There's one little word missing from the Gospels that ought to change the way that we, as Christians pray. That little word is "please." Of all the men and women who came to Jesus, begging for His healing, longing for His touch, aching for His forgiveness, perhaps only once did any of them say, "Please." (And then only perhaps because the details on that particular story differ between tellings and only one telling includes the politeness of the asker.)
Even in the Psalms, known for their deep, heartfelt prayers to God, "please" is conspicuously absent. David, who boldly asked for whatever he wanted in the name of God, who asked for redemption and for the persecution of his enemies, who confessed his sins and pleaded for forgiveness, did not insert a "please."
So why do so many of our own prayers begin this way?
"Lord, I just ask you to please...." "God, please...." "Jesus, I know it feels like a lot to ask, but if you would please...."
Dear demons, please get out of my life. Thank you in advance. Sincerely, me.
I get it. Most of us were raised to be polite. We were raised to treat others with this kind of respect, knowing that whatever anyone does for us is essentially a grace because we should never expect favors, never count our chickens before they hatch. We should always say please and thank you because we're essentially putting others out, and it shows that we recognize this and respect both their time and their free will.
But that is not at all how we're called to relate to God. Not in the slightest bit. Bold faith doesn't have time to be polite. It's too busy believing.
And God wants a lot of things from us, but respect isn't one of them. At least, not in the way that we often want to give it. God wants our honor. God wants our faith. God wants our trust. He wants us to believe in Him, to know Him, to love Him. Can you imagine what the church would be if an unbeliever walked through our doors and asked, "What's this all about?" and we said, "Oh, we respect God very much."
Respect is idol worship; it's not the deeply relational bond that God desires to have with His people.
But here we are in a Christianity where most of us can't seem to pray at all without this measure of respect, where we buffer our requests with "please" and think that that's doing something for our faith. It is. ...it's killing it. What would happen if we would stand on the sides of the road and cry out to Jesus the way that the blind men did? Not "please give us our eyesight back," but "have mercy on me!"
What would happen if we pushed our way through the crowd and reached out and touched Him? Not pushed our way through to ask permission to please for just a second touch Him, but just pushed through and touched Him? What would happen if we prayed the way Jesus prayed to His Father - "if it be Your will" instead of "please, God..."?
What would happen if we prayed like it was a promise and not an inconvenience? What would happen if we prayed like we believed instead of wished? What would happen if we prayed like we were children of a loving God rather than a bother?
It would change the way we pray. And it would change the way we encounter Him when we do.
This is not the time to polite. It's the time to be bold. Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.