Jesus told them a parable: “In that city there was a widow who kept coming to [the unjust judge] and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” - Luke 18:3-5 (NRSV)
The people came to Jesus to ask why their prayers for justice hadn’t been answered. He told them this parable: To get what you want, annoy God until she caves. Wear her down until she gives you what you want just to shut you up.
This is my nine-year-old’s primary strategy for achieving his goals, so I feel for God and the judge in this scenario. But it’s hard to know what to think about the possibility that God experiences our earnest prayers and regular worship as annoying. For so long, we’ve been telling ourselves that prayers rise to God like incense, unfurl before her like banners caught high in the morning breeze.
What if instead it’s all been just one centuries-long “PleeeEEEeeeEEEeeeaaase”? What if all this time God’s been muttering through clenched teeth, “Oh my Self, I wish they would just shut up”?
On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to think we might have that kind of influence on God, that there is in fact a thing that will finally move the Unmoved Mover. Little kids whine because it’s often the only leverage they have; maybe the prayers of us insignificant humans work the same way on the Almighty.
Maybe our prayers are annoying to God; maybe they’re not. But let’s keep praying, everybody. I think she’s going to crack any time now.
Please…please…please…please? Please? PLEASE? PLEASE? Pleeeeeeeaaaase? Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.