Wishful Praying

Life Notes—July 22, 2010

“So I say unto you, ‘Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.’”  Luke 11:9-10 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a scripture that is among those so difficult, convicting and inconvenient that I wish Jesus had never said it.  The passage above is one that I believe is among the most misleading, or at least is commonly misunderstood.  It has spawned an offshoot within Christianity called Prosperity Theology, which teaches, “If you can dream it, you can have it!”  Wealth?  Power?  Fame?  Six-pack abs?  Ask, and you shall receive!  Of course, you need to buy the book or otherwise contribute to the cause in order to ask properly.  I have difficulty believing that was what Jesus was advocating. 

The context of this teaching is found in the verses preceding it, where Jesus’ disciples ask to be taught how to pray.  What Jesus shares is the framework for what we, today, call The Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus suggests asking (1) that God’s will be done, (2) provision for their daily needs, (3) forgiveness for sins, and (4) protection from temptation.  Those seem to be relatively modest, but important requests.  Perhaps Jesus meant that, within the context of common needs, whatever we ask will be provided. 

However, I also believe God, like a loving parent, provides much more than we need or ask for.  At least that has been the case in my life.  But often, prayers are not answered for years.  Sometimes they are answered in different ways than asked.  Sometimes they seem never have to been answered at all.  In those cases I think it is helpful to remember our years on earth are only a small part of our eternal life.  Who knows what answers await on the other side of the grave? 

Am I saying God does not answer prayer?  No.  There have been too many specific prayers answered in my own life for such pessimism.  What I am saying is I do not understand what the “formula” is that determines why some prayers are answered, while other equally worthy prayers seem not to be answered.  I don’t believe the formula is contained in the method of our asking, but in God’s grace and wisdom.  I have asked, with all sincerity and passion, for some pretty idiotic things in my life that I thank God I never received.  However, I may continue to pray for those six-pack abs—just in case… 

Tom’s sermon title (west campus) is “Persistent in Prayer;” Mitch’s sermon (downtown) is “Knock Knock Joke,” and both are based on Luke 11:1-13.  Life worship begins at 10:45 in Brady hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Strugglers welcome!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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