“Please, please, please, please, PLEASE!”
I startled myself. It was Sunday afternoon, and I was taking a leisurely walk through my neighborhood. I had been praying about a situation that’s been heavy on my heart, but I was finding it hard to find words. Until my voice rose on the last please, I didn’t even notice I had been praying out loud. The sound of my inarticulate begging embarrassed me.
“Please, please, please, please, PLEASE!” hardly seems like a worthy prayer. But that’s all that came out. Before I could apologize to God and try to pray a more appropriate prayer, however, He brought a Scripture passage to mind.
“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:5-10, NLT).
God seemed to be telling me that He values “shameless persistence.” Sometimes it’s the repeated knocking that is more important than the words that make up my prayer.
As I’ve pondered this over the past couple of days, the Holy Spirit has confirmed God’s message with other passages. Luke 18, for example, where Jesus tells about the widow who continually pestered an unjust judge until finally he gave in to her because “she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (verse 5).
And Matthew 15, where the Gentile woman kept crying out to Jesus for help for her demonized daughter. First Jesus pretended to ignore her. Then His disciples urged Jesus to send her away: “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Eventually Jesus spoke to her—but He was not encouraging: “I was only sent to help Jews.” Still refusing to be turned away, the woman continued to plead: “Lord, help me!” Jesus still seemed to rebuff her: “It’s not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” Even then, the woman would not give up. “Then give me some crumbs,” she says. Finally, Jesus can’t put her off any longer. “Dear woman, your faith is great!” And He immediately gave her the help she needed (Matthew 15:21-28).
So what’s God saying to me about these “please, please, please” sorts of prayers? I think God is telling me that what I considered to be a pathetic excuse for intercession was actually a prayer that pleases Him. What to me seemed like inarticulate nagging or begging, to Him represented faith. He likes “shameless persistence.” He values “constant requests.” He appreciates the person who refuses to give up.
So Lord, please, please, please, please, PLEASE give me that kind of faith!