The Ohr Hachaim explains how Moshe Rabbeinu’s request to end the plague of tzefardaya was given in great detail. Why did Moshe have to go into such great detail?

The Medrash tells a story of a Jewish peasant who was in desperate need of a donkey to help him with chores around his farm. He prayed to Hashem “Ribbono shel olam, please send me a donkey.” Shortly thereafter, the peasant noticed a prince travelling through the woods near his home. He went to investigate and saw that the entire entourage had stopped to enable a pregnant donkey to give birth. When the birth was over, there was a healthy foal added to the entourage. The prince looked at the foal, then at the peasant “Peasant! I am in a hurry to my destination and shall not tarry for this foal. I order you to bring this foal to my palace.” The peasant muttered to himself saying “I prayed to G-d and my prayers were answered, but this is not what I wanted!”

The question is obvious: G-d doesn’t need intuition to figure out why the peasant wanted a donkey. He can actually see into our hearts and know exactly what we want. So why did G-d deliver what the man asked for, and not what he really wanted, and what is the lesson to be learned from this unhappy peasant.

There are those who explain that when a adolescent really wants something from his parents and he feels it is an opportune time to ask, he will spare no words to explain in detail that which he desires. Yet, there are also those who just give their request in general terms, which usually is indicative of a lack of belief that the request will be fulfilled “to the ‘t’”. Therefore, when one makes a request of G-d, it is proper to ask for it in detail, for this shows our belief in Hashem that He has the ability to give us exactly what we want.

On seeing this idea, my memory wandered to a story about Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the “defending attorney” of Israel. He was once in shul and saw one of the congregants speeding through davening without pronouncing every word as it should be. Another congregant said to this man “When you pray to Hashem, you should make sure that each word is said clearly.” The Rebbe overheard and defended this simple Jew “When a baby cries, the mother, who knows her infant intimately well, can discern in a cry exactly what the baby wants. So too Hashem can understand this man’s prayers, even if he does not pronounce them clearly.” This idea seems to contradict the previous idea!

I would like to suggest that it is true that the parents may know what you want, and you may even be answered, but the magnitude of the answer may depend upon the earnestness of your prayer and with how much devotion it was said. A mother who loves her child enjoys and appreciates hearing the long-winded requests from her child. So too Hashem loves to hear our requests – we don’t have to worry that we may be “boring” Him with our prayers.