Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Here are three things from this parable that tells us what importune prayer is:
1. Importune prayer is never discouraged. Verse one begins by telling us what this parable teaches: “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” This was the attitude of the widow in the parable; thus, with this attitude she kept coming back to the judge. She did not get discouraged when the judge at first denied her. No, she kept coming back with renewed energy; and the judge was the one who got weary! Importune prayer then is prayer that has strength of heart; it never faints, never grows weary, and never gets discouraged.
2. Importune prayer is prayer that would wear out and trouble any person of this earth. Here we see that the woman was so persistent that she troubled and wore out the judge by her continual coming and asking. Now I don’t believe that our objective in prayer is to wear out God or to trouble Him. That would be impossible. But nevertheless, this is what importune prayer is; it is a prayer that would trouble any person on this earth—as it did the judge. But even though God is not going to be troubled by our persistent prayer, He always knows our heart, recognizes our need, and is touched by our persistence. For that reason, He will give us what we ask for even more speedily than the judge gave to the woman. For if the cruel and unrighteous judge gave justice to the strange widow who was persistent in her asking, God who is fair and righteous will surely give us, who are His children, what we ask for when we pray with importunity, and even more speedily (v. 8).
3. Importune prayer is prayer at all times, even in difficult times. Just before Jesus gave this parable He was talking to his disciples about the last days and about living in a time of great difficulty. I believe these are the last days (the age of the church), and so this parable is directed at us, that we ought to pray at all times, “day and night” (v. 7). This of course means that we should pray for urgent things over and over again, but I think that Jesus also means that our heart should be continually lifted up to God. Hence I believe that importune prayer is prayer without words, prayer of the mind, or having a mind that is always set on things above (Col. 3:2).