Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Importuning Woman

I'm pulling up a post from about eight months ago because I've been thinking about it so much lately and have also been hearing so much about it at Institute and with my roommates.

I feel so strongly about this post and am so grateful for it. It is so incredibly important for us to understand and implement.

I refer to the Parable of the Unjust Judge in the Luke 18:1-5 which is also found in D&C 101:81-89. My brother wrote a small discourse on this parable which I will also include here.

The Parable of the Unjust Judge (The Importuning Woman)
This judge “feareth not man nor God,” yet a woman comes and begs him to avenge her of her adversary. He doesn’t oblige her at first, but then, over time, he “gives in” and gives her what she wants. The scriptures go on to say: "And shall not God aavenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"

I’ve always interpreted this parable to mean that the Lord wants us call on His name repeatedly because somehow it unlocks the powers of heaven and helps Him help us. Or, as Joseph Smith said, “Weary the Lord until He blesses you.” In other words, we weary Him with prayer for his benefit. But Elder Lund in his book “Hearing the Voice of the Lord” points out something different.

First, we know God doesn’t ask us to pray to Him in order for Him to know what we want. He already knows everything. So clearly our pleadings don’t benefit Him that way.

Second, we know God wouldn’t ask us to pray to Him in order to satisfy some petty whim of His. He doesn’t need or want to see us grovel. And He doesn’t want us to jump through theological hoops in order to prove our submissiveness. That is completely counter to His nature. So what, then, is the purpose of this parable?

Well, this parable has another name, which is the “Parable of the Importunate Woman.” (The Savior doesn’t use the word “importunate” here, but He uses it three times in D&C 101:81-89.) Importunate is the opposite of faint. It means “to press or beset with solicitations; demand with urgency or persistence.” Jesus is telling us in this parable that we should importune Him the Lord when we need something. But if importuning isn’t for His benefit, then it must be for ours.

What is it about importuning that’s so significant? When we ask for something we don’t get right away, it causes us to either blame God or blame ourselves. Assuming we don’t blame God, we look within ourselves and start doing a spiritual inventory, right? We check to make sure we’re being righteous enough to deserve the blessing. We pray harder and longer. We serve more. We are kinder to those around us. We visit the temple more frequently. In a word, we further the process of sanctification. In other words, importuning initiates a tremendous process of spiritual growth. The very process of praying, exercising greater faith, humbling ourselves, and finally submitting our will to His becomes spiritually empowering.

We don’t persist in prayer in order to change God’s mind or convince Him of anything. We persist in prayer to change our hearts. We don’t “weary the Lord” with prayer in order to change God’s mind. We weary Him in prayer hard enough and long enough that our own hearts change. We may think we are unlocking the powers of heaven (and perhaps we are to some degree), but it may be that more significant in effectuating blessings is that we have unlocked our own hearts.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ashley,
    I like a statement (I think them comes from the Koran)- "God changes nothing in the circumstances of a person as long as the person in himself nothing changes" or so similarly.

    In D&C the Lord says without knowing we cannot be saved - and I think the most important things we have to know and find out any time is what we really need. Often we know very well what we would have with pleasure (and often it is god for us...) but we don't know often exactly what we really need and what is well for us (well in reflects from the everlasting perspective looked) so we always need a small ray of his light to know what is well for our everlasting life and so we always have to adjust our hart on his light......

    makes that sense?
    I hope me english is enough and you understand what I mean.



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