We have been blessed with three children and nine grandchildren. One of the joys for us as parents has been providing Christmas for everyone. At our house we enjoyed the fantasy of Santa Claus until our girls grew old enough to know that Mom and Dad are really Santa. And our grandchildren have enjoyed this same magical belief. I understand that not everyone incorporates Santa into their Christmas celebrations, but we have always had fun with it.
A few years ago, when granddaughter Emma was only about five or six years old, she wanted a puppy for Christmas. My daughter and son-in-law were very busy with a young household of four children at the time, and didn’t think they needed the extra work involved with a puppy. A trip to see Santa was coming up so they were trying to prepare Emma for the fact that Santa was NOT going to bring a puppy. “Well, Santa needs to have your parents’ permission for a puppy and besides he may think you are not ready for a puppy.”
Emma seemed to accept this, and told her mom she was going to ask for an American Girl Doll instead. Good choice. What none of us knew was that Emma, who is a really smart little girl, planned an end run around her parents, and was going to wait until she got on Santa’s lap to ask for a puppy. Much to my daughter’s shock and dismay, Santa said yes! “But Santa (wink, wink), don’t you have to talk to Mom and Dad before you agree to a puppy,” my daughter asked. “No. If she wants a puppy she can have a puppy.” All the adults stared at Santa in disbelief. Did he just say she could have a puppy??? Emma left that visit a happy girl, confident that on Christmas morning she would have a puppy. And guess what? She did.
So fast-forward to this year. The grands are all older and we only have one left who still believes, and she believes in a BIG way! We were all together the other night watching football when I heard 7-year old Olivia say she was asking Santa for a Disney cruise for the whole family. Wow! That’s a big ask! Again, I heard my daughter explaining that Santa was probably not going to do that. “But Mom! Why do you have to be so negative? Santa can do this!” Gulp.
Wouldn’t it be great to believe like that? This morning in my quiet time I was reading from A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. In discussing how to talk with our Father, Miller says that we must come to him like a child, confident of His love and power. “We must enter the world of a child, where all things are possible.” We must have the same childlike faith Olivia has.
In my studies on prayer I learned a new word, importunate or importunity. I learned that God loves it when we pray with importunity. Importunate prayers are like the pleas of the persistent widow in Luke 18. She kept coming before the corrupt judge, asking for justice. Eventually she wore him out with her constant pleas. Jesus encourages us to pray like that widow. If an unjust judge will eventually answer a request, how much more willing is a loving and just heavenly Father? Our God is perfect and does not change, nor does He need to change. Importunate prayers change us, they help us grow as Believers.
Occasionally during Christ’s time on earth, He encountered people who had Olivia’s childlike faith, believing that He could do all things, answer all prayers. I’m thinking about the Roman centurion who believed Jesus could heal his servant without even coming to his home. “But say the word and let my servant be healed” (Luke 7:7). Jesus practically shouts at us to pray like in that way, to pray with importunity, to come to Him believing that all things are possible. I am not suggesting that we should approach God like some cosmic Santa Claus or heavenly ATM machine. But we must come to Him with the faith that He loves us, knows what is best for us, and has the power to do all things.
I have found when I pray with importunity, prayer changes me, not God. I enter my pleas to ask of God, but He invariably asks of me. When I pray with importunity, I get onboard with what God is trying to do in my life and the lives of those I pray for. This morning I have a rare empty schedule. I’m thinking God wants to get my attention about something. So I pray.