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When The Answer Is No

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

As a kid I learned fairly quickly that when mom said ‘no’, she meant it. I was not to beg or pout but was to accept the answer and move on.

I took that same approach from my childhood into my adulthood and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I have prayed for things and if it doesn’t happen, if my prayers are not answered, I take that as a ‘no’ from God and I move on. But should that be my approach?

I recently felt impressed to keep praying for something. Something I had prayed about for close to 40 years. I had quit praying about it because the obvious answer was no.

I have had prayers answered immediately and, I have prayers that after over 4 decades are still not answered.

This quarter at church we are studying “In the Crucible with Christ”. It has been a fantastic study. But on one particular study I asked the question, “Can humans really change God’s mind?”

It was a legitimate question, although deep down I believed the answer to be ‘no’.

Can we change the mind, the decision of, Jehovah? Apparently so. And it is the following story that I feel our Heavenly Abba put on my heart just a few days ago.

In Luke chapter 18 you can read two parables. There are a few verses on Jesus blessing the children. Jesus counseled the rich young ruler in verses 18 to 23. He talked about how to enter the kingdom of heaven, He predicted His death and resurrection, and a blind man received his sight. Lots of really great stories.

I want to look at just one of those stories. The parable of the persistent widow.

…“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor respect man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” Luke 18:2-5 NKJV

Apparently, the widow was such a nuisance, that the judge finally gave in to her demands. He would avenge her.

The Greek is stronger than the translation. A more true meaning would be, “She will give me a black eye if I don’t give in.”

In fact, the NIV says, “so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”

The Message says, “otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

ESV translates it “so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”

Whatever the truer translation, the point is, the squeaky wheel got the grease.

Are we to be that squeaky wheel with God? If His answer is no, do we keep asking? If His answer is wait, or not now, do we keep coming before Him with the same prayer request?

Apparently so.

There is a story that Martin Luther once picked up a piece of meat from his table and dangled it in front of his dog. The dog was very interested and jumped up and tried to get it. Luther commented that he wished he could pray with such longing and desire, with the same concentration and intensity his dog had for the meat.

God wants us to pray with persistence and intensity. God wants us to communicate with Him as with our best friend. Luther is right. We should pray to our God with the same enthusiasm as a dog barks and jumps and wags its tail before the master. And we should pray and never give up.

Can we change God’s mind? Yes. We have the parable of the widow but we also have examples in the Bible.

Jacob wrestling with the angel is one such example. Jacob would not let go. As a result he received a blessing. Yes, his hip was put out of joint, but he was blessed with a new name. His name would be Israel because he wrestled with God.

The widow got what she wanted. Again, it was her persistence that changed the mind of the judge.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

Did you notice we started with verse 2? What does verse 1 say?

It is the most important part of this parable because it explains the meaning, or reason, of the parable.

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1 NKJV

There it is! Pray and don't stop. Pray and don't give up. Pray and don't become discouraged.

Jesus tells us to “ask, seek, find, knock”. Those verbs in Greek have the sense of not stopping. In other words, keep seeking. Keep asking. Keep knocking. Don’t give up. Don’t quit.

So, whether you have been praying for 40 days or 40 years, keep asking. God is not deaf. And who knows, perhaps by your persistence, you will change His mind.

Remember. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

by Jeanette Stark - Wednesday, September 7, 2022

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