Asking

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, March 24, 2014 by Revd. Robin Williamson

Matthew 7:7-12 and Matthew 6:5-14

In 1990/91 when praying with a friend, he said, “Now your turn – what should we ask God for – for you?”.

I waffled, “To be a better person…”. He said, “No, no, be real. What’s your hearts desire?”

I said,

  1. I’d love to be married.
  2. I’d love to be more involved in church.

I was married in 1992 and ordained in 2002!

I was asked last week to visit someone who was thought to be dying. She seemed well; sitting up in bed and we chatted, she told me about her life but said that she wanted ‘Him to take her’.

I replied that I would pray that if that was her wish – but didn’t think it would be quite yet – and the carer confirmed my view. However, she died the following day!

I’ve received much prayer over the years – and received much inner healing – yet prayers for my physical condition appear unanswered – I get worse! And prayers with two other people I prayed with last week appear to have gone unanswered for a long time.

In our readings today we find,

“Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find: knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Is Jesus lying?

Why when we’ve asked, don’t we necessarily get what we’ve asked for?

God is not a chocolate machine; put an ‘Ask’ in the top and a ‘Yes’ out of the bottom!

Jesus clarifies by adding, (Matthew 7:9)

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone – or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake?”

It’s all about relationship: God is our loving Heavenly Father and cares for us much more that any human father could. Some of the things we as children asked our parents, were denied i.e. the answer was ‘no’ or ’wait and see’ (which usually meant no!)

And God sometimes answers our prayers by saying no, or not yet, or wait and see.

Our second reading, containing the Lord’s prayer – a wonderful asking prayer – emphasises the importance of relationship even more clearly.

After reminding the disciples that they should not make a performance or show of praying, Jesus said that when you pray (n.b. not if you pray) say, ”Our Father in heaven…”

We know it so well; probably it doesn’t have the impact it had to those first disciples. Jews (which they were) regarded God as a distant being – here Jesus was effectively saying Dad, or even Daddy.

So,

  • Relationship is important, to bear in mind when making our requests, but also recognizing…
  • Majesty and Holiness of our Heavenly Father; “Hallowed be your name” and then…
  • “Your kingdom come”

In other words, do our prayers match up with God’s will: His way of doing things – will they help His kingdom to grow? We won’t get a “Yes” answer to our prayers if what we are asking for is centred on our own desires if they are not in line with God’s will.

Do you remember recorded in Mark 14:36 that shortly before He was crucified, Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and prayed,

“Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me, yet not what I will but what you will.”

Jesus was totally human and real. He was able to tell His heavenly Father what He was really thinking and feeling. He didn’t want to have to endure what was coming to Him and yet He also knew that God’s kingdom purpose must prevail and that He must submit to His Father’s will.

So what am I saying?

  • Remember when we ask we are coming to a loving Heavenly Father, who wants a real relationship with us.
  • Our prayers to have a “Yes” answer need to be in line with God’s will.
  • Prayers can/should be simple, straightforward and not ‘waffly’ – we can say what we are thinking and feeling.
  • We remember God is holy and awesome – and…
  • It’s good to be thankful!

Paul writing to the Philippians says (4:6),

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition (or asking) with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And finally…

Paul writing to the Roman Christians (8:26),

“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us, with groans that words cannot express”

So when praying (or asking God for others, and we don’t know what we should ask for) let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us!

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