Monday, July 26, 2010

do you really believe in prayer?

i did a homily at worship last year where that was the main question. it has been a struggle for me because i want so much for freedom to serve and be all that we can be as we try to minister in the place where we are. yesterday in worship the gospel reading was from Luke 11.

Luk 11:5 And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;

Luk 11:6 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him';

Luk 11:7 "and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'?

Luk 11:8 "I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

Luk 11:9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Luk 11:10 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Luk 11:11 "If a son asks for bread [fn] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

Luk 11:12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

Luk 11:13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

i dreamed about this passage last night. it was in our scripture readings yesterday at worship and it gave me pause. do i really believe this?
i have no trouble with the metaphor of going to a neighbour's house to ask for a favour, no trouble with that at all, that's what i believe the body of Christ should be about. we need to support each other and help where we can ... but this passage of scripture isn't talking about that.
contextually the disciples are asking about how they are to pray and Jesus tells them but then he adds all this stuff about asking God and receiving; seeking and finding; knocking and answering. do i really believe in that?
is prayer like going to your buddy's house and asking for bread because you have none at home to feed your guest? if it were then why would we still struggle with infirmity even though we beg God for relief? why do we struggle with depression even though my heart's desire is that those i love would be happy and healthy?

i just had to re-read the passage. when i've read this passage in the past i've always heard "if we know how to give good gifts to our children how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to you" ... but it doesn't say that.
it doesn't say that.
it says "how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him".
i've been praying and asking and seeking and knocking with the expectation that i'd be receiving and finding and getting doors opened into what i've been praying for. i've been expecting specifics as i've prayed and i should've just realized what the good gifts i should be expecting.

how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

not how much more will the Father make you happy and healthy and rich and secure. not how much more will the Father give you your heart's desire and make you a king among men.

now i still want what my heart's desire wants but i need to change my focus. i've been asking for health and happiness and i've been receiving an extra helping of the Holy Spirit. now THAT is cool. i'm still struggling with what i struggle with but the Spirit is a presence who buttresses and builds up. i may not be getting the answers that i have been expecting to get but the Spirit is alongside and without and within while she does her glorious work in my life.

yeah, the Father knows what he's doing ... and i believe in prayer.

1 comment:

blessed said...

this is so interesting, because if someone asked me about the prosperity gospel, i would be against that theological model, but my misunderstanding of this passage is exactly that. i've always read it and struggled with it being true, because i still had my hurts and my depression. and while he hasn't always given me happiness and excitement, he has given me more and more of the spirit. thanks for sharing.