Lectio Divina for October 20

The value of persistent prayer is not that God will finally hear us but that we will finally hear God.


Luke 18: 1-8: The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

 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?”

Commentary: This is the first of two parables that Jesus tells in Luke 18 about prayer. (The second will be read at Mass next Sunday.) This first parable is a lesson in persistence in prayer. (Next Sunday’s parable will address attitude in prayer.) While the parable seems to present prayer as nagging God for what we want, such a reading misses the point. God is not like the judge in the parable, worn down by requests and coerced to respond. The key is found in the description of the judge as corrupt and unjust. Since God can be neither, we must understand Jesus to be saying that if even an unjust judge responds to the persistence of the widow, how much more so will God listen to our prayers. God truly wants to hear our needs and respond generously. It is the final lament of Jesus that gets to the point of the parable. The lesson is about the persistence of the one who prays. God wants us to be like the persistent widow, staying in relationship with God, confident that God hears and answers prayers. Then Jesus laments, “Will such faith be found when the Son of Man comes?” In this lament, Jesus notes how easy it can be for us to lose heart.


1.  Why are we called to persevere in prayer?

2.  Who are the people that we are called to support in our prayers?

3. Who is a female role model in your life and in what ways is she strong?

See also the Lectio Divina from the American Bible Society for October 20.

Visio Divina

  1. Contemplate this image. What seems to be happening here? What emotions do the three faces convey?
  2. Read the first reading: Exodus 17: 8-13
  3. How successful is the artist in conveying the passage? What has this painting to do with the theme, “persistence in prayer?”
  4. Read the Gospel: Luke 18:1-8.
  5. What is the connection between this Gospel and this painting?
  6. Contemplate the painting again. How is God speaking to you in this work?
  7. What changes would you like to make in your prayer life?

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