October 10, 2019
Jesus told His disciples a parable about a neighbor who was reluctant to help his friend in need. He concluded, “I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.”
He continued, “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. . . . What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?” Lk_11:5-13
In his rebuke against the wickedness of the nation, the Prophet Malachi noted, ‘Then they who fear the LORD spoke with one another, and the LORD listened attentively; And a record book was written before him of those who fear the LORD and trust in his name. And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my own special possession, on the day I take action.‘ Mal_3:13-20b
Continuing in answer to His disciples request, yesterday, to teach them how to pray, Jesus, today, speaks of the need for persistence in their prayer and belief that their prayers will be effective.
Of course, when WE pray, we always throw in that caveat, “If it be God’s will.” But you know what? Most of the time that’s just our excuse to say that we DON’T really, truly honestly – BELIEVE! It’s our scapegoat to give us someone to blame if it doesn’t go – just our way. We say, “It must not have been God’s will: that so-and-so died, that so-and-so got cancer, that I didn’t win the lottery this week.”
So let’s cut out that, “If it be God’s will” piece, and go all the way back to what we’re actually asking for and why. And to do that, we might first ask ourselves: Is this prayer just for our own personal satisfaction, or is it for the good of the community, the good of the needy, the good of the world?
Is it something we really NEED, or do we already have it and are just not making good use of it, like the increase in faith, the disciples asked for in Sunday’s Gospel. If you remember, Jesus never really told them how to increase their faith. But He did tell them that they already had more faith than they even realized, and they were not even using a mustard seed’s worth of it. So, we don’t really need to pray for what we already have. And we really do have QUITE a bit.
And then, we might consider: Are we asking for the snake and the scorpion, instead of the fish and the egg? Jesus didn’t say that the Father would give his child the snake! And yet, look at all the snakes we give to our children and our grandchildren, and even ourselves. The stores are filled with them!
You see, maybe the key to belief in answered prayer is asking the right things from the very start. And equally, if not more important, is recognizing when they’re answered, and then giving thanks!
A wise man once said, “For every one Ask – there should be nine Thanks.” And if we’ve got toes, that should be 19 – Thank you’s.
It was exactly this aspect of prayer that the first Israelites who returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile, missed. Because in their freedom, they totally forgot the God who saved them. And it took an anonymous ‘Messenger,’ who called himself Malachi, to remind them that they were lucky they even had 19 fingers and toes, let alone a place to call Home, only BECAUSE of the God who Loved them, and Blessed them, and Set them apart from the wicked.
You see, God is not our scapegoat for a lost gambling ticket.
And God is not the blame for anyone’s timely or untimely death.
And God is not the answer to why there’s evil in the world.
But He is our comfort, despite it all! He is our fear, that keeps us in line. And He is our Blessing and our Hope and our Salvation.
If we were to pray to God for ONE thing: From the Prophet Malachi’s words today, we should be praying for more Fear and Respect of God’s Holy Name in the world.
For the truly greatest Fear of all Creation is – Eternal Life without God!
And WE can give thanks to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit for freeing us from that calamity, when we truly and persistently BELIEVE!
________________end of post