Every so often when I’m really struggling as a parent, I wonder how God must view me. Do I ever act toward God the Father the way my kids act toward me? Most definitely.
Recently Monkey had a particularly rough day. If she was upstairs, she’d cry about wanting to be downstairs. So we’d go downstairs and then she’d cry about wanting to go upstairs. Finally, I just picked a floor and stuck with it. Naturally, she’d cry about wanting to be on whichever floor we weren’t on. She’d ask to go downstairs and I’d tell her no. Then she would fall into a puddle of tears and tantums on the floor. She’d pull herself together and then ask again, “Mama, can I go downstairs? Pwease?” Same answer from me, same reaction. Over and over and over.
But how often do I do that same thing in prayer? A lot. “Hey, God, I’d really love X” – whether X is a new shirt, a placement for next year’s campus, free time that I don’t have, whatever – and He’d say no, or at least not yet. I then fall into a puddle, a hot sobbing mess. I pull myself together and ask again, nicer, sweeter, perhaps with an extra please thrown in for good measure. “Hey, God, I’d still really, really love X, pretty please.” Same answer from Him, same reaction from me. I’m hoping, however foolish it might seem, that a day or two has passed and God has changed His mind or that His “not yet” will become “sure, here you go!”
Am I trying to torture my toddler by making her stay on one level of the house instead of endlessly going back and forth? Certainly not. Instead, I’m trying to get her to enjoy what is right in front of her. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and the toys aren’t always better on the opposite floor.
The same can be said of our prayer life. We can ask and ask (and ask, and ask…) something of God. It isn’t that He’s trying to torture us if and when He says ‘no’ or ‘not yet’. Maybe, just maybe, He’s delaying the thing we want because He’s trying to get us to enjoy what is right in front of us. Instead of granting us our every prayer, He’s giving us opportunities to grow in patience, opportunities to appreciate that which we already have. Or, maybe, just maybe, that thing that we want – be it going to another level of the house or getting that job we think would be perfect – isn’t actually going to be good for us in the end. Either way, I’d like to think that I know best when it comes to things with my toddler, so I’ve also got to trust that God knows better when it comes to me, especially when I pray like my toddler behaves.