Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
[With these words Jesus continues to teach about the Law of Moses as the Sermon on the Mount continues. He takes some of the most important topics and explains to his disciples, in specific terms, what it means to be “more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires” (See Day 23)].
Yesterday (Day 57) Jesus told his disciples that if they ask, seek, and knock and that God will turn their visions into reality.
Jesus follows up with a little metaphor that describes the Father’s heart. How cruel it would be to give a hungry child a stone? Or to endanger him with a snake? Isn’t it preposterous that any earthly father could be more generous and loving than our heavenly Father?
In this little paragraph Jesus describes God as a father who loves us and cares for us. He is not a harsh taskmaster who judges us and withholds things from us if we aren’t good enough. All we have to do is ask for what we need and he will provide it. Not in a “name it and claim it” kind of way that orders God around, but we can definitely ask for our daily bread. Or strength to make it through another day. Or courage and wisdom to help build his Kingdom here on earth.
Jesus says we shouldn’t be afraid to think big. If God is on our side what harm can it do to ask? He’s not going to punish us for asking!
After all it’s not like prayer ever backfires on us. I’m reminded of The Monkey’s Paw, a short story by W. W. Jacobs. A couple receives a monkey’s paw talisman that has the power to grant them three wishes. Every time they use it they get what they want but there are horrible consequences. For example, their first wish is for money to pay off their house. The husband is subsequently killed in an accident and the wife receives exactly the amount of compensation they had wished for. The next two wishes are even worse so I won’t elaborate. Again, prayer requests are never like a monkey’s paw. They never turn evil on you.
I ran into this kind of mentality when I was at an Hispanic church with many former Roman Catholics. They equated spirituality with suffering. Many said that they didn’t want to deepen their relationship with God because they were afraid that he would increase their burdens by make overwhelming demands of them. They believed that if they got close to God would make them sick or take away their money and material possessions. Of course, this is ridiculous. Jesus never made anyone sick, nor did he take their things. Because of this false belief they thought the safe choice was to keep God at a distance.
Actually, when I thought about it, I understood what they were talking about. Before I read the Bible I had the impression that if you were a practicing Christian and you didn’t give away all your money and take strangers into your home you were a hypocrite who would end up in hell. This little misunderstanding kept me away from church for about 12 years.
Later I got involved with the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (now Catch the Fire) in Canada. Their mission statement was “To Receive God’s Love and Give it Away.” Within that context they taught the millions who came from all over the world that “More Lord!” was a very sufficient and meaningful prayer. More love, more discernment, more wisdom, more peace on earth, more social justice, all the good stuff. Especially more of God himself!!!
God doesn’t mind being asked. In fact Jesus tells us we SHOULD ask (see Day 57). He says to ask, seek, and knock. He wants us to be hungry for more of him and his Kingdom, so that, like little Oliver Twist, we say, “Please, Sir, may I have some more?” He promises he won’t humiliate or reject us or punish us with a stone just for asking. We shouldn’t be afraid. Like they say, God answers every prayer request – “yes”, “no”, “later”, or”wait”…because he has something even better in mind. Lots of times “wait” is the best of all! His plans are better than ours.
So, my prayer today……..MORE LORD!!!
What does this scripture say to you?