Author Chuck Swindoll tells a story where he remembers being in line at a grocery store one day, where a mother was in front of him with her child. They were ahead of him in line and the mother was frazzled - trying to get all of the groceries from the cart to the checkout line, while wrestling her young child. If you've ever been there at the checkout line, you know that companies place their products right there - within eye (and hand) level of children. In this case, the child started asking "Mommy, I want some tic-tacs", the request was denied. So the child asked again, "Mommy, I want some tic-tacs", again this was denied. The child persisted, raising his volume each time: "Mommy, I want some TIC-tacs...Mommy, I want some TIC-TACS...Mommy, I WANT SOME TIC-TACS...MOMMY, I WANT SOME TIC-TACS!" At the end of his rant, the mother reluctantly and forcefully grabbed a pack of tic-tacs and added them to her order. This prompted the little boy to kindly say, "Thank you, Mommy".
Maybe you've been that little child - thinking that you want and need something so badly that you're willing to ask and ask and ask and ASK...until you get what you are asking for. In Luke 18, there is a story like that, called "The Parable of the Persistent Widow". This parable was designed to teach the disciples to "always pray and not give up." Jesus told this story about a widow who needed justice against her adversary, so she continued to approach and plead with and pester and beg for this, all while speaking to a judge who Jesus said "neither feared God nor cared about men." But, the widow kept bothering him about this. When you examine this further, this meant that the widow was asking for something so much and so loudly that she was bringing trouble upon the judge - to the point of wearing him out. Finally, this judge said:
"Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!" (Luke 18:4-5).
Jesus was using this story to drive home a point, that when we are being treated unfairly or unjustly, we should be crying to Him day and night. God is not like the unjust judge; He is still looking for us to pray with this kind of tenacity and commitment. As we move closer to That Day when He comes back, will He see us exercising perseverance during a time of spiritual decline? Will He find us continuing to pray and believe in His Power? Will we bombard Him with our requests that come from a place of deep need? Or will we give up because things just aren't going the way we want them to?
I have needs in my life (and I have friends in my life with needs like mine) that I am pleading with God to do something about. There are physical needs and spiritual needs and deep emotional hurts and financial struggles and worries and concerns and challenges in their lives - where people are doing all they can to keep their heads above water. But maybe this parable gives us a different approach to take. The next time you or I face one of those monumental hurdles in our life, maybe we also need to be more persistent and go deeper in prayer with Him.
Sometimes, we can give up praying too soon or we don't pray with enough faith or we just don't want to bother God with our requests. We justify this by thinking He is too busy handling other requests or rationalize that our request isn't important enough for Him to handle. Or, the opposite could be true - maybe we think our problems are even too big for God to handle. If you think any of those are good excuses to not pray, let me tell you something that I know to be true - God is not too busy and nothing is impossible for Him.
After reading this parable during my devotional time this week, I am being challenged to not give up on the things I'm asking God for. I may not get any tic-tac's from it, but I may see Him do something even more incredible. Since He knows what I need before I ask for it anyways, why shouldn't I keep on asking and keep on seeking and keep on knocking on His door for Help?!? What do you need to be praying persistently about this week?