I have never read a book on how to develop begging in children. Dependent and insistent. I don’t know anyone who appreciates that. We are all about fostering independence, competence, self reliance. Givers, not takers. My kids ask for something twice and I get cross with them and emphatically inform the child I’ve heard them already, and will let them know when I’ve changed my mind.
God is quite upside down in this way. He requests that his children ask him, and keep asking. There are places in the Bible where God answered someone’s prayer as they sobbed and ripped their clothes in sheer panicked grief. We are encouraged to pray constantly, fervently, sometimes through the night in a sloppy mess of tears, but to never stop.
I prefer easy. Not the difficult task of staying the course, hearing my children out as they continue, through broken hearts, to repeat the same story, the same request, the same anger.
God invites the tirade. He prefers to hear his children ask him for help all day long, no matter the tone.
For 20 some years now, a few girlfriends and I have had phone prayers. One of us will call the other. Sometimes we pray when nothing much is the matter. There have been prayers interrupted by screaming kids. Prayers during dinner prep. Prayers from an airport, from a Dr’s office. Some have been texted, emailed, or left on voice mail. Sometimes we burst out laughing in the middle of a prayer, thinking of what we’ve just asked God for.
The thing about prayer is that it calls us each to honesty with not only God but each other, no matter the disaster or shame of the thing, regardless of our wish to be the put-together one this time. How often have we said to each other “I wonder if we would still be here if it weren’t for the prayers we’ve prayed”.
We’ve prayed when our anger has caused pain to the other. Prayers about bills, dinner plans we can’t think what in the world to make. Asking God to give us a desire to make dinner at all, as the depression has gotten so bad. Weight that can’t be lost, quilt still undone, a marriage hanging by a thread, prayers for keys lost, prayers that rip our hearts in half as we know what we prayed for so long, on knees, faces streaked with tears, that will never come to be due to the choice of someone else. That’s the hardest part. When my prayer is answered and her answer is “no”. So we pray on, bothering God incessantly, because that’s what He wants, and because it keeps us sane while the roller-coaster of life continues.
I find God to be an amazing parent. He asks for the good, the bad, the ugly. He requests we bug him non-ending; he listens, and makes all things right, one way or another. I’m thinking I need to foster this begging dependence in my kids – towards God. I want to show them through my attentiveness and patience that they can come to me every-time they need to. I want to learn to listen well.. if I could just focus in on what they have been saying for the last half hour, now at a pitch that is hurting my head!! I prefer God’s upside down ways to my typical rigid indifference. A better fit to the upside down life that is ours.
Which of you if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? … If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9 and 11.