Try picturing yourself in a situation where you’re likely to nag. What situation is it for you?
Many wives nag their husbands about conversations they have to have, jobs that need to be done around the house, and decisions that need to be made. Many husbands nag their wives for more physical affection. Fathers are often quick to nag their children about all those ‘annoying habits’ they have.
What’s the thing that seems to make you nag, even when you’ve sworn you won’t? Why is it so hard to not nag in that situation?
Let me suggest a reason. I think it’s hard to not nag in that situation because of three things.
- You are experiencing some measure of discomfort in that given moment
- You see a way that your discomfort could be alleviated
- The power to alleviate your discomfort lies with another person
So the logic seemingly demands that we nag. We need to convince that other person to act so that our problems are resolved. But you know what’s fascinating about that? If we really believed God’s words the way we say we do we would be impulsively and compulsively nagging God in prayer.
And you know what? I think he’d like it.
In Luke 18.1-8 Jesus tells a parable to this effect. A widow needs justice and only the judge can provide it. But he doesn’t want to. So what is her only recourse? She nags and nags until finally he gives in and provides her with the solution to her discomfort that she sought. Luke tells us there explicitly that Jesus ‘told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.’ Jesus interprets the parable for us:
And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
So what stops us from nagging God? What stops us from praying like Jesus wants us to?
- We grow comfortable in this world with things the way they are
- Even if we do feel the discomfort, we see ways other than prayer that our comfort could be established
- We think the power to fix our problems lies with us or with other people
So when we nag we’re actually displaying more faith in other people than in God. And when we refuse to nag God, we’re disobeying the desire of Jesus who calls us to petition God, the Righteous Judge — to nag him — night and day.
So ‘nagging God’ rather than other people would actually be an expression of faith. Obviously here I’m removing the negative, blame-attributing, condemnation-giving qualities we typically associate with nagging, but I hope you get what I mean.
When we see the problems with our life and the problems with our world, instead of quickly turning to others, we should turn to God. We should cry out to him who, alone, can fix our problems. We should cry out in faith, believing that he has the power and the will to act. And if we really, truly, honestly believed that he had the power to change us and our loved ones, as well as our situations, I think we would ‘nag’ him instinctively.
If our prayers to God became as persistent as our nagging of others has been, I think that our God would be pleased.