I hope you can forgive my attempt at throwback slang. I should know better. It’s not even Thursday! Nevertheless…
Over the years, I’ve noticed the different ways children approach their parents to make their requests known.
When a child believes they already know the answer is “no,” they come with low expectation, high attitude. Foot out, hand on hip, lips poked out in pre-pout.
When they anticipate getting a “yes,” they come with high expectation, low patience. They rush the question. The words sound like one long multi syllable: Mom-can-I-go-to-the-mall-Tracy’s-mom-said-yes-and-she’ll-bring-me-home-later-and…
Obviously, they’re only asking out of formality. Anticipating a yes, they’re already running in the direction of the ‘thing’ before the parent can answer. Should Mom interrupt with a follow-up question or instruction, there’s a struggle to hide their impatience. Just get to the yes, Mom!
But what about when the answer is up for grabs?
The child may be thinking:
There was that day last week when I got home late. Is Mom over it? I cleaned up yesterday, but she had to tell me twice. She knows this friend, but isn’t really crazy about her. The party is nearby, but there’ll be boys there. I’m just not sure.
As a result, this child approaches more tentatively. Voice higher and softer than normal, body posture lower and more loving. The request may even begin with a compliment, as they’re ever-ready to sway the decision. And if nothing else works, many often shift to tears or begging.
Sound familiar? No, I don’t mean with your own children, nieces and nephews. I’m referring to your prayer life. Sometimes these tactics, unfortunately, resemble mine.
Depending upon the weight of my request, I may come with high expectation, low patience. Just do it now, God. This is easy!
Or, low expectation, high attitude. My emotions are all over the place because He may say no, or not now. Buggin out.
Then there are those times where I’m not ready to accept no. I don’t do this as much as I used to, but it creeps up different ways now. Rather than begging God outright, I discuss my deepest desires ad nauseam with my friends. I know He hears me, but technically I’m not praying at that point. I’m just talking to my friend. That doesn’t count, right?
The sly approach never worked with my mother, and it won’t work with God. If I asked my mother’s permission with an audience, it was nearly a guaranteed no. Her way of training me away from attempted manipulation. Similarly, God raised me in His word and has expectations based on what He knows I know.
As a mature believer, my goal is to come to him, confident every time. Expecting that His answer is best, no matter where it falls on my scale of desired responses. High expectation and faith, low emotion. Solid, because of a firm foundation and wholehearted trust.
So next time I’m tempted to throw a tantrum, I’m going to look in the mirror and ask myself, Why you buggin’?
What about you?