My prayer life reached a whole new level recently, by being reduced to one word:
I’ve said please before, but my heart hasn’t always matched its actual definition. Please is an adverb meaning “a polite addition to a request.”
I see three parts to that definition:
- A request precedes a “please.”
The word by itself has no meaning.
- It’s an addition to a request.
A request doesn’t require a “please.”
- It’s polite.
Sometimes my pleases are not very polite. I thought they were, but recently my heart sold me out.
I definitely sound nice at first. “God, will You please give me ___________?” I willingly turn to Him for help. If I’m honest, though, I don’t expect God to answer on the first try.
I just know the drill.
It’s starts with a repetitive prayer process that has lots of pleases sprinkled pleasantly throughout. Depending on the size of the request, and the length of time that passes, the pleases might get a little snippy.
If that shortness in tone doesn’t do the trick, then the pleases start to tap their feet in annoyance.
“C’mon, Lord, I said please.”
If answers are still not forthcoming, the pleases take it up a notch. Through painted smiles they say:
“I have jumped through Your hoops. I have prayed… a lot. Please, Lord.”
I think you get the picture. The problem is, I didn’t get the picture until recently. I had been praying for something, not realizing how very unpolite my “pleases” had become.
I was sitting on my son’s bed, listening to him share a significant struggle, when I realized we were struggling with the same thing! My knee jerk reaction, as a mama bear, was to spout out a loud,
“Lord?!? It is one thing for me to want this, but now my son is struggling. I said, please!!!”
In that instant, I caught a glimpse of my heart. There was nothing nice about it. Rather it was demanding and angry. I had reduced God to a vending machine and was literally banging on the side of it.
Hebrews 4:16 reminds us we can ...approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. The problem is we focus on approaching Him with confidence and skip right over the word in the middle.
Yes, we can approach the throne, but don’t forget it’s still a throne. A throne that God still sits on.
And I don’t think He’s crazy about our testy pleases.
The next morning, I got on my knees and all I could say was, “please.” The word barely squeaked out my mouth. It was an addition to the request He already knew about and it was very polite. Finally, I had used the word in all three parts of its definition.
My heart slightly shifted, and a HUGE weight was lifted.
I realized the reason why my pleases get unruly is because I shoulder the responsibility of God working in my life. If I can just pray enough or with enough urgency, God will answer. As if I have to measure up before God will act. Conversely, I assume when God doesn’t answer, it’s because I didn’t measure up.
Do you ever feel like you have to measure up before God will act on your behalf?
According to Hebrews 4:16, God wants us to approach Him confidently. Why? So we can receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. Mercy and grace are not reliant upon our behavior. Let that sink in. It’s rich.
I still want God to answer this prayer. For my sake and for my son’s. I no longer feel responsible for it, though. The answer is not dependent on whether or not I am good enough. That’s a huge relief.
Do I want to grow more in this area?
You can approach the throne with confidence, but do so with the correct please. Remember that “measuring up” is not a prerequisite.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
About the Author: Jen Allee is a speaker and author of the Bible study Release, a six-week study overcoming fear and other areas of enslavement. You can find out about Release, invite her to speak, and catch up on her Living Intentionally blog at jenallee.com.