“I want a puppy!”

Me: “Good news Kia!  There’s underwear being washed right now!”
(We were without a working washing machine for almost two weeks and the clean clothes supply was looking quite dismal.)
5 yo Kia: “No, I want a puppy!”
Me: “Maybe you should go to The Attic (local thrift store) and buy a stuffed puppy…”
Kia: “No, I want a real puppy!”

I’m not entirely sure how or why Kia decided that day that he wanted a puppy.  But regardless of the question asked, or the comments made, his response was always the same – “I want a puppy!”

Kia, it’s time for lunch!” “I want a puppy!”
“Kia, do you want milk or water to drink?” “I want a puppy!”
“Kia, go pick out a book for me to read to you.” “I want a puppy!”
“Kia, it’s your turn to play the Wii.” “I want a puppy!”

Sound familiar?  I have to admit that sounds an awful lot like me sometimes.  Now I can think about this persistence in one of two ways.  Both ways are accurate, depending on the situation….on one hand, as I wrote about yesterday, sometimes we need to persist in our prayers.  After all the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge was told by Jesus to “show [the disciples] that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).  If what you are pursuing in prayer lines up with God’s values of justice & righteousness, and exhibits His character of steadfast love and mercy, persist!  Do not give up, and have faith that “God [will] bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night” (Luke 18:7).

But sometimes what we’re persisting in prayer about, just like Kia wanting a puppy, does not necessarily line up with God’s intentions and plans.  Perhaps it is a selfish prayer that benefits no one except ourselves.  Sometimes our prayers are an attempt to get out of the trouble we’ve brought upon ourselves through sinful behaviors and actions.  At times our short-sighted prayers are not answered out of God’s grace and goodness, because He knows and understands the “big picture”.  And sometimes, we honestly don’t know why our prayers go unanswered.

But regardless, sometimes we need to take a step back from our persistent prayers and make sure that they’re something we’re supposed to be pursuing.  While persistence is indeed an important character quality, it can also lead to tunnel vision.  We become so transfixed on that which we’re persisting about, that we miss what else is going on.  Kia, for example, was so set on wanting a puppy, he missed the chance to cuddle with me and read a story.  He missed his turn driving Mario Kart on the Wii.

So what’s the answer?  Which one is it – are we to be persistent in prayer, or not?  Yes and yes.  There are times we indeed should persist, just as Jesus instructed.  But we also need to honestly evaluate our prayers to ensure they line up with God’s character and values, and that we’re not developing tunnel vision, focusing just on what we want.  Because while we’re carrying on about wanting a puppy, He just might have something far better in mind!