My daughter was just a kid when she tried to charm her dad into buying her a trampoline. “I have a great idea, Daddy,” was how such tactical discussions usually started. I was away on business, so he pulled out his well-rehearsed counter-pitch, “Wait till Mom gets home and ask her.”
But this time she was ready for him. “No, Dad,” she replied flatly. “I get better deals out of you.” He was astounded.
She didn’t get a trampoline that day. After all, a dad can’t cave to every pressure move. But six months later, Betsy barreled into the house and gleefully announced, “Guess what Daddy bought you for your birthday! A brand-new trampoline.”
Yes, she eventually found her way to a winning argument, coming at the desire from new angles until she chipped away the resistance.
One might say Betsy was a master at getting what she wanted. She could maneuver around almost any argument, persisting and trying new strategies until her case was won. But to her, this was never an issue of will. From her standpoint, it was simply right that we have a trampoline.
One could say she operated under a precept noted by Mary Baker Eddy: “The right way wins the right of way . . . ” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 232). She didn’t let up on a good idea until life and her parents’ actions corresponded to her expectations.
Why am I telling you this? Because fearless persistence and unflagging insistence win the prize of movement and progress when we pray with a good intent.
Jesus told a little story to teach this lesson:
“Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. . . . I don’t have a thing on hand.’
“The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
“But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.”
Jesus continued, “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.
“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?” (Luke 11:5–13, Eugene Peterson, The Message).
I love the way Mary Baker Eddy describes the confidence, inspiration, and power we need for our prayers. She wrote: “One thing I have greatly desired, and again earnestly request, namely, that Christian Scientists, here and elsewhere, pray daily for themselves; not verbally, nor on bended knee, but mentally, meekly, and importunately.”
She continues: “When a hungry heart petitions the divine Father-Mother God for bread, it is not given a stone,—but more grace, obedience, and love. If this heart, humble and trustful, faithfully asks divine Love to feed it with the bread of heaven, health, holiness, it will be conformed to a fitness to receive the answer to its desire; then will flow into it the ‘river of His pleasure,’ the tributary of divine Love, and great growth in Christian Science will follow,—even that joy which finds one’s own in another’s good” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 127).
My daughter didn’t always get what she wanted, but she often did. If it didn’t come through sheer importunity, then it resulted from changing and adjusting her character so that her demands became more reasonable and worthwhile.
When your hungry heart petitions God for healing, you will not be given a stone. Continue to pray. Watch for the signs of progress—in grace, obedience, and love. See how your prayer fits you to good.
Stay open to new angles, fresh approaches, to a good idea, and don’t give up. You can count on your great-hearted Daddy, divine Love, to always give you the best deal.