Please and pretty please

Rise up, be our help, And redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.

Psalms 44:26 ESV2011

Check out what this songwriter is asking.  Without a “please” you might think he or she is telling God what to do.  A little disturbing, huh?  Maybe “please” is just another syllable, unnecessary when the situation is dire. “Kurie, sôson me” from Peter, as he sunk beneath the waves, is entirely appropriate.

The request for action, the command, is the imperative (command) form of the action word. Stop signs and “no  entry” warnings, for example,, leave us no choice.   They are perfect commands.  Ignore them and you pay the violater’s price. When we want God to act we ask respectfully and do not command. 
na” shows up when a request is urgent and “ana” shows up when the emergency is personal.  The two appear in together in rare circumstances (Gen. 50:17, 2 Kings 20:3 [same as Isa. 38:3], Neh. 1:11, Ps. 118:25)

Let me say that asking God for anything successfully is shaped by us knowing what he might do and what he definitely will not do.  We can also forget that idea about asking for whatever is in our heart (the heart being not the best place to source our requests to God).   Success in our prayers does not depend on God’s ability to do what we deem is impossible.  In addition there are way too many prayers that are like sending gift wishes to Santa Claus –  asking for things we can get all on our own human initiative.

A law and order person cannot get away with trying to make the Law of God (there is only one!) the law of the land.  Mixing human legislation with Mosaic law is a deadly trap.  A kingdom built on a divine person needs no condemnatory guidance.

P  l  e  a  s  e , with arm-pulling and a smile

“Pretty please” is a harbour for those who sense that their need may be urgent, who, with an added yank on the arm of the supplier (mom or dad) and a smile in his or her direction, put in their request.

Prayer does not work like that.  Maybe with persistence (Luke 18:1ff) a prayer with no distinction will get God’s attention.  It is entirely out of the question to approah God with our evaluation of ourselves as being in his will.  God sees through our smile, and arm-pulling, and our spin or loyal talk.

Spin and poetic license

17). All this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You, And we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant. 18) Our heart has not turned back, And our steps have not deviated from Your way,

Psalms 44:17’18

Have you ever wondered why a person who is, by whatever method of evaluation, keeping God’s commandments needs to ask God for anything?  Is not commandment-keeping supposed to be the distinct and ultimate achievement?

To be recognized as perfectly obedient was the prized “credit score”.  It is precisely the reputation that the writer of Psalm 44 felt he or she needed to protect- while acknowledging the decrees of God regarding the violation of the covenant. Frankly, there is no way to talk about law without recognizing the universal shortcoming.

That request we see in Psalm 44 came after Israel has been chastened by means of exile and still the lie persists. The more respectful request – without the poetic license – will address the matter directly. Hosannah is the cry for salvation, and there is no answer coming except, as the children in the temple chanted, from David’s son.

anna yhwh hoshiah na – anna yhwh hatslichah na

I think we owe it to our audiences to make it clear that our prayers do not tell God what to do. S’il vous plait – anna and na – are examples of the way humans can call on the LORD for salvation.