“So, Have You Prayed About It?” Oct 16, 2022
“ So, Have You Prayed About it?”
I would like to start with another passage from Luke’s gospel. We’ll be backing up a bit and reading from the 11th chapter of Luke from an entirely different time and context, but having said that, I have to wonder is simply making the same point over and over again. So keeping in mind the story of the widow looking for justice, here is Luke’s telling of the Parable of the neighbor knocking at the door at midnight. Luke 11:5-13 – –
5-6 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
9 “Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
Seek and you’ll find;
Knock and the door will open.
10-13 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—You’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit
when you ask him?”
now, it’s interesting to note that this lesson in directness and perseverance was taught to the disciples right after they had asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. The prayer he taught them is, of course, the prayer we know of as the Lord’s Prayer. So, in essence Jesus not only taught his disciples (and us) what to pray, but he also gave us a beginning understanding of the power of prayer that comes from an abiding faith; that comes from a deep need. And that comes from the heart.
The way the story goes, I believe, is that A hermit was meditating by a river when a young man interrupted him. “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. “Because I want to find God.”
The master jumped up, grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, dragged him into the river, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there for a minute, with him kicking and struggling to free himself, the master finally pulled him up out of the river.
The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath.
When he eventually quieted down, the master spoke. “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.” “Air!” answered the man. “Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.”
Can’t help but think that the parable of the widow seeking justice might be the perfect scripture for that crowd who loves to tell us that, “O. I don’t believe in prayer I tried it once, and it didn’t work. My answer to them is usually something like, “Maybe you need to try again, and with a little less attitude next time.”
Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will open. You know, it’s funny: this isn’t a story about saying the perfect words or having the right mojo or hutzpah. (vs 10) “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. Also, a big part of that asking comes from our deep seated belief that our prayer will be answered in some shape or form, and this, for a majority of folks who make a claim to the Christian faith – this is where things can get uncomfortable.
You’ve heard me talk about our good friend Connie who lives in Polson, Montana. Well Connie had a way of cutting through a lot of the fog that we carry with us on this journey of faith.
For example: whenever you approached her with a particular problem or issue that might be going on, Connie would never offer advice right away. Instead, she would wait until you’ve explained the whole conundrum in great detail and just when you thought she might have the perfect solution to your problem, she would ask, ”So, have you prayed about it?” Now, this is a tough one! My first instinct was always to say something like, “Well, not exactly,” knowing all along that if I had prayed on it – and not just once or twice – but repeatedly, then I probably wouldn’t be standing here with this big dumb confused look on my face,
Sooner or later however, I would confess and say: “No. I haven’t.” it’s hard to lie about your prayer life to a pastor, but she didn’t judge. Instead, I was always inspired to not make this mistake again. (vs 10) “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.”
So yes, our theme for today must be persistence in prayer; what does this really mean to us as individuals? Is this just another great parable of Christ that gets swept under the rug? I’ll admit that I’ve always remembered this parable particularly for the image of a father serving a live snake on a dinner plate to his son who asked for some lightly fried fish fillets. But the message is clear: we were created by a loving God and because he is a loving God –always has been/ always will be – then why wouldn’t we approach his grace every chance we get?
“Ask and you shall receive. Seek and ye shall find.” It all sounds a bit unrealistic, don’t you think? But here’s the thing: until we get serious about the business of asking and the real work of seeking to find our way in the kingdom of God, we’re never going to know for sure. Let’s just pray that we won’t need to be near-drowned in the river to understand that the power of the Spirit rests upon a heart that constantly seeks his presence; a heart that craves the presence of our God just like the air we breathe; the power of the Spirit rests upon a heart that seeks to know Christ; and yes, the Spirit rests upon the heart that prays without ceasing.
Amen & shalom