Have you ever had an interaction with a toddler play out like this?
“Mom, can I have a fruit snack?”
“Well, you already had one this morning, so I’m saying no.”
(1 minute later)
“Mom! Can I have a fruit snack?”
“Honey, did you hear me? I said no.”
(Toddler is getting steamed.)
“MOM! I WANT a fruit snack!”
“Sorry, honey, the answer is no.”
“But MOM! I WANT A FRUIT SNACK!”
*cue mom losing her mind.*
This has been an all-too common scenario in our household—our three-year-old is incredibly persistent. When she wants something, she’s laser-focused on that desire and stops at nothing to accomplish her goal. If something gets in her way (like a mean ol’ mom who is trying to make sure her child consumes a responsible amount of sugar), she will Not. Give. Up.
Her persistence is incredible—and more effective than I would like to admit. There is only so much a human can take before cracking under the pressure, and my darling girl is good at repeating her request with ever-increasing intensity until her frazzled mother gives in! As much as I’d like to be the world’s most consistent parent, I’m not. There are times when, finally, on the 27th repetition of a question, I give in to her request just to make the noise stop!
My stubborn toddler reminded me of the parable of the persistent widow as found in Luke chapter 18:
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” (verses 1-5)
I always smile wryly when reading this account. The only tool that the widow had in her toolbox was persistence, and she used it! She did not have the power to gain justice on her own but kept badgering that villainous judge until he finally cracked.
This parable shows that if ungodly people eventually give justice in the face of incessant requests, God is certainly listening to us, his beloved children, when we cry out in prayer. He always hears us and answers us according to his just will. If God loves us enough to send his perfect Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sins, he will certainly give us what we need.
Does this mean that if we nag God 27 times, he’ll finally give in to us?!
God’s will is flawless, and he works out his will on his timetable, not ours. He’s not a genie who will grant our wish for a Lamborghini if we just ask enough times. He never cracks under pressure. If we ask for something contrary to God’s will, he will deny our request. If we ask for something that aligns with his will, he answers us with a yes. Oftentimes, he answers our prayers with “wait”—and waiting is hard! Even if the answer to your plea is “wait,” be persistent in prayer.
Our Savior loves us and wants us to spend time with him in prayer; never give up talking to your heavenly Father. As it says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” What a blessing to be heard and understood by the Creator of the universe!
So much in life is beyond our control, but nothing is beyond the control of our powerful God. In many situations, the only tool at our disposal is prayer—so use it! James says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:16), so when you find yourself in a tough spot, remember my toddler and the persistent widow and do Not. Give. Up!