Monday, February 2, 2009

Prayer 4: getting what we ask for

All last week, Jack had been asking me if he can have some of the soup I bought for Marcie. He asked if he could have it for supper Wednesday night instead of the steaks I was grilling. When I said no, he asked if he could have it Thursday night instead of whatever we were going to have (which happens to be home-made pizza). I told him I would fix it for him for lunch on Thursday.

Marcie loves this soup, but I knew that it might be a bit complex and even spicy for his tastes. I even suggested as much: wouldn’t he prefer a soup he knows and likes? He was confident: please, may I have THAT soup.

So he got it. And he didn’t like it-- it was too spicy. In fact, he didn’t even finish his bowl, even though that was all he was offered for lunch. We tried adding a little milk to tone down the spiciness, but to no avail.

Though he doesn’t know it, Jack has demonstrated why prayer often turns out the way it does. By that I mean, why we often don’t “get what we asked for” in prayer.

When we appeal to our heavenly Father, we believe-- sometimes with the utmost confidence and conviction-- that we KNOW what is best for us, what we need in a certain circumstance, or the way things should go. Our assumption is, naturally, that we, of all creatures, should know what is right and good. And when we
don’t get what we’ve asked for, we are incredulous.

Yet, isn’t it so that God may know something we don’t? In fact, is it inconceivable that God knows something
about us that we don’t? If God knows what we don’t, and has promised to provide for our needs, why do we question when He doesn’t give us what WE ask for?

Because we doubt-- that God is good, that He responds in love, and that what He provides for us is truly what we need. Luke 11:13 tells us: “if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” And we think, “wait-- I don’t need the Holy Spirit! I need
this or that...”

When lunch was over, Jack asked me why I didn’t give him a soup he would like. I reminded him that he had been asking me for that particular soup, and his response was a pleasant surprise:

“Dad, next time will you give me a soup that you know I will eat, even if I ask for a different soup?”

Out of the mouths of babes...

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