Airports regularly receive complaints about the noise of air traffic in neighboring communities.
This year, Washington’s Reagan National Airport received a whopping 8,670 complaints. The impressive part, however, is that 6,500 of them came from one person. Yes, that’s right, one person complained to the airport an average of 18 times a day for the entire year.
Regardless of the absurdity, however, airport authorities have responded, saying that they are now working with residents to “address the noise.”
I guess you could say that for this guy persistence paid off. I bet the airport was annoyed, but they eventually relented.
That sure sounds like something Jesus would say. Oh, wait a minute, how about that parable about the persistent widow in Luke 18? “I tell you,” Jesus said, “he will see that they (his chosen people who plead with him day and night) get justice, and quickly.”
Persistent prayer pays off. I know that I have written on this subject recently, but just a few days ago, something happened to drive the point home in a new way. I was talking with my son-in-law about his schedule, and he was lamenting the fact that he has just taken a new job which has required him to travel a fair amount of the time — about two weeks out of every month.
He related that one of the most regrettable aspects about the travel was that it mandated that he miss a good portion of his son’s football practices. Now understand, his son is 7 years old and is playing in the community “peewee” football league. Our grandson, Nate, enjoys playing the game, and, prior to the acquiring of this new job, his dad was his coach.
Our son-in-law coach was regretting the fact that he could no longer be a part of the weekly practice sessions, although he could participate in the games.
But he proudly spoke of Nate’s tenacity in playing the game. Especially how he goes to practice and takes to heart all that the coaches are telling him to do.
One of the drills they work on is blocking and tackling. One particular night, Nate was having some difficulty in this area. The fellow he was trying to get through was much larger than he was. He tried once to take him down and failed. He tried a second time to take him down and failed again. He tried a third time to take the fellow down, and this time he won!
Later, he told his dad that he had prayed to Jesus each time that he would be able to take this fellow down and on the third time it worked. That little fellow is now convinced more than ever that not only does God answer prayer, he answers persistent prayer. He knows how important it is to not give up and to keep on praying.
Sadly, I believe, that lesson is far too often forgotten as we grow older. We forget that God is not on the same time schedule as we are. What we consider to be an emergency, God considers routine. What we think is a rush job, God treats patiently and thoroughly. We get upset because God does not answer our prayers on our schedule, in the way we want Him to, and in our time frame. And we sometimes even walk away from Him, suggesting or even saying that God does not answer prayer.
The parable of the unjust judge, perhaps better titled the parable of the persistent widow, found in Luke 18:1-8, is a great illustration of the beauty of persistent prayer. A widow came to a judge in her town repeatedly asking him to deal with a person who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for as long as he could, but eventually heard her out and gave her the justice she was seeking, simply because she was wearing him out with her constant requests.
Jesus, in telling this story, says, “If an evil judge can render a just decision, don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!”
Then, Jesus drives his point home by saying, “But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?”
Jesus is simply asking how many will continue to believe in the power of answered prayer even though the answer does not come when they think it should or in the way it should.
There is a short poem that expresses this sentiment oh so well:
When the request is not right, God says “no.”
When you are not right, God says “grow.”
When the time is not right, God says “go slow.”
But when everything is right, God says “go, man, go!”
My seven-year-old grandson is now fully aware that God answers prayer. He was able to pancake the fellow on the other side of the line of scrimmage that day, and now he prays before every play.
How about you? Do you pray before every play, no matter what the answer, no matter what the situation? I hope so.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro.