Begging, Urging, and Pleading: Please and Pray

Hello Friends,

How are you doing? Did you hear that old Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this past week….which means that we have six more weeks of winter! Are you excited that winter is going to continue or are you ready for spring to arrive? After receiving the news about Punxsutawney Phil, I did some research on this curious groundhog.

  –PHIL SPEAKS A SPECIAL LANGUAGE: Every year on Feb. 2, when Phil emerges from his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, Western Pennsylvania, to make his prediction, he speaks a special language called Groundhogese. Only the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club can understand Groundhogese; once Phil communicates to the president of the club whether he saw his shadow, the proclamation is translated.

   –HOW OLD IS PHIL?: According to Groundhog Club members, there has only been one Phil — and he has been predicting since 1887. That makes him 136 years old!

PHIL’S PREDICTIONS: While the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club says Phil is correct 100% of the time, Phil actually has an overall accuracy rate of 39% over 135 years, according to StormFax Weather Almanac. Previous data noted over the course of 29 years–from 1988 to 2017–Phil’s prediction was accurate just 13 times. From 1887 to 2022, Phil predicted long-lasting winters 106 times while predicting only 20 early springs. During that time, there were 10 years where no record of Phil’s prediction was documented. For the past two years, he’s predicted six more weeks of winter. The science behind the predictions is based on whether Phil sees his shadow. If the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.

   –THE FIRST PREDICTION: Phil made his first recorded prediction on February 2, 1887.

Thinking about Groundhogs Day, I bet a lot of people were begging Punxsutawney Phil to not see his shadow because they want spring to come early. Have you ever begged for something? You begged for a special dessert, more cookies, one more piece of candy, to stay up five more minutes, or to sleep in and not go to school? At some point, we all beg for something.

And thinking about Jesus, people begged Jesus to help them, to heal them, to save them or to save others all the time. Jesus was always being asked to do something. To beg means to demand something. When you beg for something, you do it with urgency, you make a request, you make a plea. When we want a special a dessert, we want it now! When I think about begging, I think about my dog who will stand on two legs, bark, and follow you around when he wants a treat.

But did you know that the word beg can also mean “please and pray.” When people beg for Jesus, they are praying for him to help. I don’t know about you, but when I want an extra cookie, I don’t pray for another cookie: but that’s what people were doing when they were begging for Jesus–they were praying. So the next time you think about begging for something, keep in mind that your beg could become a prayer. Maybe instead of begging, we should not make an urgent request but instead say please: “Please can I have another cookie,” “Please can I stay up for five more minutes,” “Please can I have one more piece of candy.” You will be surprised how a simple please can change your life. “Please Jesus hear my prayers…”

Your Friend, Holy Spirit!


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