Have you ever been so desperate for God to grant a request that you promised never to ask anything else of God again if He would only answer your prayer? Most everyone has done this at least once. I, myself, am guilty of attempting to bribe God in this way. I wonder, however, how I, or anyone else, could ever do such a thing?
I think our offer to never “bother” God again should He answer a particular request of ours comes from a misunderstanding of God’s nature. We seem to confuse God with ourselves. We tend to think of God as just a superior version of ourselves. It seems natural, seeing as how the Bible says that God created man in His image. God, however, is far better than man.
Just about everyone can understand the frustration that comes with dealing with inquisitive or needy people. Having four children myself, I am very experienced in this area. My third child, Wesley, is extremely inquisitive. My youngest child, Brandon, is needy. Though I love both kids, I get frustrated when they begin hounding me. Wesley inevitably finds the worst times to begin asking me questions. I fully expect him to interrupt me while I try to watch the Notre Dame game Saturday. (Heaven help him if he does interrupt the game.)
Brandon is very cautious by nature. I have observed him at school, and Brandon is quite timid about answering questions out loud in class. This is due to his fear of ridicule from giving a wrong answer. He is also overly cautious about trying new things on his own. While he becomes confident and comfortable with new things very quickly, he needs to know he has the support and aid of those he trusts.
While I love Wes and B (as I call them), I do get frustrated with these things. Instead of grilling me with seemingly endless questions, I want Wes to do his own research when possible. I don’t mind answering some questions, but at some point, I just want Wes to read a book, or search the web.
With B, I want him to gain some more confidence. He needs to understand that he will have to just learn to do some things without me, his mother, his teacher, or whoever always there to either help him, or demonstrate things for him first. He can not be afraid to make mistakes, or to be wrong. No one is perfect, and there will not always be someone there to assist him.
My frustration with my children does not demonstrate a lack of love or concern for them. It demonstrates my imperfection. Instead of wanting them to turn keep turning to me for help, or to answer their questions, I want my children to learn to do for themselves. I think all mankind is a lot like that. No one wants to be constantly bothered. God, however, is different.
God is omnipotent. He is the creator and sustainer of all life. He knows that, without Him, we can do nothing. What God wants is for us to realize that fact. This is what prayer is all about.
God wants us to constantly turn to Him in prayer. He alone is perfect, and He knows what is best for us. God has a purpose for which He created each one of us. We must turn to Him to reveal what His will for us is. St. Paul instructs to “pray without ceasing” (1 Th. 5:16-8).
Whenever we need something, we should turn to God. We should pray simply out of love and praise for Him, but God never tires of hearing our wants and needs. Never should we tell God that, if He answers our prayer, we will never ask Him for anything else. We have to have God’s help in everything. So, instead of saying we will never bother God again if He answers our prayer, maybe we should say that we will turn to God more frequently if He answers our prayer.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity