It’s clear that, as a wise Father who for our good thinks in ways far beyond our ability, our God has every right and responsibility to say “Yes,” “No,” or “Not Yet.”
But how, as we live with unanswered requests, can we express our hearts to God in a way that doesn’t sound like a broken record– trying to wear him down?
Often think about the Roman military officer who asked Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus said he would go to the man’s home to do it, the officer stopped him and said he wasn’t worthy for Jesus to enter his home. Instead the man said he understood authority, knew Jesus had it, and asked him to “just give the word.” Jesus said he hadn’t found this much faith in all of Israel (Matthew 8:5-10).
On the other hand the Scriptures urge us to keep asking. A couple of these encouragements to endure in prayer teach by contrast. They speak of a neighbor who doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to answer a door, and a judge who doesn’t want to be bothered, but who both give in to relentless requests for help (Luke 11:5-9; 18:1-6). The implication is not that we can wear God down with prayer, but that if unloving people can be persuaded to do good to us, how much more will our Father in heaven be willing to help us.
Since our Lord said his purpose in giving us such examples are to encourage us “always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1) am thinking again about how I handle waiting on God. Am I trying to express the honest desires of my heart in a way that expresses faith in his wisdom, authority and power? Or do I just keep pounding on the door of heaven- like someone who won’t take no, or not yet, for an answer.
What do you think? Is there a way to be like the Roman Officer, rather than like those who were asking help of a reluctant neighbor, or an uncaring judge?