I was driving somewhere with my husband a while back and we stopped at a red light. There was a man walking up to the corner, and he pushed the crosswalk button, so that he could cross the street. That in and of itself was pretty unremarkable, and I really didn’t even notice it happening, but suddenly, he let out a series of rapid fire taps on the button. Again, we’ve all done that. But, he paused and then he did it again. And again. He even had my husband’s attention now. Why did he think he needed to assault the crosswalk button so furiously? Did he think that maybe the first press of the button went unnoticed by the electronics in the button? Did he think the WALK sign would flash sooner, the more he pressed the button? Did it just make him feel like he was doing something? The only thing he had control over in the situation, so it was better than doing nothing? Was he just really really impatient?
For some weird reason, suddenly I connected this man’s actions with my actions with praying to God. The first time I have a need that I pray for, is probably much like the first time this man pushed the crosswalk button. I pray, and my prayer is not answered immediately, so then I wonder if maybe God’s out to lunch and has missed my request, so I pray about the same need again, and again and again. Do I think that God really didn’t hear the first one? Is He up there keeping tally marks, “She just needs to say it three more times and I’ll really believe she wants My help…”? Is it because I can’t control any other part of the situation that I pray so many repeat prayers? Do I really not trust that God is going to deliver an answer, unless I annoy the heck out of him? My kids used to repeat a request over and over and over, usually in a whiny or demanding tone, hoping they could wear us down with their persistence. Am I acting like a whiny two year old, by repeating the same prayer over and over?
I don’t know the answer. I do know that this man, pounding on the crosswalk button, has changed my prayer life. I no longer pray for the same requests over and over. If it is something really important to me, I might preface my prayer with an attention getting, “Now, God, I know that you have a lot of people with needs, but what I’m about to say is important, so listen up…” and occasionally, I might end in a gentle, “…oh and about that prayer from the other day, yeah, I know you’re still working on that one.” But for the most part, I know that our God is a God that answers prayer, in His time and in the way that molds us into who He created us to be. He doesn’t need my help reminding Him that I have needs, anymore than I needed my kids’ help remembering they wanted ice cream. I don’t need to be a broken record. He got it the first time.