By Niobe Rodrigues
I must admit I am a Candy Crush addict. (Candy Crush Saga is a free-to-play match-three puzzle video game released by King on April 12, 2012, originally for Facebook; other versions for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 10)
Like many users of the app, I would spend much more time than is healthy on it daily.
However, there are times when I start a level and have made between three to five moves without knowing the goal of that particular level. I may go in thinking it’s one thing and then I’m stuck because of the moves I have already made. At times, I just do random swaps so I can fail the level and try again.
It is quite possible that we more often persist to get past a particular level in a game than we would at prayer.
Abraham, when he heard the plans the Lord had to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, begged him to reconsider for the sake of the potentially upright persons in those towns. He kept reducing the number by five and then by tens hoping to save the few who may have remained loyal to the Lord. Each time he asked humbly and not expecting his prayer to be answered or even considered; yet the Lord gave ear to his pleading.
On the other hand, the person in Luke’s Gospel makes his request boldly calling the person, “Friend”. He knows even though the friend may not really want to, may be concerned with his own comfort, may not want to unlock the door, and possibly disturb his children’s rest and peace, the friend will respond because of persistence. We may well say: “What persistence? He asked once and got what he wanted. No tenacity was necessary.”
We have to look at the elements of the prayer and see where persistence is hidden and why it was successful.
1. Friend. This is the title that the person who made the request used to communicate with the one he wanted something from. There is an established relationship between them. In the same gospel at verse 2, Jesus advises His disciples to start prayer with the word ‘Father’. The relationship between Him and the petitioner is understood.
2. Lend me three loaves of bread. The petitioner is specific in what he wants: three loaves of bread. I can’t come knocking at your door late at night and I am not sure what I want. Specifics are important. For example, some women may say they want a good man and that is the total of the prayer but what is good for you may not be good for someone else. Know what you want and be specific. Don’t vary from what you’re asking for, stick to it. If it’s not for you, God will change your prayer, or He will change you.
3. For a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him. Friend, what I’m asking for is not for me alone, you know. It’s for my friend who came to visit me. He knows you and I are friends. If you don’t help me, it will look bad. If you don’t answer my prayer on behalf of my friend, what will my friend think? Lord, people know I am a Christian. You can’t leave me like this! Help me!
The persistence is in the established relationship, the specificity of the request and the upholding of the friend’s name.
What looks strange is after the request, the friend says essentially, “Leave me alone. I’m not getting up to do anything.” Yet, the power of the spoken prayer has touched him.
It’s late at night. The petitioner could have sent a servant or a family member, but he came for himself knowing that because of their relationship, hearing his voice would stir something in him and he would respond positively.
The song this week is Breakthrough by Nisa.
A section of the song is:
Don’t let the Devil lie to you
Despite the trials and obstacles
Fall to your knees
Open your heart, It’s time to be made anew
He’s never leave you
Nor forsake yuh
So get ready for your
The door between the petitioner and the friend is locked because they may have grown apart. They may not have spoken in days, weeks, months, or years. Maybe the petitioner turned up at midnight because he was procrastinating, ashamed, not expecting the friend to answer him. The friend could have feigned sleep. The petitioner had to humble himself and go to the friend with faith. Going implies a process. Just like the beat in the song and the sledgehammer held by the artist, it takes repeated effort and time to have a prayer answered, to find what is being sought, to have the locked door opened.
Let us put more effort into our prayer than we do in other wasteful, binge activities. What we would receive at the new level of prayer would surely be a breakthrough for all of us.
Special thanks to Nisa for the lyrics.
I asked and received!