Persistence is the key to learning what God wants for us

      Whenever I put myself in the place of the man rousted out of bed in this week’s Gospel (Luke 11:1-13), I can’t help but feel a twinge of empathy.

      Here it is the middle of the night; the guy is snuggled into his warm bed, asleep, when suddenly there’s a knock on the door. It’s his buddy from down the street; he wants to borrow a couple of loaves of bread to serve to unexpected company. First of all, it’s the middle of the night, dude! Then I guess I would question why the guy pounding on the door didn’t have any food of his own.

      “Leave me alone!”

      To be honest, I can see the sleeping guy’s point of view. We could all understand how he might tell the man outside of the door that he could not – would not – open the door. It was way too inconvenient. But in this parable on prayer, Jesus goes on to tell us that even if the man does not want to open the door out of friendship, he will eventually do so because his friend continues to knock – because of his persistence.

      Each time I come knocking on God’s door, I imagine God might ask me what I have learned since the last time I came around. Persistence in prayer offers us a powerful opportunity to learn, grow and be strengthened by grace.

      Legendary baseball-great Babe Ruth is quoted as once saying, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” I don’t think he was talking about the odds. Instead, I believe he was trying to say that with every strike, with every failure, he learned and he grew. He never gave up, but rather found success in his persistence.

      When I was much, much younger and I prayed for something, I would get frustrated when my prayers weren’t immediately answered – really, like God had nothing better to do than stop what he was doing and see to my needs. I would work myself into a froth and wonder – at times, very vocally – why I even bothered.

      But something would always tell me to persist. Maybe it was stubbornness or even spite, but, gosh darn it, Lord, I’m not going away anytime soon.

      What is always interesting is that I find the more I persist in my prayer, the more I am able to look back with hindsight and realize that there is a lesson to be learned. With each request, I learn more about myself, more about the person I believe God wants me to be. God doesn’t have selective hearing; with each repeated request, God is forming me.

      Numerous times I reach a point where the proverbial light bulb finally goes on over my head. What I thought I wanted was never even close to what I actually needed. The outcome I desired was totally different than what I anticipated. And you know what? Because I was reflecting, learning and making the effort to grow closer to the Lord, that door was opened and the answer was right there in front of me.

      A model of persistence for me has always been St. Monica. Married off to a violent man of no faith and a wandering eye, she also had a son with little ambition other than drinking, womanizing and other assorted vices. Monica never gave up on him. Never abandoning her prayer, she followed her son city to city, surely embarrassing him frequently in front of his friends.

      Monica was the poster child for persistence. She “tailed” her son, praying and fasting until one day he came under the influence of Bishop Ambrose (aka St. Ambrose, bishop and Doctor of the Church). Her son experienced a conversion that could only be considered miraculous.

      What became of her son Augustine? We now know him as St. Augustine of Hippo, another of our esteemed Doctors of the Church. The point? Monica never gave up, and neither should we.

      Persistence - it works!

      Debbie Bosak is the former editor of the Northwest Indiana Catholic. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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