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Unanswered Prayers

Fr. Victor

"There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city, and she came unto him, saying, 'Avenge me of mine adversary.' And he would not for a while, but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'"

Oftentimes we can be tempted to think that God does not hear our prayers. God knows that; that’s why he gave us today’s parable. It’s not one of those parables, however, where one character in the parable represents another person in reality. The angry judge certainly does not represent God. That’s the point. There could not be a greater difference between the angry judge and an all-loving God. The judge was finally moved to assist the poor widow only because it was the one way he could get her to stop bothering him.

God is not bothered by our speaking to him. St. Theresa of Avila once said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of him.” And according to St. John Chrysostom, the only thing that really bothers our Lord is when we don’t pray, when we don’t pester him with our requests. This makes perfect sense, when you think about it. Because when we don’t pray, we are telling God by our silence, “I don’t need you,” or “I don’t trust you,” or “I don’t love you.”

In the thirteenth chapter of the book of Job, Job, that patron of perseverance, cries out to the Lord, “Though he should kill me, I will trust in him.” Faith and perseverance are relatively easy when we get what we want from God, when all is going well. But when life seems to be just one trial after another, when we are tempted to think that maybe God does not listen to our prayers, especially then do we need to recall this parable and those words of Job: “Though he should kill me, I will trust in him.” Though, because I fail to see the wisdom of Divine Providence, God seems more like a stingy judge than a loving Father, even then will I trust in him.

Someday we will see that God hears our prayers in a way which is far better than what we can now imagine. In fact, we might unknowingly be asking all along for something which in the long run will ruin us. Our heavenly Father then, in his great mercy and wisdom, denies us what we think we need, and grants us what we truly need. As an old country song says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” Let us never cease to pester God with our prayers, and he will never cease to bless us with his love and mercy. Amen.

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