Prayer as Protest

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus tells this story: A widow: without advocate, without protector, abandoned and abused, cried out through the teeth of outrage, refusing to subside quietly, cowed by an unjust judge’s contempt. Certain that his position of privilege would insulate him from her insistent demands for justice, he tried to break her with sneering silence. Only, life bursts forth from broken things: broken fields receive seed with grace, sprout and root erupt from broken seeds, broken clouds burst forth with rain.

Two laws are at war for dominance in our hearts: one the trellis for the climbing rose of mercy, the other the trickling vine that chokes and enforces a thorny wreath of oppression in order’s name, disrespectful, arrogant before God. Too often we see human law serve as a shield for predation, substituting punishment rather than justice. God calls us to resist systems that coerce rather than empower.

Too often when confronted with oppression and injustice, we ask why God allows such things to happen. What if we saw the persistent widow as God, and the unjust judge as human society? Think about it. Because prayer is a conversation between us and God, that reversal also works, and teaches us a lesson about prayer as a two-way conversation with God.

The gospel reminds us, prayer is a way to enter into the presence of God, to be surrounded by the presence of God. This is the kind of immediate experience needed to maintain faith, more than anything else, so that when Jesus returns, faith will be found on the earth. Jesus urges us to be persistent in prayer, but that doesn’t mean for us to passively accede to injustice. So let us pray unceasingly, with unfaltering faith—prayer as action, prayer as persistence, listening to God’s call for us to stand with the powerless, to protest with the voiceless, and to align ourselves with the law of love. 

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