When the Son of Man comes, how many will he find on the earth who have faith? Luke 18:8 NLT
I confess that I have always been troubled by the parable that precedes the verse printed above. It suggests that God will not do what we want him to do (or perhaps even what he ought to do?!) unless we essentially force him with a barrage of words. The fine Christian writer P. T. Forsyth even has a book in which he says God will only do the right thing when we wrestle him into it. With all due respect, I do not believe that. Part of the reason I do not is because of what Jesus says elsewhere when he condemns pagans who multiply their words because they think that if they use enough they will be heard.
So what is Jesus talking about? I think the clue is in the verse printed above. This story is not so much to promote persistent praying as it is to promote persistent faith. Now persistent faith will result in persistent praying – don’t misunderstand me. But it is steady unremitting faith in God that is the issue. Will my – your – faith in Jesus persist when it seems like our prayers aren’t being answered? Will it persist even when we see genuine Christian faith in free fall in the West today. Will we keep praying for the lost when it seems that Generation Z is leaving God in droves?
Why is Europe, the cradle of Christian faith, largely godless today? Because Christian people did not have persistent faith. Two World Wars have seemed to prove to them that God does not answer prayer and so they have given up their faith (and their praying). So, this parable is not designed to keep us “storming heaven” for some request we have, confident that someday we are going to wear down God’s resistance and make him give us what we want. Rather, it is to address a much deeper issue. Will we keep on believing in God regardless of whether he does or does not answer our specific prayers. My answer is “Yes!” When Jesus comes, I want to be found believing.