Whether it's carefully observing buildings, fences, streets, power lines, and other parts of the built environment (as does John Stilgore in Outside Lies Magic); staring hard at the natural environment (as does Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek); or holding a microscope to your own life (as does Federick Buechner in Telling Secrets), persistence is rewarding. Understanding comes with patience and doggedness in knocking on doors, seeking out truth, and asking for understanding.
So it is in prayer. In Luke 1:5:13, Jesus recounts a story of a person who goes to a friend's house at midnight, wakes him up, and asks him to lend him three loaves of bread. As you might imagine, the friend is not so friendly, given the late hour, and tells him to go home. And yet his friend persists, and "because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs." Jesus uses the story to encourage prayer, as He goes on to tell us to "ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Lk. 11:9). He seems to be encouraging an impudent praying, a persistence born of the imposition that a friend can make on another good friend, knowing that his good friend will not deny him what he seeks.
As Stephen Smallman notes, this is also true of the way Moses made his requests to God. Even when God assures him in Exodus 33:12-16 that His Presence will go with him, Moses persists, wanting to be certain, to be clear, that God will go not only with Him but also with all His people. And he gains that assurance. His boldness, the imposition borne of familiarity, is not rejected but rewarded. It's an amazing condescension that the Creator of the Universe would allow Himself to be addressed in such a way, and not only that, would give of what He is asked.
All this is a reminder to me that God loves us with the love of a good Father. More than anything, He wants us to come to Him, to talk, talk, talk, to ask about everything, to seek what we need, to knock on the door anytime anywhere anyplace. He never sleeps. He has all the time in the world and more. So come boldly. Be impudent in prayer. God will rise up and give you whatever you need.
[The "40 Days On the Edge" posts are my ruminations in light of Stephen Smallman's devotional entitled "Forty Days On the Mountain," read in conjunction with Harvard Landscape History Professor John Stilgore's "Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places." Both books may be ordered by clicking on them where they are listed in the sidebar under "Current Reading."]