Monday, August 12, 2013

Prayer: The Relationship

One of the lectionary readings this week is Luke 11:1-13.  Read verses 9-13:
"So I say to 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.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?   Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  
How does our prayer life compare to the metaphor of a child speaking to a parent?

First of all, stop for a moment and soak in the marvelous and amazing gift of being able to call God "Father."  It implies relationship, right off the bat.  God invites us into relationship with him, and he considers us to be his children.  Unbelievable, except through grace.

When a child speaks to a parent, he usually does so from a position of trust.  The child (in a healthy relationship) knows that the parent will not provide something that is harmful.  That tells us one or two things about our prayers and our relationship with God.  First, God is trustworthy, and we should have the faith to place ourselves in God's care.  We can trust God not to harm us.  Secondly, a parent doesn't always provide what the child is asking for -- that doesn't mean the prayer isn't answered.  All prayers are answered.  God is always present, always listening, always responding.

Do we miss the last verse?  The Father gives the Holy Spirit to his children.  Always.  Without fail.

It is best, I think, to be in a continuing prayerful relationship with God, but here's another way the parent-child metaphor applies.  We hope that our children always talk with us, always maintain open communication. But what if they don't?  What if they only call when there is a crisis?  Do we turn them away?  No!  We want them to call when there are problems, even if that is the only time they ever call.  It's not the best situation, but the lack of communication the rest of the time doesn't negate our desire to know when they are in trouble?  Does it?

Pray.  All the time, without ceasing.  Be thankful to God for the relationship, knowing that you are heard and that God answers.

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