Thursday, August 15, 2019

Teach us to Pray, Part 4

All of this, and then there is this kicker at the end of the passage that we might miss if we don’t pay attention.  The last verse, verse 13, says, “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!”

Have you seen the commercials for Carvana?  Carvana is a website you can visit where you search for a used car.  You can browse through 17,650 cars until you find the one you want, and then you buy it, and they deliver it to your door.  Or, if you prefer, you can pick it up – and this is the part that always floors me – you pick it up at a car vending machine.  We drove to Alabama last weekend where our younger son is in grad school, and as we drove through Nashville, I saw a carvana vending machine.  It’s a clear tower full of cars – I guess you go visit it, enter a number, and your car pops out.

Sometimes I think we consider prayer to be a carvana experience. We pray, God thinks about it, and if we are lucky, God says yes, and our wish comes true.  Like a bubblegum machine. 

Please don’t be insulted by that comparison – I know that’s not the case with everyone, and it’s not the case with anyone all the time, but I do think it is sometimes how we, in the back of our minds, think about prayer.

But this verse says that God will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” We sometimes say that God always answers prayers, but that sometimes the answer is no.  I think God always answers prayers, and the answer is always yes.  God always provides the Holy Spirit to us.  The answer is always relationship. The answer is always presence. The answer is always love and guidance. I know that God was with Joan as she drove across four states.  I know that God was with her daughter and with the church as we all prayed.  I could see that God was present with Theo as she lived up until the day she died, and even after that.  The answer is always God.

And that is what prayer is about.  It is an invitation to come into the presence of the God who has created you – who created the universe – and to bring God everything.  To offer all of your love, your concerns, your worry, your guilt, yourself.  And God, who loves us beyond our imagination, will always answer “Yes. I am here with you.”

Lord, teach us to pray, because we need you.

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