Prayer, Gifts, and Faith.Posted: May 24, 2012
Vince’s message on Sunday was about prayer, and at one point he said that God wants to give us good things, because what father doesn’t want to give good things to his kids? And then, to some comic effect, he said something like: “All right, well, maybe we don’t ask our dads for stuff, so maybe that isn’t a good analogy.” And I think that he is sort of right. I certainly don’t ask my dad for stuff. We live in an age and culture where children quickly become either independent, or else are spoiled by their parents, which means they either don’t want good things from their parents, or else they expect good things from their parents.
However, the Bible actually says this parent-child analogy is useful all the same. In the verses following “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened,” Jesus asks his listeners:
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11
And yet, I don’t always think this myself.
Vince also mentioned those kind of timid and mincing prayers that go something like: “God, if it isn’t too inconvenient, could you please give me a couple bucks sometime between now and three months from now? And if you don’t do that, it’s okay. No biggie.” There is a problem with this kind of prayer that goes a little deeper than just trying not to bother God too much.
To go back to Jesus’ analogy, this would be like a child saying to his or her father: “If it isn’t too much, Dad, could you just give me enough food so I don’t starve, maybe? Sometime between today and Thursday would be nice. But if not, don’t worry about it.” The subtext to this would seem to indicate that either: 1.) This father is a terrible parent and can’t provide for his child or 2.) This child has no faith that his or her father will take care of him or her.
Which means, when I don’t ask God for the desires of my heart, or to meet my needs, and when I pray those kinds of timid prayers that don’t expect much from God, it could mean either of these two possibilities.
As a Christian, I don’t consciously think God is a terrible Father, nor do I think God is incapable of taking care of me. As a human being, though, I have a faith problem, and I don’t trust or have faith that God will hear me, answer me, or exceed my expectations. But if I don’t step out in faith, I’m the one preventing things from happening, not God. God wants to hear from us, and he wants us to have good things in our lives, but He also wants us to trust in Him, and have faith that He alone can do these things, and exceed our dreams and expectations.
So this means this week’s challenge and next steps could go even further: God is our Heavenly Father, He gives good gifts to his children, and we need to ask and trust and have faith in this truth.