Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.'There was a judge in a certain town,' he said, 'who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone. In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, "I want justice from you against my enemy!" For a long time he refused, but at last he said to him self, "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person, I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face."' And the Lord said, 'You notice what the unjust judge has to say?Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?' Lk 18:1-8
Prayer as a source of mercy
Luke 18:1-8 contains an important teaching: we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (v. 1). This means, then, pray constantly, not just when I feel like it. No, Jesus says that we ought “always to pray and not lose heart”...
From this parable Jesus draws two conclusions: if the widow could manage to bend the dishonest judge with her incessant requests, how much more will God, who is the good and just Father, “vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night”; moreover, will not “delay long over them”, but will act “speedily” (vv. 7-8).
That is why Jesus urges us to pray and “not to lose heart”. We all go through times of tiredness and discouragement, especially when our prayers seem ineffective. But Jesus assures us: unlike the dishonest judge, God promptly answers his children, even though this doesn’t mean he will necessarily do it when and how we would like. Prayer does not work like a magic wand! It helps us keep faith in God, and to entrust ourselves to him even when we do not understand his will. In this, Jesus himself — who prayed constantly! — is our model.
The parable ends with a question: “when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (v. 8). And with this question we are all warned: we must not cease to pray, even if left unanswered. It is prayer that conserves the faith, with out it faith falters! Let us ask the Lord for a faith that is incessant prayer, persevering, like that of the widow in the parable, a faith that nourishes our desire for his coming. And in prayer let us experience that compassion of God, who like a Father comes to encounter his children, full of merciful love.
~POPE FRANCIS - General Audience, St Peter's Square - Wednesday, 25 May 2016