Thursday, February 25, 2016

Faith in Prayer

"And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;  and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:5-13)

This familiar portion is set in a new light when we consider that it contextually follows after the Lord's Prayer. What made me wonder was when I considered it in light of the Father – and of a Calvinistic / Arminian rubric. There is of a certainty responsibility laid upon the petitioner to ask, even to ask out of season when the need arises, and in expectation. This expectation is not a fatalistic hope – but the reasonable response of a good and loving father.

Often the idea of one’s prayers to the Lord convincing Him to open the store houses of blessing seems foreign to a Calvinist because he thinks so highly of God's ordered and planned world. Who is he to break in and disturb him? And what need is enough to justify the interruption?

But the picture we are presented with is not predetermined. Here we see a friend unwilling to help his friend (in this world is it not often the same?) because of the time of day, yet persuaded to help because of persistence. Often it is presented therefore that we ought to persist in prayer.  Yet we see it is not persistence which persuades our loving Lord. But it is faith. A faith rooted in a relationship. We are told in verses 9 - 10 that God answers prayer.

So if we know Him, and the kind generous Father that He is, ought we not call upon Him in faith, persistently, as needs arise?
Shouldn't we trust him to answer?

Will he give a stone, or a serpent, or a scorpion?
Does God change his eternal plans due to our prayers? One must answer No. Yet this does not mean he is unable to respond to our requests in good time with (sometimes) better gifts than we are asked!

Brethren, we must trust our Lord. He knows our needs. He knows our desires. Just as a father, whose child asks him for a bit of candy - the father may desire to give him something better, like a bowl of ice cream, yet that the child must ask for his bit of candy - and trust whatever the response is, that it will be good.

O Lord, help us to look upon you with the faith of a child, trusting to Your goodness and our relation to You.


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