|Sunset from summit of Mt. Lemmon, AZ|
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen oneswho call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:6-8These lines are the conclusion of the parable about the unjust judge who will finally render a just verdict for a widow because she ceaselessly harangues him to do so. Any parent understands this dynamic. Eventually you give in because the child keeps pestering you about something that is not really that important to you but which is very important to the child.
The parable seems to suggest that this is a good way to deal with the Divine One in a quest for justice. Can this be true? Is the Divine One a parent who needs to be pestered into doing what is right and just? This seems counter to our understanding in so many ways. Yet here it is. What are we to make of all this?
First, let's be clear. The Divine One's love and concern for us is not conditioned on our prayers. Praying for divine intervention in our lives is not a way to cause divine intervention to happen. Either there is a divine intervention or there is not but the quantity and quality of our prayer is irrelevant. Otherwise we have substituted our own efforts for grace and reduced the Divine One in some kind of anthropomorphized parent who attends to the "squeaky wheel" and doesn't have time for the others. The Divine One loves each of us fully and completely and desires powerfully that we experience love, mercy, and justice in our lives and our relationships with others.
Faith and prayer is important, not because they have an impact on the Divine One but because they change us. Unceasing prayer and faith in the love and mercy of the Divine One change us and allow us to become more fully incorporated into the interior life of the triune Divinity. Prayer, experiencing the reality of the divine life within each of us, deepens our response to that reality so that our lives become clearer expressions of that life and love in our world. So it may seem that we are "pestering" the Divine One with our prayer but really we are constantly reminding ourselves of our deep and abiding faith.