“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him 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.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” (Luke 18:1-8)  I love this little parable.  I love it for the hope it instills and I love it for its humor. (The judge’s complaint of being worn out is literally a boxing allusion: this woman keeps punching me in the face!)   Perhaps persistence in prayer is something that is so important that Jesus does something unusual here.  He directly tells us why a story is told and at the end, why he told it.  The introduction also assumes that prayer is not answered in our time but in God’s.  Therefore, the parable is a call to us to be persistent and not to lose heart.  We should not be surprised that we are encouraged to be determined.  After all, Luke has already shown us in chapter 15 a shepherd who keeps searching for a errant sheep, a woman who turns her house inside out in order to find a coin and a Father who never stops watching the road to see if a wayward son is finally returning.  In the end, you and I can be persistent because of the persistent (and dare we say relentless) love of a Lord who never gives up on us.  Are there situations in your life in which you have been tempted to give up?  Are there people in your life with whom you have quit?  Do not despair, do not lose heart, God will answer in his time, in his way.  Have a great week!