresponsive judge. This judge has no respect for anyone, not even God. Concern for the widow has strong support in Scripture and so the judge’s behavior is even all the more shocking. However, the widow will not be denied justice. While the reading describes the judge giving into the widow because of her pestering or bothering him, the meaning is far closer to her giving the judge, ‘a black eye.’ The widow was not passive in seeking justice. She would not be stopped even in the face of an unjust world. The life of prayer isn’t passive either.
The world may be slow to bring justice or even seek it. The message from the reading is that God is very different from this world. God will listen and respond quickly to his chosen ones who cry out day and night. This Jesus connects to his finding faith when he returns. Faith is fully believing that God and his kingdom have a strongly contrasting understanding of justice to the injustice we know full well. Prayer is not a passive but aggressive pursuing of God’s justice to come. Even, if it means giving the injustice of the world ‘a black eye.’ As Jesus taught us all to pray, “…thy kingdom come, thy will be done…”
The life of prayer is a privilege to know that God listens and responds. It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to bare the soul to God and know that we’ll find grace and justice. So take advantage of the life of prayer. When it comes to praying for God’s justice to be known, be like the widow and be unrelenting even to the point of giving the world’s injustice ‘a black eye.’