"Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).
SOMETIMES WHEN GOD APPEARS UNWILLING TO GRANT OUR REQUESTS, THE RESULT IS THAT WE ARE LED TO SEEK HIM MORE FERVENTLY. When our prayers are not instantly answered, we should not jump to foolish conclusions about God Himself. It may be that He is waiting for us to find out, by our continual prayer, just how deep our desires really are. Our prayers may be answered much later than we had hoped -- and in ways much better than we had imagined. When that happens, we're able to enjoy a deeper appreciation of God's goodness.
In Luke 18, Jesus told His disciples the story of a widow who refused to give up when a judge did not grant her petition for help, but continued to plead until finally the judge answered her request. Jesus' point was that we "always ought to pray and not to lose heart" (v.1). The desired answer to our prayers may not be immediately forthcoming, but we should not suppose that God doesn't hear or that He doesn't care. His delay may actually mean that He cares more than we think. It is His wisdom, no doubt, that prevents Him from rushing into quick fixes to our problems when they need a more long-lasting solution. In any event, Jesus assured us that God's ears are open to those "who cry out day and night to Him," even though "He bears long with them" (v.7). From us, God is looking for persistent faith and persistent prayer.
In one of his well-known metaphors, Spurgeon said, "The spade of agony digs deep trenches to hold the water of life." It is a fact that our hearts often need to be prepared before God can bless us. We have too little grasp of mercy's value, and we need to be taught truly to enjoy the good things God is able to do.
So hunger is not always a bad thing. There is an old saying that "hunger is the best sauce." And Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Perhaps our hunger needs to grow more intense before we can properly appreciate the feast. If so, God may withhold the feast until we are ready.
"Standing outside mercy's gate, we grow more passionately earnest in our pleading. First we ask, then we seek, and finally we plead with cries, tears, and a broken heart" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon).