So, according to Jesus, the key to getting God to give us what we want is constant Nagging? He politely calls it “praying without ceasing,” but the parable he tells clearly indicates that God will relent to our demands only if we nag Him into submission. This sounds absurd – and it is – but it's the lesson too many take from the story of the Persistent Widow. So, why is this reading of the parable absurd? It presupposes that we can change God's mind. It presupposes that anything we can do or say has some effect on God's will. If I pray enough, fast enough, give enough money to the Church, God will say, “Fine! Have it your way!” and alter His plan for the universe. Now, we may not think about prayer in these exact terms, but I'm will to bet that many of us live as though prayer works exactly this way. We pray as though we do not have all that we need to flourish and pester God relentlessly to give us what we think we need. But here's the problem with that practice: we don't know what we need b/c we don't know what God has in store for us. Sure, we know generally that He has only good things planned for us, but are we capable of seeing those good things as good things? If not, then we can spend a lot of time asking for things that go against His will for us. Rather than ask for particular gifts, we should follow the Widow's example and persistently ask instead for the strength and courage to see God's will at work. Rather than ask for specific gifts, we should persistently pray to receive whatever it is that God has willed for us from all eternity. Rather than foolishly assume that we fully understand the arc of the divine will in history, we should cooperate with the Father's will and make ourselves into finely tuned receivers for all He sends our way. Jesus tells us not to pray like the pagans do. How did they pray? They treated their gods like super powerful humans who needed persuading with bribes of sacrifice and gold; promises of service; and magical rites. They made deals with the gods for favors. They tried to force the gods into doing their will. Our pray to the Father is nothing like this. Our pray is: Lord, I receive your will so that I may do your will. You have no need of my thanks, but You give me the desire to give you thanks and praise so that I may draw closer to You. Perfect in me what is imperfect. Finely tune the gifts I have received from You. Make me persistent.